MOUNTAIN BIKE HALL OF FAME: 2019 INDUCTEE-ELECTS

Here are the riders/industry people who have been elected for induction this year

Four new people have been elected to join the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in September. Below are the biographies of the “inductee-elects” as reported on the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame website. The four inductee-elects won’t officially become members of the Hall of Fame until the induction ceremony is held in September. Tickets for the event, to be held on the weekend of Sept.13-14, are available on the Marin Museum of Bicycling/Mountain Bike Hall of Fame website. Here are the inductee-elects for 2019.
TIM NEENAN
By now we all know that Mike Sinyard introduced the first widely accepted mass produced mountain bike, the ‘Stumpjumper’. But the man who actually conceived the bike, built the first prototype and convinced Sinyard to put it into production, was someone else entirely, a nearby framebuilder from Santa Cruz.
     Tim Neenan’s Lighthouse frames were well known on the central coast of California when Mike Sinyard approached Tim in 1980 about the possibility of designing a small line of road bikes for Specialized, frames that would offer the quality, details and range of sizes then offered only by small builders. This conversation gave birth to the Allez, Sequoia and Expedition, the foundation of Specialized’s bicycle line.
     Prior to coming to Specialized Tim had been experimenting with the European approach to riding in the dirt, building 700c British style ‘Rough Stuff’ bikes. Upon hearing about the klunker movement in the North Bay, he decided to build one of his Rough Stuff frames around the 26” wheel format using Mitusuboshi Cruiser Mits tires. The frame was fillet brazed using oversized tubes in 1.0 x .7mm gauge with a double plate fork crown and extra long ’S’ bent chainstays out of 3/4” plain gauge chrome moly.
     After kicking off the production of the initial road bikes in Japan, Tim returned to California to test his new bike out in the Santa Cruz mountains and loved what 26” wheels brought to the equation. He became so excited that he quickly approached Sinyard about putting this idea into production. What happened next is best told by Tim: “After a pleasant weekend riding I realized that we could build bikes like this in Japan because of their extensive mastery of TIG Welding BMX frames out of light tubes. This also allowed oversized tubes and non”standard” geometry that lugs required. So I pitched the concept to Mike that Monday morning. He liked it so I drew up the plans for the Stumpjumper and we headed back to Japan to set up Stumpjumper production.”
     “Setting up Stumpjumper production” was no small task as virtually everything was new. Factories were used to working closely with Japanese component & tubing makers to ensure fit, function, standards, tight tolerances and easy assembly in production. None of this applied to the Stumpjumper. Oversize tubing, slack geometry & extra wide rear spacing required new tooling. Clearance issues for tires, chainrings and tubing shapes all had to be worked out. There was no crown wide enough to fit the front tire so a Japanese work cycle crown was adapted for the first production run while a new cast crown was designed.
     Component fit proved an issue too, as factories did not have the luxury of hand-modifying each part the way a custom builder would do. In recounting this process Neenan said: “I remember we had an interference problem with the Tomaselli brake levers and the Suntour thumb shifters. I sketched a design for an internally cinched thumb shifter clamp in the Suntour President’s office which was put into production to eliminate the clearance issue.”
     The final selection of components were not the usual Japanese suppliers factories were used to and parts were an unlikely mix from Suntour, TA, Mafac, Tomaselli, DT and a host of suppliers that had no relationships supplying Japanese factories or working to the tighter tolerances the Japanese demanded. Add in the fact that the first order was some 750 bikes resulting in little, if any, profit reward for the factories making all these changes. Every step presented new challenges and new objections. But Neenan persevered and in doing so created the template all other production makers would follow in the early days, a template that proved to be successful enough to launch an entirely new category and for the first time bring the price of a mountain bike in reach of everyone.
     It would be easy to imagine a different scenario, one where a factory interpreted these bikes their own way and introduced heavy, compromised designs that failed to deliver the performance and durability real off-road riding demands. Without an experienced framebuilder & rider guiding this first effort the entire launch of mountain bikes might have taken a very different track, one where the concept failed to get retail traction and took much longer to catch on. But Tim’s work was an immediate hit with the first two shipments sold out before they landed and Specialized than playing catch up through much of the 1980’s.
 (Written by Bryant Bainbridge and Tim Neenan)
MYLES ROCKWELL
One of mountain bike racing’s superstars, Myles Rockwell’s speed, personality and iconic riding style made him a fan favorite around the world. His results and “gentle giant” image made him the perfect package for sponsorships and TV appearances. Myles mind was also naturally inclined to understand cycling technology and equipment, and he made many unique contributions to research and development during his downhill racing career.
