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February 04, 2009

KLUNKERZ: A Recreational Cyclist, and Commuter, Meets MTB Legends

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I get e-mails...

I just wanted to let you know that Gary Fisher and his old business partner Charlie Kelly will be coming to town for a free screening of my cycling film, KLUNKERZ, at the end of the month.
 
In 1979 these two cyclists started a little company, cleverly called MountainBikes, that was the first MTB company in the world. They are both really fun guys and they will be available for questions after the film.
 
Klunkerz tells the story of a small group of hippie/athletes who, quite literally, reinvented the wheel. Their passion for cycling created a multi-billion dollar industry and an Olympic sport...
 
The screening is at noon on Friday, 1/30 at the La Paloma Theater in Encinitas. It is part of the Competitor Magazine Film Festival. 
 
If you would like some FREE TICKETS, simply email me.
 
Thanks for your time and I hope to see you there.
 
Ride on,
Billy Savage
writer/producer/director
KLUNKERZ
I wrote back expressing interest in a ticket, explaining that, while I was no MTBer, I loved history, and a good movie.
 
Seems that he found the Cycling Dude "simply by cruising the web and looking for interesting cycling-related blogs." ;-D
 
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I got home from work, Friday morning, at 1230am.
 
I had to catch my 1st of 4 busses, at 345am.
 
Checking my e-mail, eating a late snack, showering, watching the news, and generally getting my act in gear for the journey meant I got no sleep. ;-D
 
At 330am I set out on my bike for the OCTA #60 Bus Stop nearest me.
 
I had my camera, a notebook, pens, and extra batteries, and reading material such as 2 newspapers, and a book.
 
It was dark, cool, and windy.
 
The bus driver and I, having coincidentally only parted company 3 hours previously, had a good laugh about meeting up again so soon. ;-D
 
I slept for the hour long ride to Long Beach, and waited on a bus bench for nearly an hour for the OCTA #1 to San Clemente.
 
On the 2 hour journey to my next connection I spent an hour sleeping, and an hour reading, and gazing out the window.
 
Gazing out the window is the #1 pleasure of this long trip along Pacific Coast Highway.
 
The reason is that, to the west, daytime riders are treated to gorgeous views of various beaches, and the Pacific Ocean, for most of the trip.
 
One can see for miles, out to sea, on a clear day, and this was shaping up to be a very clear day. ;-D
 
In San Clemente, by 8am, the wind had died down, and it was warm.
 
At 830am the San Diego North County Transit #395 heads out to travel thru Camp Pendleton Marine Base, and if you have no valid Picture ID you can forget about making the hour long journey.
 
You would be missing out on vistas both stark, and beautiful, frequent glimpses at life on a U. S, Military Base, encounters with the troops, and even an occasional conversational opportunity with the said brave men and women.
 
For a time, after Sept. 11, all civilians were banned from riding their bikes on the prescibed, specific route, allowed but, in 2005 I help spread the news that it was re-opened.
 
In 2004 I'd told cyclists how to legally get to and from, San Clemente, and Oceanside, despite the ban, and in 2005 told of the re-opening of base access, and the route involved.
 
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In Oceanside I had to wait an half hour for the NCTD #101 to take me to Encinitas.
 
Arriving in town, at 1045am, it was just a short, 1 block, ride to the theater.
 
I love historic theatres!
 
The La Paloma is 80 years young, and you can learn about it on its website.
 
After locking my bike to the bike rack, near the entrance, I took a picture...of a guy taking a picture of a guy (Me!) taking a picture of the Theatre. ;-D
 
As I lowered my camera a long-haired, older gent, walking a good looking, for its age, bicycle, paused to ask me if I was there for the Film Festival.
 
When I said I was invited to see Klunkerz, the very film mentioned on his shirt, his face lit up into a huge smile as he saw my black name badge, and he stuck his hand out, said my name, and introduced himself as Billy Savage, the director of the film. ;-D
 
With more than an hour to go, until the screening, we went inside, he got me a VIP pass, and lanyard, and we chatted a bit.
 
