From the Library: Fat Tire Flyer, Repack and the Birth of Mountain Biking

I believe the highest praise you can give a book, or any piece of literature really (since "book" form is not a requirement) is that it either 1. inspires you, or 2. takes you to a particular place or time where you relive, or otherwise feel part of some event(s). 

It takes more than a few years, time enough to look back, realize that you were not only around during the birth of something, but a part of its creation. Looking back decades, maybe, later and realizing "yeah, that was something pretty amazing" while at the time it was simply doing your thing. Author of the Fat Tire Flyer, Charlie Kelly, was one of those people fortunate to be there at the beginning. No, not of time. Geez. At the birth of mountain biking which, come to think about it, some people may very well regard as the beginning of time, or at least life as they / we know it.

Kelly was there - For the piecing together of the first mountain bikes, the refinement of those very same bikes, for the first Repack race, the Appetite Seminars, Crested Butte to Aspen, NORBA, people with names you know, like Ritchey and Fisher and Breeze, and many others with names you may not know, including some of the earliest women mountain bikers, like Wende Cragg. Kelly was there, a part of what has become history and lore; he is there in the photos, and there in the tales, and because of that we, thankfully, have this book

How Charlie managed to hold on to all the mementos and documentation from the era of paper, and print photos could be a tale in itself. That he did so, and has been able to present it to us, that we can relive the birth and early development of mountain biking, is a clear boon in my book. Incidentally, don't end your reading of Fat Tire Flyer where the appendix pages begin. Those pages offer a collection of some of Kelly's early writing (beyond FTF) and, from their historical perspective, are every bit as relevant as the bulk of the book (all be it, without the photos).

Returning to that first sentence up above, Kelly's writing coupled with the myriad photos did indeed transport me back to a time and place, an incidental witness to the birth of a passion I give thought to each day - mountain biking.

Kelly, Charlie   Fat Tire Flyer: Repack and the Birth of Mountain Biking  Boulder, CO: Velo Press, 2014


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