From the opening moments of the film, I was drawn in. So many of the names we call "legends" in the sport of mountain biking- cycling in general- were part of the movie. Names like Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze, Tom Ritchey, Otis Guy, Steve Potts, Jacquie Phelan, Charlie Cunningham, Mike Sinyard... it's a who's-who for sure. I'm such a nerd for this kind of thing, but I was drawn in immediately by all the old home movie images and photographs (many by Wende Cragg). Hearing the commentary from these guys and gals on the genesis of what would eventually become what is now called a "mountain bike" is amazing. I have met several of these people, but many I have not and it was cool to hear all of them retell this moment in cycling history.
The fact that the early bikes, "klunkerz", were born from a combination of athleticism, fun, 60's-70's hippie rebellion and a bunch of weed is not too much of a surprise. Hearing the stories- told by the people who lived them- is just surreal in some ways. The constant hunting and rummaging around for parts sturdy enough to handle the abuse they were not designed for and the epic days of riding broken, bent or demolished bikes up and down the hills around Tamalpais, Marin and Lancaster becomes an intoxicating blend. The competitiveness that developed between icons like Joe Breeze and Gary Fisher was born from a friendly rivalry to simply do it a little better or a little faster.
I've always been a huge fan of Tom Ritchey and his bikes and components, but this movie certainly added to that. Hearing guys like Joe Breeze, Gary Fisher, Mike Sinyard and others rave about his genius and craftmanship was very touching. The sweet nostalgia that exists in those comments is not lost on me now, as we battle with the most unhealthy and uber-competitive US cycling industry that I have ever experienced in the past 27 years I've been in it. I watched the movie and loved it for what it is; an epic retelling of the formation of what would become the mountain bike and the billion dollar industry that grew around it. But, seeing the respect and admiration that existed and still exists to some degree between these men and women just left me sad towards the end because I am jealous of it. Don't get me wrong, I have many friends in the bike industry and even many at other bike companies, but the "industry" as a whole has become much less friendly and cooperative in too many ways. It's an ugly reminder that some people change with money and/ or power sometimes.
But... it's a damned great movie. I loved it. Sure, I'm a skinny tired guy (just like Gary Fisher and Tom Ritchey started out), but I love all bikes (or nearly all) and the story of Klunkerz is so worth watching. So if you want to take a great trip down memory lane or simply learn the origins of a massive part of the cycling industry, Klunkerz is more than worth it.
Thanks again to Billy Savage for getting in touch with me and offering me a copy of the movie to view- it's going into the library permanently now.
Now, for all the San Diego area folks a bit of Klunkerz news;
From Billy Savage-
So... now you know a bit more about Klunkerz and the screening of the movie in Encinitas next week. If you can make it, I highly recommend that you go!
I just wanted to let you know that Gary Fisher and his old business partner Charlie Kelly will be coming to town for a free screening of my cycling film, KLUNKERZ, at the end of the month. In 1979 these two cyclists started a little company, cleverly called MountainBikes, that was the first
MTBcompany in the world. They are both really fun guys and they will be available for questions after the film. The screening is at on Friday, 1/30 at the La Paloma Theater in Encinitas. It is part of the Competitor Magazine Film Festival.
Gary and I will be doing The Morning Show on NBC San Diego next Monday 1/26 at to promote the screening. We'll also be doing The Competitor Radio Show next Sunday night at . If you can let folks know, I'd sure appreciate it.
Thanks again Billy; it's a great movie and I am sincerely happy that you were gracious enough to send me a copy.