The “God of Gravity” became the World Champion in 2000. Myles continues to give back to the sport by mentoring young riders through his nonprofit, Rockwell Ridewell.
     Myles was picked up by the iconic Yeti team in 1993 along with Missy “The Missile” Giove and Jimmy “The Bomber” Deaton. Soon after this breakthrough, Myles shot video for NBC Wide World of Sports with Greg Herbold and Missy Giove. Myles was also given the opportunity to give performance feedback to the legendary Doug Bradbury, founder of the very first suspension fork company, Manitou. While racing for Yeti, Myles won the biggest paying MTB event around, The Reebok Eliminator. With a one-hour time slot on ESPN, the show was seen by millions. Myles won a bronze medal at the 1993 World Championships in Metabief, France, proving to the world he was incredible on any type of track.
     Myles became a part of a history making moment when Volvo Cannondale signed him to their factory racing team for the 1994 season. This marked the first time a major corporation had committed a sizable budget to the sport, and Volvo went all out in an effort to promote mountain biking as a part of a desired lifestyle. The Volvo Cannondale Team also included Missy Giove and cross-country powerhouses Tinker Juarez and Alison Sydor.
Along with Volvo, Reebok entered as a major player, sponsoring Myles and Missy. Eager to capitalize on working with such dynamic personalities, Reebok launched a new shoe line called “The Cliff Hanger”. They used Myles and Missy in a TV commercial that ran for months as the momentum of mountain biking was building.
In 1995 Myles won the Kamikaze Downhill and the Reebok Eliminator in the same weekend, collecting the biggest cash purse in history. During the Volvo Cannondale era, Myles was featured in multiple ads for all of his sponsors. IRC Tires dubbed him “The Fastest Man on Earth.”
     During the vast flurry of marketing, Myles was a big part of the development of many of Cannondale’s design breakthroughs. The Headshock was largely used and tested by Myles during this time. The development of the Moto Bike and the early days of disc brakes by Sachs, and the original SRAM product, the Grip Shift, were critiqued and developed with Myles input. The IRC Moto Tire was developed by Myles and Missy. In 1997 Myles and Cannondale developed a revolutionary triple chain, 0 effect pivot downhill racing machine. The bike was named The Fulcrum. Myles Fulcrum from the 1998 season is on display in the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.
     In 1996 Myles broke both his kneecaps and was sidelined for the rest of the season. Things were destined to get even tougher for Myles. Not long after recovering from the broken kneecaps, he broke both legs in a motorcycle accident. He spent 6 weeks in a wheel chair and was told by his doctor he would never race again. Myles gathered all of his courage to mount a comeback. With the sport evolving quickly, Myles was forced to adapt. New technology, new tracks and new pressure saw the rising star become a veteran nearly overnight. He remounted his steed and carried on.
     Myles was dropped from the Cannondale squad in 1999, and picked up by the world’s largest bike manufacturer, Giant Bicycles. Myles was instantly invited to be featured on the Fox television show “On The Edge”, a look at the behind the scenes of mountain bike racing. Soon after, Myles was back to his winning ways, beating Steve Peat at the X Games. With momentum building, Myles won the 2000 NORBA opener in Big Bear CA, and with dramatic flair became the 2000 Downhill World Champion in Sierra Nevada Spain. Overcoming incredible odds, Myles defeated the world’s most legendary downhiller Nicholas Voillouz. He is still the last American man to hold the World Champion DH title.
     Tragedy stuck for Myles when his son TC committed suicide in the fall of 2016. He was 13 years old. Determined to help youth with self-confidence and skill development, Myles launched his nonprofit Rockwell Ridewell which provides coaching, mentorship and a positive environment for kids who could otherwise not afford Myles professional coaching services. Myles volunteers his time to local schools and bike clubs, and loves to see kids loving life! Myles’ love and passion for the sport was his secret sauce. His captivating persona and winning ways were only a part of the package. Myles is most remembered for the love he shared with his competitors, fans and the crew who worked with him. Everyone was a part of the win. Everyone was also a part of his defeats. Myles spirit was one to root for! Cheers, Myles! The history of mountain biking wouldn’t be the same without your contributions and contagious smile!
