RIDING WITH A RACING GREAT…V V A

RIDING WITH A RACING GREAT…V V A

By Mike Cushionbury


About a week ago I pulled the double-wide into the MBA Castle, took a nap listening to Loudness and then went on a magical ride. Victor Vincente of America stopped by the offices in search of fun singletrack. Richard C, Pat (our photo guru), Basher from MXA, and I gathered up and headed out. I rode with Victor in his yellow beater van with no passenger seat to the ‘secret? trailhead. Even though Victor said, ?I spend very little on food these days, finding most of my meals in dumpsters or behind ,? he said he is happy with the direction his life took. With that, he showed me the contents of the box he puts where the passenger seat once was. It contained such freebies as expired juice, chips, bread and a lot of onions.
Victor currently lives in a small cabin in Clear Lake, California, works occasionally and spends the rest of his time traveling around in search of a mountain bike ride and visiting friends. And speaking of ?a ride,? Victor to this day rides a rusted-out VVA 26?, a frame he built around 1986. He calls it the 26? because his previous frames were 20 x 20’s?funky off-road bikes that used 20? wheels. His VVA Topanga 26? was a throwback to years gone by. The dude uses Shimano 737 pedals, above-bar thumb shifters, seven-speed rear cluster and a semi-slick rear tire. Of course he didn?t get a pre-fabbed semi-slick; he rode it bald on the dirt until it became a semi-slick. Besides the early clipless pedals, the only other ?modern? convenience was the Rock Shox Mag 20 air/oil fork (note that this fork existed before Rock Shox became hip and made its name one word).
Victor, who was born Michael Hiltner, was a member of two U.S. Olympic road teams in the 1960s. He also held the double transcontinental record for five-and-a-half years after going from Santa Monica, California, to Atlantic City, New Jersey, and back to Santa Monica in 36 days and eight hours, finishing on October 7, 1974. It was on that ride that Michael created the name Victor Vincente of America, which is now his legal name.
For a 59-year-old guy, Victor rides very well and is the ultimate freerider. He wears a stained t-shirt, regular old shorts, no helmet and a hip bag. He hoots like an animal at the fun sections and speaks quietly the rest of the time. To see two of the sports? original riders and cutting-edge, old-guy framemakers together in the dirt (I?m speaking of Victor and some guy who founded Mantis) was a rare treat. It could have been any SoCal dirt road in 1980 or one of the original Reseda to the Sea races around 1985. The secret trail was perfect, everyone rode great, and it is something I will never forget. In typical Victor fashion that carried over from his race promotion days, Victor assembled us all together, post ride, and handed out a few VVA goodies to mark the day. We were each treated to small gems that Victor found on a ride near Clear Lake and a few ultra-rare head tube stickers from his frame building days that began in 1979.
When we asked Victor if he found any road kill today (which he makes into jerky) he calmly said, ?Day’s not over yet.?

 

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