Origin of Man & Bike = Marin County Offroad

October 23, 2009

Filed under: Marin Living — Dave DuPont @ 10:40 am

Biking is Thriving Where Mountain Biking Began

Whether you’re into BMX, Mountain or Road bicycling, Marin is a great place to do it. Established biking trails, paved bike pathways and the terrain popular with BMXers are all found throughout the County. It also happens that Marin County was the birthplace of Mountain biking. But, perhaps the most popular form of biking nowadays is Road bicycling.

Let’s begin with some history. BMX, as a category, isn’t as common in Marin as the other types of biking, but it’s interesting to know that well-known BMX biker Billy Savage lived and biked in Marin from 1976 to 1983.

Designed for stunts, tricks, and racing on hilly dirt BMX tracks, BMX bicycles have a have a single gear ratio with a freewheel and are built with smaller frames and wheels with wider, treaded tires. They have to be extremely sturdy machines because they take a beating during some extreme sporting events!

It was clear that BMX had finally arrived when BMX events were part of the Summer Olympics in China in 2008 in four different venues, which was a first for the sport. U.S. cyclists took half of the first six medals in BMX racing ever awarded in the history of the Olympics.

The Web site www.klunkerz.com provides complete information about each of the individuals who participated in mountain biking in Marin during the 1970s to make it the world-class sport that it is today. Mountain biking is rough and tough going and a good day isn’t complete without getting at least some mud in your teeth.

Mountain biking pioneers did a lot of their biking on downhill trails they carved out around Mount Tamalpais in the 1970s. This was when Joe Breeze, Gary Fisher and others converted cruisers and balloon-tire bicycles into machines that could weather any type of road conditions.

Billy Savage recently directed a film about the early days of mountain biking in Marin called “Klunkerz.” In the process of making his film, what he found “fascinating is that all the pioneers are very committed to the bicycle as transportation, and to the ecological and physical benefits of cycling to this day. They gave those old Klunkerz a new life, rescuing them out of trashcans and junkyards. They were reducing, reusing, and recycling long before it was hip to be green. They all continue to live this way in all aspects of their lives.”

Road bicycling has become very popular in recent years as the county establishes more bike paths where serious road cyclists can do some serious biking.  The Marin County Bicycling Coalition (www.marinbike.org) “promotes safe bicycling for everyday transportation and recreation.” Marin County is one of only four counties nationwide that are engaged in a federal Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Program that promotes road bicycling, particularly commuting. The goal of The Marin County Bicycle Coalition is for 20% of trips in Marin County to be made by walking or bicycling.

The MCBC Web site offers all the latest about this and other initiatives underway under the umbrella of this ambitious organization. One of their Web pages has links to a wonderful array of informative pages, including the following:

  • (More than) 50 Good Reasons to Bicycle
  • Benefits of Bicycle Commuting
  • The Marin Bicycle Map (free upon joining the Marin County Bicycling Coalition)
  • Riding directions via the North-South Greenway from San Francisco to Petaluma
  • Riding directions via Highway 1 to the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Basic Cycling Essentials
  • Cycling for Fun
  • Bicycle Etiquette
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