The Hippie Daredevils Who Were Just Crazy Enough to Invent Mountain Biking

The sport we know as mountain biking had an far-flung genesis, evolving from trick riding in Paris, countryside races in England, and mechanical developments in the U.S. in the 1950s. But it really took off in the 1970s due to the Repack races in Marin County, California, from 1976 to 1979. Collectors Weekly talked to several of the folks involved of those races, Gary Fisher, Alan Bonds, Joe Breeze, Charlie Kelly, and Wende Cragg, about the early days of mountain biking.

For Cragg, who still holds the record for a female rider (5:29, for an average speed of about 22 miles per hour) but wasn’t into the competitive aspects of mountain biking in the first place, the vibe around the racing was sometimes a bit much. “There was a lot of testosterone at the top,” she allows. “The guys were dead serious about wanting to get the title. It would just be so tense.”

It was also dangerous. “I remember the couple times I raced, I had trouble keeping my feet on the pedals. We didn’t have straps back then. So it was like your feet would be slipping off the pedals as you were trying to stay composed and think about what you were doing. The last time I crashed, I went into this cavernous kind of rut that I had trouble getting out of because it was pretty freaking deep. That was the day I decided I’m not doing this again. I was lucky to walk away without any broken bones. Yeah, there were some terrifying moments on that race course.”

Read an extensive article about the early days of mountain biking, at Collectors Weekly.

(Image credit: Charlie Kelly’s Mountain Bike Hubsite)

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