Friday, September 4, 2009

Rough Riding with Rivendell's Grant Petersen

Above: Chris Kostman, left, with Grant Petersen

On August 10, 2009, after spending several days in Marin County to prepare for the July 23-25, 2010 Rough Riders Rally, I joined the legendary Grant Petersen of Rivendell Bicycles for a ride on and around Mt. Diablo in Walnut Creek, CA. I rode one of Rivendell's newest models, the Bombadil. Grant rode one, too, though his was a prototype. Of course, we went "Rivendell style" with "street clothes" and Keen sandal shoes: no bike clothes, no bike shoes, not even attached to the pedals. It all worked perfectly and comfortably! Really, it was just a wonderful ride in a spectacular setting. I'd argue that part of Rivendell's success can be attributed to their location next to this fantastic mountain and its hundreds of miles of trails, fire roads, and even paved roads.

I've known Grant since I interviewed him for an article for California Bicyclist in 1992 and have respected and admired him ever since. It was an honor and a pleasure that Grant - as head of marketing, bike design, etc at Bridgestone Cycle USA - sponsored me in 1992-1994. There were just four of us on Team Bridgestone. When Grant started Rivendell Bicycles in 1994, the least I could do was to sign on as one of his first members and customers. It's been fun and enlightening to keep track of Grant and his cohorts' efforts there in Walnut Creek for the past 15 years. Everything they do comes from the heart, and from their experience out there in the real world of multi-surface cycling.
In our Flickr gallery are some photos of various bikes at Rivendell, followed by shots from our ride together on and around Mt. Diablo (this page just has a few of the highlights). Grant insisted on shooting several shots of me at one of his favorite photogenic spots along the trail. He then honored me by adding one of the shots of me to the rotation of images which display on the website, so you can see that here as the final image of this collection (or on the Rivendell website).
Above: Photo of Chris Kostman by Grant Petersen

About the bike I rode, I have to say it was one of the very most amazing rides of my life. I'm still stunned at how beautifully it handled everything we threw at it, especially the winding and often steep single-track. I have ridden drop bars off-road plenty, but generally on road bikes in a traditional roadie position. This was my first time with the drop bars high and close (short stem, that is) and it handled perfectly while feeling extremely comfortable. My hands naturally gripped the brake hoods and the balance was absolutely superb. I had absolute control, but hardly needed any; the bike just knew what to do; very little input from me was needed. Practically auto-pilot, you might say! if I were in the market for a "mountain bike," this is the ONLY bike I would even consider; it's that good and that much of a winner. It has no competitors as far as I know. Kudos to Grant and his colleagues for this amazing design. More on the bike below. Meanwhile, be sure to peruse the rest of this blog here at for more about this type of cycling! Also be sure to join us for the Rough Riders Rally in Marin County in 2010!

According to the Rivendell website, "The BOMBADIL is a stout-tubed mountain bike for rough riding and heavy loads. It's not Dutch-heavy, but by contemporary standards of expensive, fine bicycles, it's out there on the edge. The tubes are about extra strong, reinforced, and there's a second top tube to create a small strong triangle even on bigger frames. It's a MOUNTAIN bike, and not a frilly-techy one for gram counters who race in their minds but not in the world. It's not for racing, period. It is a modern mountain bike in the spirit of a 1983 model. Maybe '84."

Flickr gallery of all the images of this ride: Click
July 23-25, 2010 Rough Riders Rally: Click
Rivendell Bicycles: Click
Racing on Team Bridgestone at the 24 Hours of Canaan: Click
My 1992 interview with Grant Petersen: Click

1 comment:

Dan O said...

As an old time Bridgestone and Grant fan - fun read.

Thanks for posting.