A funny, and interesting man, it is well worth your time to do a Google, and read some of the many interviews he's done in support of his film.
 
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The frame of his trusty steed was a beautiful, well cared for, 1930's-era Schwinn.
 
As I took in the old photos in the lobby, and discussed the history of the theatre with one of the folks who runs the place, more people began to arrive.
 
I found myself chatting with assorted cycling insiders, and ordinary folks, whose names I didn't get, passing out my card to anyone interested in the writings of someone called a BikeBlogger.
 
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I am the 1st to admit that, when it comes to cycling, I don't know Billy Savage from Dr. Savage, Gary Fisher from Gary Fischer, or one Charlie Kelly from another, so to find myself, a comparative no-body, being introduced to 2 of the acknowledged giants of the sport, and industry, was as much an embarrassment, as a very great pleasure, and left me, more than once, a bit nervous as I tried to express myself.
 
At one point, as I'm standing around, minding my own business, I found myself chatting with Billy, and an older man in black who took a picture of me, and my badge, with his cell phone camera.
 
That was my introduction to the one and only, legendary, Gary Fisher. ;-D
 
I shook his hand, admitted to knowing absolutely squat about him, but avowed as how I WAS honored just the same to meet him, and talked about my interest in cycling, and my blog. ;-D
 
After watching folks come up and ask him for autographs I got up the nerve to ask for a photo, and gave him my card as well.
 
A simple Google Search will turn up all sorts of opinions of the man, and his accomplshments, and what he means to the world of cycling, as many favorable, as not, but none of that, discovered in the days since I met him, changed my original opinion.
 
In this, and later encounters, after the show, I found him to be a friendly, thoughtful, man, with a sense of humor, and the willingness to engage in conversations with those around him, even someone like me, with no experience hanging out in such rarified surroundings, and mingling with the mighty.
 
 
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Meeting Charlie Kelly, and chatting with him about my blogging, and bicycling, was just as interesting, and fun, as with Mr. Fisher.
 
Seeing this film also cleared up my ignorance about him as well.
 
Like Gary Fisher, he was a pioneer in Mountain Biking.
 
When I asked him about having a website I told him I was interested to see if there was anything on it of interest to my readers, and worth pointing them to with a link in my sidebar, to it (As well as the Moutain Bike Hall of Fame).
 
To say that there is much to like on his site is an understatement.
 
I love history, and interesting photographs, and artwork, and  Charlie Kelly's Mountain Bike HubSite has a ton of it to share, and plenty of useful links, as well.
 
It was finally time for the film to start and the room was filled up with cyclists of all ages and backrounds.
 
Klunkerz: A Film About Mountain Bikes, is an 83 minute documentary that showcases the very entertaining, complex, and adventurous tale of the birth of the Mountain Bike, the MTB Industry, and the sport of Mountain Biking, waaay back in those Dark Ages of the late 20th Century known as the Late 60's, the 70's, and the 80's.
 
It was presented as part of the Inaugural Competitor Film Festival, an event designed to "Capture the passion of endurance sports", and featuring 5 films, 4 of which debuted in 2008.



I didn't know what to expect, having not even seen the trailer before hand, and to say that things suddenly got very rowdy on the screen would be an understatement. ;-D
 
Security was tight, as the next picture shows, with a specially trained employee walking up and down every aisle, and between every row of seats, throughout the screening. He was rewarded for his dedication to duty with frequent pats on the back, and rubs of the chin, and ears, by many in attendance.
 
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Northern California is an interesting place.
 
The Gold Rush & its aftermath, gave birth to the American obsession with shiny rocks, and California's Prostitution, Real Estate, Journalism, and Entertainment Industries (Samuel Clemens, among others, came there as early as the 1860's), among many others.
 
Everyone knows what happens in San Francisco, sometimes before it happens, but just beyond the Golden Gate Bridge, in Marin County (Now home of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition.), something happened that spent a long time under anyones radar.
 
A bunch of hippies, and hippy wanna-bes, were happily traipsin' around in the small towns, hills, and mountains, on, and around Mount Tamalpais, on modified pre-WW2 bicycles.
 
