tomes tinker

Anatomy Of A Photo: Screen-grab From A Golden Age

Anatomy Of A Photo: Screen-grab From A Golden Age

by / / 125 posts

Even though in today’s mountain bike world the bikes are better, the clothing more appropriate, and there are more trails to ride, there’s no denying the early 90s were the Golden Age of Mountain Biking. Just look at these fellas, and tell me I’m wrong.

Tomac knew what was up. You don’t get such a badass Rainbow Jersey by accident, and his year in the bands (’92) was probably the last time the jersey looked that good. Plain black shorts, white socks, back flat as a pancake. And who else would you expect to be the first to rock a Troy Lee paint job on their helmet?

Tinker, well he’s a man unto himself. Probably the crowd favourite on the strength of recognition, being the only dreadlocked Hispanic riding a fluoro green or purple bike at the time making him easy to spot. That and his cadence, crunching the big ring where others, even Tomac and Ned, feared to tread. Legend has it that Tinker would fill a backpack with the biggest rocks he could find then set off into the mountains for a six hour training ride. Even if it’s an urban myth, the fact that it’s an urban myth about Tinker makes it more than a bit plausible.

Gumwall tyres, polished silver rims, colour matched forks, Campa… Campa? Multicoloured Sidis, Tinker made it all work. Even the Etto helmet looked good on him. Tomac was arguably the most Rule Compliant mountain biker ever. Even with limited resources to work with, these guys set the bar. Not many have reached it since.

// Anatomy of a Photo // Awesome American Guys // Folklore // Mountain Biking // Racing // The Hardmen

  1. Can I say a few words about Tomac?  I’ll admit that as a pedalwan in the late 80’s I wasn’t too interested in mountain biking and the ex-BMX’ers in its pro ranks.  I was too focused on LeMond, Kelly, Roche, Anderson, et. al.

    Then Donald Trump (or someone high up in his apparatus) made the astounding decision to sponsor a fairly-high level stage race in the northeastern United States.  7-11, Panasonic, and PDM were there as well as the national teams of Russia and Germany.  I was living in Poughkeepsie, NY, at the time, and the finish of the first stage was just over the Hudson River in New Paltz, NY.  The pros rode south from Albany and went over Mohonk “Mountain” before descending into New Paltz for the finish.  Mohonk was a big deal, locally, and featured prominently in the USCF District Championship circuit race course.  American fans who were hoping for a strong showing from either LeMond (returning to racing after his hunting accident) or the slurpee boys were instead introduced to none other than Viatcheslav Ekimov take a sprint from his breakaway companions.  Why do I say all of this?  One of the tidbits that passed around the finish line amongst local racers was the fact that Tomac had descended Mohonk on a flat front tire.  A flat front clincher tire.  Finishing in the pack, yes, but that was some serious skill right there.

    Tomac was riding for 7-11 because he won the National Criterium championship the previous year riding basically alone.  He went on to ride in Paris-Roubaix, Ronde van Vlaanderen, and the Giro d’Italia.  A very reputable career on the roads even if we ignore all of his success in the dirt.

  2. @frank

    @cognition

    @frank Really? Drop bars on Tomac and Jaquie’s bikes were awesome in their own right, but I’ve always thought that the origins of the Graveur come from the Tour and Giro riders going over gravel roads in the Alps and Dolomites; particularly the legendary hardmen of the mid-century like Bottechia and Coppi…

    I’ll be the first to point out what fucking legends they were, but those guys were just riding the roads they had. They weren’t doing anything more innovative than just riding their bikes over the highest roads they could find.

    The Graveur scene is much more about leaving the paved, high quality roads and looking for something interesting elsewhere while still going fast and far. These are sub-standard roads and often even trails linking sections of a route together – the kinds of roads where even a 27, 28, or 30mm road tire would be woefully inadequate.