Myles Rockwell Career Highlights:
• 8 NORBA National DH wins
• 11 World Cup podiums
• Reebok Eliminator 1st place 1993
• Bronze Medal World Championships Metabief France 1993
• Reebok Eliminator 1st place 1995
• Kamikaze 1st place 1995
• God of Gravity 1998
• World Cup Win Kaprun Austria 1995
• 3rd World Cup Overall 1995
• X Games Gold Medalist 2000
• Downhill World Champion Sierra Nevada Spain 2000
• Red Bull Roadrage 1st 2006
REBECCA RUSCH
    Rebecca Rusch, recognized by Outside Magazine among the Top 40 Women Who’ve Made the Biggest Impact, and by Men’s Journal with the 25 Most Adventurous Women in the Past 25 Years, she’s one of the boldest, kindest, most determined champions you’ll ever encounter, a maverick whose influence as MTB royalty has ignited loyalty for the sport among legions. Her grit, determination, and perseverance earned her the “Queen of Pain” handle, known for crushing monster endurance events and mountain bike races like the iconic Leadville 100 (not just once–legit for anyone, male or female–but four years running, an achievement of legendary status).
Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about her mountain biking métier is that she debuted at age 38, transitioning out of a successful career in multi-sport adventure racing, and in short order racked up multiple championships, breaking course records and setting PRs with almost every outing. A few stats from the highlight reel: 2007, 2008, 2009 24-Hour Solo Mountain Bike World Champion; 4x Leadville 100 winner; multiple-time national champion in 24-hour racing, marathon and single speed disciplines. Multi-endurance record holder (2013 Kokopelli Trail, Moab-Fruita: female course record, 142 miles, 13 hrs 32 mins; 2014 Trans Andes Challenge, Chile: 1st place solo open women; 2019 Iditarod 350 Trail Invitational: 1st female finisher, 10th overall). These are just some of the hard-earned experiences defining Rebecca Rusch’s extraordinary trajectory as an athlete, adventurer, bellwether, best-selling author, entrepreneur, Emmy winner and activist. She is an honorary board member of both IMBA and the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), having helped establish the Idaho chapter of that league, as well as an ambassador for World Bicycle Relief.
Adventure Sports Network wrote in 2018, “Rusch believes so deeply in the power and freedom of bicycles, and lives that truth so vibrantly and infectiously, that she inspires without trying. From the beginning, Rusch has sought to expand opportunities for women to become involved in outdoor spaces by offering herself as an example.”* As part of her #JoinTheRusch movement, Rebecca translated her experience so that others could feel the encouragement, empowerment, and tribal satisfaction of using the bike to explore their potential.
     An early innovation in pursuit of inclusiveness, her women’s-specific bike clinics and organized rides under the SRAM Gold Rusch Tours banner were wildly successful, helping launch similar women’s programs around the world, and elevating numerous female athletes in the industry. From the enthusiastically received Ladies Lounge at the Sea Otter Classic, where Rebecca brought in other pros, coaches and luminaries to share their knowledge and stoke, to the Wheel Girls bike camps for teens she created, Rebecca has always widened the tent, invited people in and shared tools to help others power their own adventures. In person and via social platforms, her reputation and reach motivate millions of women and girls, boys and men to mount up, gaining skills and confidence for life while having a blast and learning how far they can push their limits. Promoting both her sport and her home state, she has unveiled a slate of Rusch Academy cycling camps comprehensively designed to level-up both physical and mental performance and confidence in the saddle with challenging riding and plenty of expert guidance on everything from nutrition to technical tips.  Abroad, she leads intrepid souls on 2-week travel adventures known as MTB Lao, an annual mountain bike excursion on the Ho Chi Minh Trail–a trip of uncommon personal, cultural and historical significance. She recently launched the nonprofit Be GoodTM Foundation (to date, Rusch events have raised over $500,000 for selected bike-related charities), prioritizing the removal of UXO throughout Laos, protecting public lands for recreation, and using the bike to drive impactful change at local, national and global levels.
Rebecca’s never more fired up than when navigating her latest insanely ambitious project, but it’s always about more than the ride itself: a higher calling, a cause to serve, an idea to promote. A few examples: mountain biking up and down Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise the equivalent of Kili’s altitude in dollars to benefit World Bicycle Relief; cycling the 1200-mi. Ho Chi Minh Trail as the subject of Red Bull Media House’s feature film Blood Road, then returning with a mission to use her resources to address the life-threatening issues of unexploded ordnance, or UXO, which she was shocked to discover littering the countryside throughout her record-setting ride; and, most recently, combining pack-rafting and rock climbing with a mountain bike-packing tour of Utah’s Bears Ears & Grand Escalante Staircase National Monuments to raise awareness around preservation of public lands.
