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

tomes tinker

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.

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125 Replies to “Anatomy Of A Photo: Screen-grab From A Golden Age”

  1. @Zman

    Rule #5a, “Shut the fuck up and ride your bike”.

    Should state “Harden the fuck up “when” you ride your bike.” or “Shut the fuck up “while” you ride your bike.”

  2. @unversio

    @Zman

    Rule #5a, “Shut the fuck up and ride your bike”.

    Should state “Harden the fuck up “when” you ride your bike.” or “Shut the fuck up “while” you ride your bike.”

    Then again “wait while” has a completely different meaning in Yorkshire where the signs at level crossings that say “Wait while red lights flash” could have the exact opposite effect to that intended.

  3. @Zman

    It seems you guys pay just a bit too much attention yo fashion, and what riders are wearings, especially in The Rules. What’s next, having the correct haircut?

    Tomac just showed up at work with his lunch pail, got on his bike, and just rode the wheels off it. No tats, no bullshit, no shit-talking, no dead-fish hanging around his neck. You lot could learn from this.

    Rule #5a, “Shut the fuck up and ride your bike”.

    Errr . . . hate to burst your wee bubble, but look at the pic of Tomac in the first picture: he has spent considerable time in the barber’s chair getting it cut and styled just so . . . Clearly, Mr Tomac did have what he considered the “correct haircut.”

  4. @wiscot Every two weeks I have what is referred to as “race cut” to make sure the helmet feels right — and looks right. Shabby hair leads to shabby kit, shoes, legs, tactics, performance, speed… keep your head tuned up.

  5. @Zman You had me lost after fashion.

    I read it again and got as far as the bit about having the correct haircut, which is so wrong. Have you ever tries gelling your hair to look like this?

    Anyway, haircuts are irrelevant if you’ve got the right retro cap or Belgian winter hat (obviously the Rapha versions of those are just as good).

  6. @unversio

    @wiscot Every two weeks I have what is referred to as “race cut” to make sure the helmet feels right “” and looks right. Shabby hair leads to shabby kit, shoes, legs, tactics, performance, speed… keep your head tuned up.

    Exactly.

  7. @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

  8. @Chris

    @Zman You had me lost after fashion.

    I read it again and got as far as the bit about having the correct haircut, which is so wrong. Have you ever tries gelling your hair to look like this?

    Anyway, haircuts are irrelevant if you’ve got the right retro cap or Belgian winter hat (obviously the Rapha versions of those are just as good).

    exactly

    even on the mtn bike, even tho its singlespeed rigid style, i always ride proper, now in 3/4 bib knickers, and cap under helmet, arm warmers when appropriate

    however, lets be clear, there is something totally refreshing about throwing the mtn bikes in the back of your rig, running like kiddo’s to the woods/trails, and playing all day, meeting up with friends and kicking one another around.  Its carefree.  If theres mud, its better, vs the cleaner the better road ride.  It helps me regain my love for all things bipedicular to just let it go for a while and not worry about the grit and grime

  9. @Souleur

    @Chris

    @Zman You had me lost after fashion.

    I read it again and got as far as the bit about having the correct haircut, which is so wrong. Have you ever tries gelling your hair to look like this?

    Anyway, haircuts are irrelevant if you’ve got the right retro cap or Belgian winter hat (obviously the Rapha versions of those are just as good).

    exactly

    even on the mtn bike, even tho its singlespeed rigid style, i always ride proper, now in 3/4 bib knickers, and cap under helmet, arm warmers when appropriate

    however, lets be clear, there is something totally refreshing about throwing the mtn bikes in the back of your rig, running like kiddo’s to the woods/trails, and playing all day, meeting up with friends and kicking one another around. Its carefree. If theres mud, its better, vs the cleaner the better road ride. It helps me regain my love for all things bipedicular to just let it go for a while and not worry about the grit and grime

    Good for you! Horses for Courses as they say – you follow the Rules even when not entirely required in the MTB-ing. In the second scenario, you relax and go with the flow/situation. Recharge the batteries and resume Rule compliance when necessary/required.

  10. @frank

    Jacquie Phelan – I quess she must be credited (or, rather, Charlie Cunningham should be) for the first Graveur.

    WTF kind of stem is on that bike? I have no idea but it’s pretty awesome.

    Crazy how long ago the late 80s/early 90s MTB scene seems now. I don’t really follow it now, but it sure had some characters back in the day: Tomac,. Tinker, Ned, Missy, Jackie.

  11. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….  Complete article from the UCI MTB Worlds 1991, Lucca Di Bagna.  Albert Itens skinsuite was a definite highlight..

    [dmalbum: path=”/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/pmoll/2014.01.28.12.05.23/4//”/]

  12. @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…

  13. @wiscot That, sir, is a Charlie Cunningham custom stem.  It was called an L.D. stem, because it goes straight up and then curves “down”, hence the Limp D… syndrome.

    Charlie has a number of other (more significant) contributions to early mountain bikes:  One of the first guys to weld up heat-treated oversized aluminum tubes into frames, one of the early advocates of a sloping top tube; as part of WTB (Wilderness Trail Bikes) helped invent the Dirt Drop handlebars, the rollercam brake, and Grease Guard hubs.  He’s a player.  Wikipedia says that he designed the RM-20 for Araya and the Ground Control for Specializeed.  I hadn’t known about those.

  14. @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.

  15. @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.

  16. 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.

  17. @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)

  18. @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…

  19. @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.

  20. @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.

  21. @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?

  22. @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.

  23. @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.

  24. @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?

  25. @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.

  26. @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 !

  27. 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.

  28. 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….

  29. 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!

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