    That gravel scene is found somewhere between MTB and riding good gravel on a road bike like they do on the Strade Bianche presently. Even on my Graveur loop in Seattle proper I’m riding a mix of tarmac, gravel roads/paths, and singletrack. No way would a road bike handle it. Its fast enough to merit a true road position but technical enough to require wider tires with at least some nobs.

    To that end these bikes we’re seeing here in this thread are much closer to where we’re landing now, with super wide tires but still trying to mimic a road bike position somewhat.

    As a point of fact, cornering on these in gravel is an interesting experience; when you go in you start to drift until you’ve leaned it over enough that the nobs catch. Then you’re on rails.

    I could have used those in the Dirty40 last year. There was a downhill sweeping corner with a huge crown, and I found myself on the wrong side of it 1/2 way through it. Quite a scary moment, knowing any brisk ,movement would send me into the ditch. (I was using small block 8s)

  3. @frank Fair enough.  If for no other reason, the sport abandoned the tires and bike geometries of the gravel mountain roads for decades before we started looking at re-modifying ‘cross bikes or road bikes to ride things like D2R2 and Almanzo without killing ourselves.  I still see them as the spiritual predecessors, though.

    And hey — post your Seattle graveur loop sometime, hey?  I’m on the wrong side of the city for it, but I’d be interested and I bet some others would as well.  I’m just trying to connect the John Wayne Pioneer Trail with the crappy roads that link the Denny Creek campground to Snoqualmie Pass.  Haven’t worked it out yet, though…

  4. …and if we’re even remotely talking about skinsuits in mountain biking, why hasn’t anyone brought up Paola Pezzo yet?

  5. @cognition I love the fact that skinsuits were officially banned by the UCI in downhill mountain biking because they gave riders too much of an aerodynamic advantage.

    In other words, the current outfits worn in DH MTB are more for style than performance.

    http://www.pinkbike.com/news/From-beyond-the-grave-Cairns-Downhill-video-2013.html

  6. @cognition

    Massive stud for sure. This shot is already in Brett’s main article, but it is worth looking at again; note the single right-side bar-end shifter and standard DT shifter.

    This is another great shot I don’t think has been posted yet in this thread; I love the combination of STI and bar-end shifter. There was nothing he wouldn’t try if he thought it might make him even just a little bit more badass.

  7. @cognition

    And hey “” post your Seattle Graveur loop sometime, hey? I’m on the wrong side of the city for it, but I’d be interested and I bet some others would as well. I’m just trying to connect the John Wayne Pioneer Trail with the crappy roads that link the Denny Creek campground to Snoqualmie Pass. Haven’t worked it out yet, though…

    I’m still working on it, but I will post it for sure once it’s finalized. Right now I’m doing a series of loops but just need the time to combine a few more together. The single track is in Woodland Park and even goes so far as to include a BMX pump track. Then its off to Green Lake, Lake Washington (trying to find a less tarmac’d way out there), and (planned) Blue Ridge. When all is said and done, should be a single 40km loop if you want to do it all.

  8. @frank

    @Nate

    @frank

    @Weldertron

    @Joey

    Picture #12 begs for a rule regarding MTB suspension. The amount of suspension required is inversely proportional to the amount of testicular fortitude possessed by the rider. If you need 6″³ on both ends there is room for only one tiny testicle, whereas anyone sending boulder drops on a few inches up front immediately confirms their mastery of Rule V.

    Sorry, but i beg to differ.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jilqCro2MVU

    Not only is that riding incredible, the commentators are TOTALLY worth the watch just to hear them shit themselves completely!

    Here’s a version where they show the commentators:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KZV7zfMGTg

    I love the one guy chugging the beer and then pinching the other guy’s beer. Fucking classic.

    I am not a DH MTB fan purely because of those two commentators. If the sport is smart enough to put those two guys behind a microphone, I’m all set.

    Now we’re talking!  Maybe if P&P were chugging beers instead of Red Rose their TDF comments would be more entertaining?

  9. @ChrissyOne

    Is that….Todd Rundgren?

  10. Paola Pezzo?? Schwing!!

  11. @xyxax

    @ChrissyOne

    Is that….Todd Rundgren?

