Monday, February 2, 2009

Rough Riders News, February 2, 2009

Hello, fellow Rough Riders!

We have a bunch of exciting news to report, so this is more of a newsletter than a single feature story.

We are pleased to announce that we are planning a weekend-long annual Rough Riders Rally based in and around Mill Valley, CA in May of next year (2010). There will be a Friday afternoon ride, followed by no-host dinner at a designated restaurant. Saturday will be the big day: 4-5 hour ride in spectacular terrain, with each rider and their bike being photographed with a scenic backdrop. Later that afternoon the bikes will be assembled for a bike show. (To enter a bike in the show, it must have been ridden on the full route, including the photograph. - No "for looking only; not for riding" bikes may be shown.) There will be some notable Rough Riding personalities who will speak, awards will be given for various categories, and dinner will be included. It will be a fantastic evening. Sunday morning we'll ride Railroad Grade to the summit of Mt. Tam, then return to Mill Valley for a social hour or two at The Depot, before we depart town.

Friday, January 30, 2009 we attended the Competitor Magazine Film Festival in Encinitas, CA. It was an all-day sensory treat and loads of fun.

One film that really stood out is "Klunkerz," which documents the origins of the mountain bike and the sport of mountain biking. The story of a how a bunch of colorful characters reinvented the sport of cycling is truly riveting and extremely entertaining. The filmmaker, Billie Savage, completely immersed himself in this project and went to great lengths to secure original photos and film from the 70s and to track down and interview everyone who was part of the scene. There are also some wonderful reenactments, plus a fun use of comic strips, cartoons, and other interesting visual effects which help to bring the whole story to life. Trust me, there are multiple nuances to "the invention story" which will come as surprise and revelation to even the most veteran cyclists and historians of the sport.

What stands out most, though, are the people themselves, some of whom became famous and household names, and others - equally important - who had otherwise been resigned to the dustbin of history. Until now.

What's so impressive and engaging about every one of these people is that they are just as colorful, just as animated, and just as excited now as they were 35 years ago. Their very spirit is refreshing and contagious. Kudos to Savage for the untold time and effort he put into this film. Thank you to all the people - from Tom Ritchey to Joe Breeze, from Charlie Kelly to Gary Fisher, from Alan Bonds to Otis Guy, from Wende Cragg to Charlie Cunningham, from the Barrow Dirt Club to Velo Club Tamalpais, and many, many more - for what they created for all of us in the 70s and for how they opened up their hearts and souls for this film!

Even if you - horrors! - don't even cycle off-road, you will enjoy this film. Please do yourself a favor and order it now! Info here. | Buy it on Amazon.

In association with the film festival, we got to meet and even ride with some cycling legends. Here are some photos:

Above: Chris with Gary Fisher, co-creator of the mountain bike
Above: with Charlie Kelley, co-creator of the sport of mountain biking. Charlie was partners with Gary Fisher in the the first "Mountain Bikes" company (with the frames made by Tom Ritchey). Charlie was also first mountain bike race promoter (creator of the infamous Repack Downhill). He was also the first mountain bike magazine publisher (Fat Tyre Flyer). Charlie and I first met at the Iditabike in Alaska in 1988. Charlie Kelly's website.

Above: The Thrill of a Lifetime: Meeting Dennis Christopher, AKA Dave Stoller

Location: Competitor Magazine Film Festival, which screened "Breaking Away" as the final feature, on the 30th anniversary of the film's original release in 1979!

Note: I started cycling in 1982 and watched this film on videotape - while eating a whole box of Macaroni and Cheese (and often a pizza, too) - the night before every century, double century, and bike race I entered for several years. To meet "Dave Stoller" after all these years was truly magical. He was extremely personable, signed a photo from the film for me, and seemed genuinely pleased when I told him how much the film affected me and how often I watched it "back in the day" - as well as how much I still appreciate the film on other levels now that I am a bit older. He's a class act and, yes, he says he still has the Masi!

Dennis Christopher on

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