I got my hands on a 1980s issue of Bicycling Magazine (thanks Old Man Graka). The date on it is April 1980 and for the most part, it includes articles about road-riding and rad advertisements, like this one.
But the magazine also happens to feature a story about (what at the times was) a relatively new sport called mountain biking. And for the riders in the story, that’s literally what they planned to do – take their bike and go to the mountain.
It’s not pretty. Roads are rocky, suspension is nil, and the whole thing feels like one grand experiment. For all intents and purposes, their main goal is to take whatever 2-wheeled steed they have handy (or can Frankenstein together) and find out if they can get it up and over Pearl Pass – a 12,700 ft. summit between Crested Butte and Aspen, Colorado. At the time, this meant 40 miles of rough road and river crossings, where the only gear talk you’d hear might be about one-speeds, balloon tires, and bailing wire. From the looks of it, helmets were optional, jeans were encouraged.
I share this all for three reasons. One: to pay homage to our forefathers (and mothers). Would we even know what berms and flow and disc brakes were if it were not for their sacrifice? (Not to mention Strava and spandex, but I digress). Two: because next time I think the hill I’m riding up is hard, I will imagine I’m riding it in jeans on a single speed from the 1970s and I will stop being such a baby. And three: because it friggin’ warms my heart and makes me smile to see this motley crew just out for a good old fashioned, fun-filled adventure. The article calls the riders “clunker aficionados,” but I call them, goddamn visionaries.