Recently, we reached the 40th anniversary of the first timed races organized by Charlie Kelly in Marin County, CA. These are the legendary Repack races, so named because you had to repack the grease that melted away from the blistering fire road downhill.
A lot of people – myself included – would consider these races to be the birth of mountain biking as we currently know it in 2016.
There are people will argue this though, and that’s fine – but they’re wrong.
Let’s explore why.
As I’ve mentioned before, TeamCow is about the bike. To that end, I’m going to step it up in the next few months and write a little piece about each of the vintage manufacturers that truly matter.
We’ll start with what was once the biggest bicycle company in the world, Schwinn.
Some of you I’m sure are wondering if this is because they sell cheap bikes at Canadian Tire. It wasn’t always this way – at one time, Schwinn completely dominated the American market. Like Xerox meant photocopy, and Kleenex meant tissue, Schwinn meant bicycle.
However, they ignored what was happening in the rest of the world, and ended up trying to sell very old fashioned bikes to a market that wanted lightweight ten-speeds.
They fought on bravely for a while, getting help from an upstart Taiwanese maker (you may have heard of them, they later became Giant) but their infrastructure was too old, their leadership too out of touch. They eventually went bankrupt in 1992, though continued to operate, but then declared bankruptcy again in 2001.