Expanding mental, physical and geographic boundaries have formed the basis of her approach to health, wellness and earning a livelihood. The satisfaction of dreaming, then achieving, the unthinkable – repeatedly throughout her career – has motivated her to share what she’s learned, and inspire others to pursue their own paths, on dirt and in life. She’s an admired, accessible role model because she insists that if she can do it, others can too, and she’s delighted to take them on a ride and show them how. “Decades as a professional athlete have reinforced the almost magical power of living outside your comfort zone,” Rebecca says. “Whether it’s for a public speaking event, a 24-hour push on the bike or a 10-day expedition in unforgiving terrain, the fulfillment that comes from facing fears and reaching beyond is thrilling and rewarding, at any level. I want to share the satisfaction that comes from trying, failing, succeeding, learning, growing and giving back.”
Throughout her career, Rebecca has continuously raised the bar and shows no signs of letting up. Combining her ongoing athletic pursuits with her entrepreneurial interests as CEO of Rusch Ventures, she channels decades of outrageously successful, intensely demanding competition and exploration into an impactful business network of outdoor adventure lifestyle events, products, experiences, and content designed to elevate possibilities for people and their bikes. Her YouTube channel is loaded with a variety of content from educational to inspirational, encouraging riders to up their game with problem-solving, packing, planning, navigating, bike selection, maintenance tips and more.  She was invited to author a regular column, “Rusch Job,” for the venerable Dirt Rag Mag in 2014, and for several years continued to spread her brand of humility, inclusion, and empowerment (plus light doses of good old-fashioned smack talk), in both personal and universal terms. The popular column’s appeal lay in her trademark style, discussing the whys and wherefores of biking and competition with both thoughtful analysis and irreverent reflection, treating the subject matter with gravitas but never taking herself too seriously. The discipline of journalistic deadlines presented a whole new type of challenge, but as usual, she dug deep and gave it her all, and in that same year published what she considered at the time her toughest project to date: the best-selling Rusch to Glory: Adventure, Risk & Triumph on the Path Less Traveled.
Recognized as one of the greatest endurance athletes of our time, with plenty of gas in the tank at age 50, Rebecca continues to build upon the formidable foundation she has doggedly established over the past 25+ years. She remains committed to using the bike as she always has: not only as a means to express her own desires for discovery, connection, risk, reward, and satisfaction, but also as a vehicle for positive change: encouraging others to find fun, adventure, fulfillment, community and purpose in pursuit of their own goals and a better future.
(*October 4, 2018, Kim Stravers, www.adventuresportsnetwork.com)
Derek Westerlund
If there were one single person tied to every monumental moment in the sport of freeride mountain biking it would be Derek Westerlund. Part unsung hero, part mastermind and visionary, Westerlund has spent 25 years of years of his life pioneering the entertainment space in mountain biking and action sports.
     Sometimes in the shadows but always in the credits, Westerlund’s original British Columbia crew were carving a path for freeriding before it was even a word. His name is synonymous with the moment freeriding began, the moment the mountain bike film craze began and the first time the bike industry coined an event a “Freeride Contest.” His early efforts in the industry started in mid 90’s as a trail guide and British Columbia magazine publisher and then over a few short years he morphed into a pro rider, adventure writer and film producer.  By the early 2000’s he had helped pioneer and capture the Red Bull Rampage and what the world would soon know as Crankworx. In 2013 Bike Magazine recognized Westerlund as one of the Top 12 biggest influencers of the last 20 years.
     Through a variety of film, television and web-based productions, Westerlund’s company, Freeride Entertainment, has put more eyeballs on the sport of mountain biking entertainment than anyone else in the space. Their catalog surpasses 2.5 billion impressions worldwide and along with Red Bull they were the first team to put mountain biking on NBC and national television in the US.
     With the release of New World Disorder in 2000 the race driven sport of mountain biking got a massive shot in the arm and soon the global freeride buzz truly caught on. With a little rock and roll and a middle finger to the establishment, freeriding became all the rage and somewhat controversial. Controversial or not, mountain biking finally had an identity within the multibillion-dollar industry of action sports.
     With all his success Westerlund felt he had taken mountain biking down a bit of the wrong path and somewhere along the way freeriding had turned strictly into dirt jumping and slopestyle and lost its adventurous roots. In 2010 Westerlund abruptly stopped the New World Disorder series to contemplate what was next for the sport and his production company. After a few years away from the pressures of upping the ante, Freeride Entertainment came back and continued to pioneer the adventure space with “Where the Trail Ends” which today is the most viewed mountain bike film of all time.  The film was focused around a small group of riders searching the world for the ultimate terrain. This brought freeriding and Westerlund back to its roots of “adventure on a bicycle.”
     In 2018 Westerlund continues to push the boundaries in film and television with new films in mountain biking, tackling the hard topics of global warming and post-concussion syndrome. 2019 will see him embark on “Nothing’s for Free, The 30 Year History of Freeride Mountain Biking.”
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