Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fat Tire Flyer: Repack and the Birth of Mountain Biking - Charlie Kelly

After reading about its release to the masses, I picked up a copy of Charlie Kelly's new book a few weeks ago. Upon arrival to the official Dan O estate, I quickly read through it as I'm usually disposed to do with a new book. Especially one about old school mountain biking. The book did not disappoint, well done indeed.

Recently during a rainy weekend, I pulled it off the bookshelf for a slower reread and ponder the historical photos also included at no extra charge. Call now, operators are standing by.

As you may or may not be aware, Charlie Kelly was a key player in what you and I now call "Mountain Biking". Yes, other folks also constructed similar bikes during that era - and even earlier - but Charlie Kelly, Gary Fisher, Joe BreezeTom Ritchey and others collaborated, created, and marketed what evolved into what the mountain bike scene is today. They are truly the founding fathers of the mountain bike movement.

And not to forget Wende Cragg, the godmother of mountain bikes. She was there riding with this gang and without her impressive collection of photographs, we wouldn't have the visual documentary of this bicycle revolution. Fantastic that she carried a camera during this early adventure.

Being the old school mountain biker myself - first mountain bike for me in 1984 - I was already familiar with story about the birth of it all. This through various articles and media over the years. Even so, this book being the best of 'em. Story of it all in chronological order through the eyes and words of Kelly himself. You couldn't ask for better tour guide.

Some of the other folks from that era have become a bit more famous and certainly more wealthily, via bike companies associated to them. When it comes down to it though, Kelly was also right there and perhaps the most collaborative of 'em all. From modifying Schwinn klunkers into early prototype mountain bikes, starting the first production mountain bike company, organizing the first downhill Repack mountain bike races and large scale organized rides, the creation of NORBA, to the first mountain bike publication - Fat Tire Flyer. The blueprint of mountain biking today.

Kelly truly defines the soul of mountain biking and his impact still resonates through the sport today. Check out this book and you'll see why. Highly recommended.

Match it up with this DVD and you'll become seriously schooled and perhaps nod your helmet in appreciation, next time you roll that modern long travel rig down your favorite trail.


  1. Just noticed this. Thanks so much for the kind words. I can't thank Velopress enough for the amazing job of artwork, layout and the expensive printing job. Then they sell it for about half of what similar books cost, which is fine with me.

    Hopefully this will be in the library of every literate mountain biker. Both of them.

  2. Charlie Kelly - thanks for stopping by my tiny slice of the Internet. Just doing my part to get some folks pointed to your cool book. Thanks for writing it and, uh - getting this whole "mountain bike" thing rolling...