    Do you need to work with @scaler911 on gender ID issues? His relative expertise might be of use.

  12. Careful.

  13. @piwakawaka

    Mmmm Attitude….

    I’ll never forget the first time I saw an Attitude. I’d never seen internal routing before – it was so clean and sexy, and of course Klein had a paint-matched version of the Rock Shox fork that went with it. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. (It was actually THIS one). I never bought a Klein, but I always *wanted* one.

  14. @ChrissyOne

    @piwakawaka

    Mmmm Attitude….

    I’ll never forget the first time I saw an Attitude. I’d never seen internal routing before – it was so clean and sexy, and of course Klein had a paint-matched version of the Rock Shox fork that went with it. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. (It was actually THIS one). I never bought a Klein, but I always *wanted* one.

    I’ve met n ridden with Gary Klein (his shop was down this way in the 90’s). Odd fellow.

  15. @ChrissyOne

    To be clear, I was responding to @xyxax, not to you.

  16. Bygones.

  17. @scaler911

    I’ve met n ridden with Gary Klein (his shop was down this way in the 90″²s). Odd fellow.

    That’s what I’ve heard – I had a friend who used to ride with him. So you from Chehalis area? Ride Capitol Forest at all?

  18. Let’s not forget the guy who made Tomac go faster. ;)

  19. The early days, when MTB racing was carefree:

    http://www.bikereader.com/contributors/Phelan/mammary.html

  20. @ChrissyOne

    @panarchy

    GOLD. This thread is GOLD!

    No, it’s ANODIZED PURPLE.

    …as in bar ends, perhaps?

    My ’92 Rocky Mountain Hammer (poor man’s racer of the day)

    Bruce Spicer and Daryl Price

    Andy Tout, John Tomac and Kirk Molday at the Horseshoe Canada Cup in 1992.

  21. @frank if by some miracle I managed to get my grubby claws on one of these, I don’t think I’d be riding it much, it would join the Time, signed, numbered, Tom Boonen world champs frame, and the 1984 Pinarello track bike hanging on the wall, the bike was way, way cooler than anything, anything else at the time, that integrated stem and bar, the size of the tubing, fuck even the paint job, it’s a work of art, only re-inforced by the oddness of the man himself !

  22. So, now that I’m back to mtb’ing again, too, am I a fucking dork for having bar ends, too?

    Christ it never ends.

    What a life.

  23. I still ride this,occasionally

    Went to get the Volvo Cannondale colours (cheers, cadel), but fell in lust with the ChromAlusion Purpleen. Ecstasy has  a lot to commend it/answer for….

  24. @freddy

    @ChrissyOne

    @panarchy

    GOLD. This thread is GOLD!

    No, it’s ANODIZED PURPLE.

    …as in bar ends, perhaps?

    Bar ends? But of course…

    But in blue to match the fame, of course.

    I had purple bar ends on my Trek 930.

  25. @PeakInTwoYears

    @ChrissyOne

    No offense meant (and todd is godd).

    I’m only confused during waking hours now.

  26. I was only a little kid with dreams of buying a nice bike during this time. But man, those bar ends are the best. I have a friend that still rides with one of those anodized purple big bar ends!

  27. @ChrissyOne

    @scaler911

    I’ve met n ridden with Gary Klein (his shop was down this way in the 90″²s). Odd fellow.

    That’s what I’ve heard – I had a friend who used to ride with him. So you from Chehalis area? Ride Capitol Forest at all?

    I’m a resident of Vantucky (not born n raised, just lived here too long). Have not ridden Capitol Forest, but all over the Gifford out by Rainer, Adams, St Helens etc.

  28. @scaler911

    Haven’t ridden Capitol Forest yet, but looked at it on the map recently and noticed that it’s pretty big. Some friends up here go back and forth between Squirm and Olympia and have ridden it a lot and like it.

