From the Library: Stumpjumper, 25 Years of Mountain Biking...

Frequently, these days, advertisers develop marketing campaigns mimicking news or journalistic stories. You see them in newspapers, magazines, even sometimes on the television. I suppose it is a means of giving them an air of importance; when the general public feels overburdened by todays landslide of ads, it is an attempt to make them into something they aren't. So, is this a book, or is it an ad disguised as a book, an elaborate manipulation?

The cynics would argue it is the latter, a masterful coup pulled off by Specialized. I would disagree. Yes Specialized bicycles are front and center, but they were among the first mass produced, affordable mountain bikes on the market, and have earned their place in the history of the sport. Bikes that the company has produced since the very first Stumpjumper rolled out of ... well, whatever it rolled out of ... garage, factory, laboratory all trace their lineage back to a distinct point in time. The Specialized line that evolved after that first bike trace their descent technologically, historically, competitively directly from it.

While the book is primarily centered upon Specialized, it is also much more. Its story spins off to explore some of the history of the activity, and the sport it evolved into. The early Repack crew are here, as are the Clunkers of Crested Butte. It even goes back to touch upon the dirt riding cyclists of the 1950s and 1960s. There are short sections on Team Stumpjumper from the mid-80s, on Ned Overend, and Charles Kelly. There are others as well, others you may not be familiar with, but whose lives were enriched because they rode.

The book's historic photos are close to a treasure trove for those of us who are interested in that sort of thing. I was especially intrigued by the photo of Mike Sinyard (found of Specialized) with some of his early employees (c.1976) including Demi Moore, Sean Penn, and Axel Rose - I never knew any of them had a connection to the bicycling world.

While I was at Interbike I stopped in at the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame booth where Charlie Kelly was manning the table. We talked about the museum for an all too brief moment, I noticed the book, flipped through the pages, Kelly offered to sign it as it opened to "his" page, said it was a five dollar donation to purchase. I said it was a bargain at twice the price, and the deal was done. 

Worth a place in the library for anyone interested in the history of bicycle design, or the history and evolution of mountain biking.

Riedy, Mark   Stumpjumper: 25 Years of Mountain Biking   Halcottsville, NY: Breakaway Books, 2005