"To know where you're going, you have to know where you've been"
And with that in mind I sat down and watched the much lauded DVD, Klunkerz
, a movie documenting the early mountain bike movement during the late '60's and early '70's. Lots of people had taken bicycles into the bush long before these men, but this particular group of riders can lay claim to more innovation than any other, and thankfully for us, there were people around to document it as it all happened. Read On And Watch The Trailer...
Klunkerz really is quite the film. I am always one to enjoy a good documentary, but when the subject is mountain biking and the documentary is a full length DVD, well then my interest is really aroused. Directed by Billy Savage, Klunkerz has a cast list that nearly reads like a MTB Hall Of Fame members list: Charlie Kelly, Gary Fisher, Tom Ritchey, Mike Sinyard, and Charlie Cunningham are just some of the faces featured in the film, as well as many others.Gary Fisher
The description on the case really sums it up best:In the late 1960's and early 1970's A handful of hippie cyclistsliterally re-invented the wheel. These early pioneers scavengedfrom dumpsters and junkyards and lifted parts from roadbikes and motorcycles to build a better way down the mountain.Little did they realize their obsessive tinkering would ultimatelylead to the birth of a multi-billion dollar industry and an olympicsport. These modified bikes, the precursor to the modern-daymountain bike, became affectionately known as KlunkerzKlunkerz contents page
From the start you are introduced to some of the main players, places, and the klunkerz themselves. Even before there was ever really a mountain biking identity, the sport managed to bring together people from all walks of life. From national level road racers looking for something different, to teens just wanting to get out into the bush, everyone seemed to have the same idea: let's ride some of these old bikes as fast as we can down some hills. The machines they sat upon really were something else and went by many names. The favored bike seemed to be something from the '30's or '40's due to its somewhat more robust build as well as higher and slacker geometry. Your new fancy bike has more in common with these old dinosaurs than you think.
Groups of mountain bikers evolved separately, no doubt proving that everyone was on to something. Speaking of being on something, a great anecdote is the story of the Larkspur Canyon Gang, a group of riders that held their own races down the fire roads with the winner netting himself a bag of pot! Some of the old footage is impressive, these guys were not just taking a cruise in the bush, they were hauling ass. I seriously doubt most of us could keep up with them down some of the steep and loose fire roads, especially in the bends!Good thing otherwise maybe no one would have remembered to film it!
Check out the teaser for Klunkerz below:
Having basically lived in bicycle stores for the last 15 years of my life, I was most impressed with the enthusiasm that the actual bikes came together with. It was nothing like today, there was no simply walking into your local shop and picking out a mountain bike, everything had to be pieced together from different beasts to make a machine that could handle riding off road on a regular basis. Stories about riders having secret stashes of bars, stems, and hubs hidden in the back of stores only to be pilfered by other eager riders was really entertaining.An original Klunker that was pieced together by Gary Fisher
What could have been the first timed DH race was held down Repack, affectionately named as such because of the necessity to repack your rear hub bearings after doing a run. Much like many rides today there were girls, beer, and trucks waiting at the bottom for everyone after their runs. The more things change, the more they stay the same it seems. There was braaaping a long time before your pajama-like TLD gear and pink goggles ever showed up!
Klunkerz covers so much history and too many amazing stories for me to tell you about. From the first ragtag isolated groups of riders that began to head off road, to the evolution of the bikes and the struggles to make them reliable, even into the business side of what was to come with mountain biking, Klunkerz is an amazing story of where we came from. What really became apparent to me as I watched the movie is that the basic idea of simply having a blast in the bush while on your bike is still the same. We really are still doing the same thing, sure the bikes have changed and there may be less denim and work gloves, but we all have a lot more in common with the riders in this movie than you may suspect at first. Pick yourself up a copy of Klunkerz and see how it was done, how it still is done. This movie would make a great addition to any rider's DVD library. Learn more at www.klunkerz.com.Mike "Kakah" Levy
Bonus Gary Fisher shot!