  29. I haven’t been down there in over a decade, but there are some fantastically fun rides, and yes, the area is immense, and you can get lost for a whole day and end up on completely the wrong side if you’re not careful. I’m not sure how it is these days, but they used to limit ORV use to certain seasons, which was nice because the quads can be rather jackasses down there.

  30. Yeah, what my buddy said about getting turned around. Herself and I will get down there at some point. The problem with living in the PNW? Too many damned choices.

  31. @piwakawaka

    @frank if by some miracle I managed to get my grubby claws on one of these, I don’t think I’d be riding it much, it would join the Time, signed, numbered, Tom Boonen world champs frame, and the 1984 Pinarello track bike hanging on the wall, the bike was way, way cooler than anything, anything else at the time, that integrated stem and bar, the size of the tubing, fuck even the paint job, it’s a work of art, only re-inforced by the oddness of the man himself !

    Two helmets, one cycling cap. Glad the dude on the top step got it right!

    (take it easy, I know all three are probably legends, I just wasn’t riding mtn. bikes in the early 90s, and as all this shows, my loss)

  32. Did someone say purple anodized?  Behold the early 90s!

    Rule violations aside, I still ride it and I have a second set of wheels with slicks for cruising around town and pulling a Trail-a-Bike.

    The original wheels were destroyed long ago and the cassette, chain, cables and 46t have been replaced but the frame, fork, bars, Flite saddle, seatpost, pedals, and group-san are from the early 1990s.

  33. @ChrissyOne

    @freddy

    @ChrissyOne

    @panarchy

    GOLD. This thread is GOLD!

    No, it’s ANODIZED PURPLE.

    …as in bar ends, perhaps?

    Bar ends? But of course…

    But in blue to match the fame, of course.

    I had purple bar ends on my Trek 930.

    Is this Bar End corner! Brand spakin new on it’s maiden ride, a MTB race in Bright.

    Bought the Balance the same week that the girlfriend at the time wanted to break up. So my weekends were free, so nothing like riding out in the bush with a bunch of mates! Good times!

  34. Awesome, awesome, awesome post! To me, Tomac was the man! For me he’s still the guy promoting Tioga Farmer John and Farmer John’s Cousin tires. He should be in JT Skull’n Bones kit wearing two Swatch watches. Overend was alway the respected elder statesman and Tinker, was the machine. Not cool to me, but somehow cool in his own way. Yet Tomac, going to 7 Eleven and using a Tioga MTB stem on his bike was the coolest! Then, when he wanted to do the occasional MTB race he elected to represent John Parker and ride a Yeti FRO with drops! Wow! How cool was that. I still have a signed poster of him on the wall in the garage above the bicycle work shop. I still only ride a hardtail and fully subscribe to mountain biking of the Golden Age. One day, I’ll get to ride with JT. Great post brett. Great post from Velominati too.

  35. @JCM and the Scott AT3’s! Nice!

  36. @frank I’m beginning to think your as big of a Tomac fan as I. The black and white of JT doing a table top is a classic pick. Love it!

  37. @ChrissyOne I think at Pearl Izumi HQ they have it hanging up behind glass.

  38. @frank

    Much Awesome here.

    1 / 11

    Slideshow:

    Fullscreen:

    Download:

    SO cool! It’s never old to me.

  39. Me, at The Malvern Classis in the early 90’s, happy days on my custom Fisher Big Sur…

  40. Panaracer Dart and Fire gumwall tyres, Clubroost anodized handle bars, Sachs Wavy Griptwist gears, Tektro V brakes, Mavic rims on a Hope red anodized Ti front hub and a Shimano STX Silent rear hub (remember them?!). Club roost saddle. Fisher Big Sur frame, Sachs rear der, Shim XT from der. Lake MTB boots, what was I thinking?! At least the kit matched the helpmet and handlebars/grips!

  41. @VeloJello

    Panaracer Dart and Fire gumwall tyres, Clubroost anodized handle bars, Sachs Wavy Griptwist gears, Tektro V brakes, Mavic rims on a Hope red anodized Ti front hub and a Shimano STX Silent rear hub (remember them?!). Club roost saddle. Fisher Big Sur frame, Sachs rear der, Shim XT from der. Lake MTB boots, what was I thinking?! At least the kit matched the helpmet and handlebars/grips!

