Down The Trail: Highlights Of The Last 30 Years
Highlights Of The Last 30 Years
Our May 1991 issue had lots of bikes in the stories and ads, but the overwhelming majority were rigid. A few bikes had Rock Shox forks. There was also an ad for an Offroad Pro-Flex bike that offered rear suspension, but no front suspension other than a Girvin Flexstem.
We did a memorable interview with Joe Breeze, one of the pioneers of mountain biking. Joe told us about the birth of the sport. Joe said, “I remember riding on Mt. Tam with Otis [Guy] and contemplating this fat-tire thing. We were born skinny-tire fanatics, and all along the fat-tired bikes were just used as an off-season training device. We stopped on the trail for a moment and thought about what we were doing. We really liked this fat-tire thing, liked getting covered with mud, but we really didn’t think many others would like it. Fearing the worst, Otis joked that it was something we should keep to ourselves.” Not too much later, in 1976, the first mountain bike races were held on Mt. Tam, and the sport exploded in popularity worldwide.
20 YEARS AGO
Our May 2001 issue featured Scott Hart on the cover riding a Cheeta downhill bike. The photo was shot by Chris Firth.
One of the best features in the issue was an article titled “Fighting the War for Trail Access,” which told how the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sent out a plan the previous summer that would limit the off-road use of off-highway vehicles. “Mountain bikes weren’t included in the plan in the summer, but when the plan was released in December, they were listed,” IMBA’s Dan Vardamis told us. “We didn’t want to be categorized that way because of the limits on motorized vehicles.”
For that reason, IMBA organized a letter-writing campaign to protest the change, and over 16,000 protest letters swamped the BLM, with over 10,000 coming from mountain bikers. As a result of the protest, the BLM changed its plan, and mountain bikers were not banned from tens of millions of acres of land, as they would have been otherwise. “It shows that mountain bikers can stand as a political force,” Vardamis said. “It was the biggest victory in IMBA history.”
Elsewhere in the issue, we did an article about a group of blind mountain bikers in Southern California. Founder Andy Griffin, who was sighted, led the rides, while the blind riders followed him, guided by the sound of zip-ties clicking in the spokes. The group soon became famous all over the world. Three of the original members now travel the world teaching their echolocation skills to others through Daniel Kish’s group, World Access for the Blind. The instructors train the blind to “see” their environment by snapping their tongues and learning the way the sounds bounce off nearby objects, the same way bats and dolphins do.
Our May 2011 cover featured Taylor Lideen and Jon Petit on a trail near Phoenix, Arizona.
Elsewhere in the issue, we offered a guide to North America’s best bike parks. Among those mentioned were Highland Mountain Bike Park in New Hampshire; Whiteface Bike Park and Plattekill Mountain in New York; Mount Washington, Panorama, Kicking Horse and Whistler in British Columbia; Trestle, Sol Vista, and Mount Crested Butte bike parks in Colorado; Snowshoe Bike Park in West Virginia; Bootleg Canyon, Nevada; and Tamarack Bike Park in Idaho.
We also tested one of the most expensive bikes on the market that year, the Specialized Epic 29er, priced at $9500. We loved that bike. We weren’t the only ones. That year Jaroslav Kulhavy would ride his Epic 29er to five World Cup race wins and the series title, launching a mass switch to 29ers on the World Cup circuit. In 2012 Jaroslav would win the Olympics, too.