I know, I know...you are scratching your head, and going What the, um, heck? ;-D
 
This was the 60's & 70's! Why weren't they out there war protesting, and smoking pot with bare-breasted women, like normal hippies?
 
I don't know about the protesting, but the movie makes abundantly clear that these particular young people did not neglect either pot, or bare-breasted women. ;-D
 
They developed their bikes, from scavenged bicycle, and motorcycle scraps through trial, and error, lots of trial, and lots and lots of error, risking life and limb for the thrill of the downhill, and speed, baby, speed!
 
Oh, and the occasional (OK, OK, mayby more than occasional!) baggie of pot as a prize.
 
Only the strongest, hertiest parts (human, not just machine!) could survive what all this experimentation put them through.
 
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and everyone was having not just a good time, but the times of their lives.
 
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This film is chock full of old film footage, and stock photographs, of these hearty pioneers, as they bravely, and joyously (The Wussies amongst my readers might say...stupidly.) went about their adventures, including hanging out with the afore mentioned bare-breasted  women (1 woman was brave enough to join the boys, among this happy band of bicycling buddies, pedaling around the mountains: Wende Cragg.), and taking header, after header, and crash after crash, sometimes quite bloodily.
 
The film has scenes where some of our heroes talk about the good old days.
 
The film goes on to tell the story of the evolution of what became known as the sport of Mountain Biking, from these early days when they discovered other riders, and experimentors, like themselves (The Morrow Dirt Club, among them), in other places, and got together to race in the now legendary Repack Series of races, and do some early networking, to the initial birth panges of the early MTB manufacturing businesses, where Gary Fisher, Charlie Kelly, Joe Breeze, Tom Ritchey, Charlie Cunningham, and others led the way, in the late 70's and early 80's.
 
The 1st Custom MTB Frame was made in 1977...
 
Joe Breezes "Breezers" are considered the 1st "True" Mountain Bikes ever built.
 
Gary, and Charlie started a company together in 1979, and Tom made the frames.
 
By 1983 the cycling world saw bikes such as the Specialized Stump Jumper, and bikes by almost every major manufacturer, beginning to stir the public imagination regarding riding not just any bicycle, but a certain type of bicycle... the Mountain Bike.
 
By 1986 MTB outsold ROAD for the first time, and cycling was soon changed forever.
 
Some of those high, happy, hippies had grown into happy, capitalist enterpeneurs, and so they remain to this day.
 
Gray-haired, and in some cases still long-haired, they may be, but some of these pioneers still get out there and ride their bikes where they please, every chance they get.
 
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This extremely entertaining, and informative, film was a joy to watch, from start to finish, as some of the biggest names in the industry today and, just as importantly in my view, some of the more obscure, and long forgotten, characters from those early days, shine as they share their stories, and opinions, on the birth, growth, present, and future, of Mountain Biking, and Bicycling in general.
 
After the film Billy Savage, Gary Fisher, and Charlie Kelly took the stage to field questions.
 
It was then that I stood up and asked one.
 
In the film Tom Ritchey says something, near the end, that struck a deep chord with me...
 
He calls himself an "Evangelist for Cycling", saying "I want to tell people about it!"
 
I'm just an ordinary cyclist, with opinions, curiosity, an interest in spreading the word about cycling, and the urge to get out there and ride, and am far from being an expert on much of anything cycling.
 
When I became one of the earliest ( I keep hoping to find more than just 1 person with a BikeBlog that is older, as being a "pioneer" is hard work that I sometimes wonder if I am the best qualified to represent. ) BikeBloggers in January 2003, I created the following description for me, and this blog:
 
Do You Bicycle? Dedicated to the proposition that bike riding is good for you and fun. Commentary, links, news, opinion, reviews, stories, travelogue, and occasional heads up about events. An ordinary road cyclist spreads the word and the word is BICYCLE!
 
You can see why what Mr. Ritchey said means so much to me.
 
I, and all who have come after me, including those few who have told me that my early work inspired them to start blogging, are evangelists of a sort.
 
