Thursday, October 25, 2007

Who's First? Who Cares!

Much has been written and said about who was the first "mountain biker", who made the first "mountain bike", and the "origins of the sport" of mountain biking. Several claims of "first" are out there with new "firsts" being discovered every other year seemingly. Here's something to illustrate my point.

Did you know that the guy that invented mountain bikes was murdered recently by a tree trimmer named Charlie Cunningham?

No, not that Charlie Cunningham! A mountain bike pioneer and one of the founders of WTB. Although he has been known to live in a tree......... No not that guy. Anyway, this is about Charles Finley Scott, who according to a story on Bicycle Retailer and Industry News and the recent movie "Klunkerz" is "the man many credit to having invented the mountain bike." Here is an excerpt from the BRAIN story:

"It was Scott, who, in 1953, outfitted a Schwinn bicycle with balloon tires, multiple gears and more powerful brakes, calling it his "woodsie bike." He was among the first in the United States to make a sport out of bombing down mountains on a bicycle, according to many cycling historians."

Too bad his "sport" didn't catch on in 1953, or I could have been mountain biking long before I was. That's the thing with inventors. They often are socially inept savants that can't promote themselves out of a wet paper sack! So what if he was the first. (Which is a dubious claim anyway) It made zero impact on cycling, sport, and culture. The "perfect storm", as it were, was attained in Marin County back in the late seventies. From that scene sport, culture, and cycling were forever changed. The tools used may have been put together before, but there's more to it than bombing down a mountainside on a "woodsie" all by yourself.

This fruitless "first" stuff is all rather pompous and silly anyway. Witness the recent flap about who made the first 29"er that came up in Dirt Rag recently. Really, who cares? I'm just glad that all the parts came together and that I can enjoy my off road experience in a better way than before. And why is it that one person has to be credited? At least the movie Klunkerz tried to point out that it was a group effort. Can't we just leave it at that and celebrate the spirit of the thing. It's more than just one person, place, or thing.

Who's first? Who cares! Let's ride!

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