    I ran Panaracers for years before going to Spesh Team Control. I see a lot of them on ebay – I may go back!

  42. @cognition

    …and if we’re even remotely talking about skinsuits in mountain biking, why hasn’t anyone brought up Paola Pezzo yet?

    I was so sad that she beat Alison Sydor in Atlanta at the Olympics, but she was certainly memorable.  It would have been awesome to have a Canuck in gold.  XC MTB was a demonstration sport that year I believe.

  43. @Weldertron I love that in the last 20 seconds they can’t even form words, just “wha…th…harrrr…bruw….ahhhhh…”

    Commentator Rob Warner has a show on Red Bull ( http://www.redbull.tv/Robs-Dirty-Business ) and many funny quotes: http://www.pinkbike.com/forum/listcomments/?threadid=75527

  44. @VeloJello Ah The Big Sur!  Mine is Acid Yellow and I swapped out the stock shocks for some sweet Marzocchi’s.  My first love…alas neglected since I fell for the road’s siren song.  This thread makes me think I must go back to my ‘roots’.

  45. @frank

         What kind/size tire is that, Frank? I want to put some gravel grinder/CX tires on my commuter bike (700x32c tires). There’s a park on the way to work that has gravel/sand sections in it. I would love to turn this bike into a gravel grinder/Frankenbike.

  46. @cyclebrarian

    @frank

    What kind/size tire is that, Frank? I want to put some gravel grinder/CX tires on my commuter bike (700x32c tires). There’s a park on the way to work that has gravel/sand sections in it. I would love to turn this bike into a gravel grinder/Frankenbike.

    That would be a Clement LAS 700×33. Knowing Frank, it is probably the tubular version, but they make both.

    If you like gumwalls, Challenge makes a nice one to.

  47. signori, priceless thread – price less. It brings me back to what seems ages ago, when I worked in a bicycle shop mid 80’s to end 90’s. Anodized bar-end -cages -screws -brake boosters every could be delivered in blue/yellow/red etc. In Europe suddenly new brands suddenly appeared; Syncros, white industries, am classic, Chris King – the shop was from one day to another turned into a battle between US, Italy and Japan, and the hardcore roadies (me included) had to accept that MTB bikes  came in boxes ready to go out the door (almost), while our racers still was build in 2cm steps and always custom build.

    It brings me back to my first MTBs, GT Avalance, Specialized Stumpjumper with Suntour XC! and a Swinn with yellow Magura, Softride stem and Look MTBs. Cool days – lots of inovation, pedals, suspension forks/stems, saddles and much more including Paola Pezzo.

  48. Bad photo of the Stumpjumper  Anniversay book which has photo’s from 84.

  49. Link to wear the photo is  since my computer is being utterly uncooperative.

    http://s557.photobucket.com/user/Endurimil/media/Monstercross%202014/image_zpsfde09e04.jpg.html?sort=3&o=9

  50. Wow – great set of MTB race photos.  While I hesitate to sound like an old man, I guess I am since I rode a lot of MTB miles (and races) back in the day.  The clipless pedals Tinker had on his bike were boat anchors.  They were Look pedals with a Campy badge, graced with a metal grate on the backside for shoe traction, and a cut down look cleat that was supposed to work in dirt and mud.  “Supposed to” in mud means that as long as you didn’t step off the bike, they worked in mud and dirt.  The oldest pic of Tinker is from when he rode for ParkPre, way back when he first switched to MTBs.  The stem on Alice B Showtits Cunningham was the upper section of a steel unicrown MTB for that Charlie welded up as a stem.  It was damn cool, as was the bike, too.

    Mountain bike racing back in the ’80s was all about #5. Most were at least 20-25 miles long, loaded with steep-ass climbs, and rough as hell. With no suspension. Good times.

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