Each of us, in our own way, with whatever knowledge, time, and resources at our command, do our best to preach the Gospel of the Bicycle to the unwashed, car-addled, masses of the present, and their up and coming young skulls full of mush, that will be the motorists, and potential cyclists, of the future.
 
I am proud to say that BikeBlogging has come into its own, the last 3 years, with many bloggers, because of their knowledge, time, connections, and resources, doing things with their blogs, and thru podcasting, and YouTube, that I can never do, and thus reaching masses of people that I can never reach.
 
So I asked Gary Fisher a question about this notion of Evangelizing, expressed by Ritchey, and how he felt about the modern media, as found on the Internet, playing a grwing, and influential, role in educating, and informing present, and future, cyclists.
 
He said he likes spreading the word about bicycling, and building bikes that people want to buy, and ride.
 
He expressed concern about bicycle manufacturing leaving America entirely, calling Politicians "Wimps!".
 
He feels that America can make cheaper bicycles with less government interference regarding polution, and safety, concerns.
 
He spoke of the Joy of Bicycling, with a message to BikeBloggers, Podcasters, and YouTube film makers:
 
BE PROUD OF WHAT YOU DO!
 
YOU ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING.
 
Among the other questions asked Billy Savage answered one about the conflict on the trail between hikers, and MTBers.
 
He said that sabotage by hikers has become consistently less in recent years than in the old days, and Gary Fisher agreed, with both noting that sharing the trail, and followig the law, by both sides, was important.
 
Gary Fisher expressed amazement, and admiration, over the skill level of those involved in Cycling sports today, especially the young kids doing tricks, stunts, and skills of complexity, and daring.
 
After the Q & A I went in search of Gary Fisher to thank him for what he said in answering my question, and try to explain why I asked it.
 
I was nervous as I shook his hand and tried to explain in a few short words, and a couple of brief minutes, what I can do so much better on a blog, as it was an emotional sort of feeling I had within me.
 
As the crowd of admirers swirled around us, each eager for their own moment with the great man, and maybe even a picture, or autograph, I turned and began to walk away.
 
Suddenly...There was Mr. Fisher, reaching out through the crowd to firmly shake my hand one more time, and thank me for coming.
 
Then he was gone, swallowed up by the crowd...
 
After getting a picture with Billy Savage, telling him that I loved the film, and would let him know when this post was up, I left to head out on my bike ride from Encinitas to Oceanside, and the bus rides has home that would follow.
 
Klunkerz, the first Documentary for its director, is a joy for any cyclist, including those not into Mountain Biking, and I even recommend it for anyone interested in seeing an extremely well made Documentary film.

The Official Klunkerz Film website has the wonderful trailer for the film, which is now on DVD (See link above!).
 
There is a wonderful gallery of photos, and a collection of MTB, and Cycling Links.
 
Also on the website are pictures, and comprehensive bios, of the men, and women who were seen, and heard from, in the film, including many MTB Hall of Famers, and those who helped film it.
 
 There are loads of reviews, from media types, inside, and out of, the cycling industry.
 
If I haven't persuaded you to see this film, yet, maybe they can clinch the deal. ;-D
 
Visit the official site, here.
 
 
***NOTE***
 
KLUNKERZ 2: My After Film Bike Ride, from Encinitas to Oceanside
 
***END  NOTE***
 
***UPDATE 1 - 2/10***
 
The Endurance Sports Awards were held last weekend at Sea World in San Diego, California.
 
 Klunkerz was voted 2008 Cycling Film of the Year.

***END UPDATE***

***UPDATE 2 - 2/10***

A hearty welcome to all Cyclists who learned of my story thanks to the publicity that Charlie Kelly has undertaken on behalf of the film, in the days since it was shown in Encinitas, on various MTB related Websites, and Message Boards.

Thank U Charlie! ;-D

***END UPDATE***


 

February 4, 2009 in Life, The Bike Trail, and Everything | Permalink

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Comments

So, are you saying you had a good time?

Me too.

There are always so many interesting people at these events that I never get to talk to anyone as long as I would like to.

Thanks for the mention and the link.

Posted by: Repack Rider (Charlie Kelly) | Feb 4, 2009 9:03:34 PM

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