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Sun Mar 08, 2015 at 02:12 PM PDT

Reviews of My Book

by RepackRider

In 1979 my best friend Gary Fisher and I rented a garage, and gave our two-man enterprise the grandiose name of "MountainBikes."  As it worked out, we were onto something, a design which turned out to drive the biggest change in bicycling of the 20th Century, and an Olympic and World Championship sport which took its name from our little company

I wrote a book about this amazing adventure.  Every review has been overwhelmingly positive, and I thought I would post links to those reviews for any Kossacks who are members of the cycling community.

It wouldn't bother me if any of you bought it.

Cover of my book,
Dirt Rag

Wall Street Journal

Pez Cycling Bookshelf




Marin Independent Journal

US Cycling  Report

The Jersey Pocket

VeloNews Interview

Joe Breeze and Breezer #2

Factory Jackson

Book excerpt in Dirt Rag

"Fat Tire Flyer" Facebook Page


Thu Feb 26, 2015 at 12:06 PM PST

Anza-Borrego Exploration

by RepackRider

Desert Rainbow
The four-day weekend was all anyone could ask.  On Friday, February 20, I flew into San Diego with Jacquie Phelan in tow, courtesy of Dave Duncan, owner of Bike Borrego.  Dave picked us up and after a two-hour drive, delivered us to Borrego Springs, a town that lies in the center of the enormous expanse of Anza-Borrego State Park. The "Anza" in that name is the Spanish explorer who eventually made his way to San Francisco Bay by this route.  This is desert country, and as in any desert, where there is an oasis such as Borrego Springs, there are people.

The purpose of my trip was to promote my book, Fat Tire Flyer: Repack and the Birth of Mountain Biking.  My traveling and cycling companion, Jacquie Phelan, is a three time national mountain bike champion.  In connection with my book promotion, she and I were the "celebrity leaders" on a couple of mountain bike excursions.  People paid, some dearly, to ride with us, with the proceeds going to the Anza-Borrego Foundation.

Desert sunset
More pix and story below.
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Mon Jan 26, 2015 at 09:52 AM PST

An amazing collection

by RepackRider

A collection of postcards, all over 100 years old, has been handed down to me.  I have no idea how many people's hands the collection passed through in the century since they were sent, but somehow they stayed together.  To my knowledge, no one looked at them very closely.  As the keeper of the family archives, I was the most recent curator.  

I had the bundle of cards for some years before I finally put them into a photo album with clear pages, so you could see both sides..  I tossed the album into my truck, where it rode around for a few weeks, until I gave a friend a ride, and asked him whether he would like to see something interesting.  I showed him the album.

He flipped out.  He had to inspect them closely, and he took the album home for a couple of weeks.

When he returned it, I took a closer look, and he was right, it's an amazing collection.  I scanned them all.  The scans are much better than the originals when it comes to inspecting them, they can be blown up for closer looks at the pictures, the postmarks and the stamps.  And of course the scans can be made available to others.

The collection was compiled by a woman named Maggie Newbrough.  She apparently lived at the same address as my father's uncle and family, and she collected postcards.  Another uncle traveled the world, and sent postcards from everywhere he landed for Maggie's collection.  As it happened, he landed in some amazing places, and he was interested in what there was to be seen.  Among the places he visited were Japan, China, the Philippines, Java, Borneo, Ceylon, India, Egypt, and all of Europe.

I find the messages and postmarks as interesting as the cards themselves.  Ed Hilf visited exotic places, and somehow the cards found their way to Cincinnati.  He wrote in a beautiful hand, flowing script that no one uses today.

Before 1907 one side of the postcard was strictly for the address, so the messages are written on the side with the photo.  After that year messages could be written on the address side.

One postcard was sent from China on April 18, 1906, the same day as the San Francisco earthquake.  Because of the International Dateline, it was actually April 17 in San Francisco.  The letter mailed the next day is postmarked at just about the same time as the temblor, April 19 in China.  Both are postmarked May 24, 1906 in San Francisco, five weeks after the quake.

I have put the entire collection into a Flicker album.  Please enjoy responsibly.


Sat Nov 22, 2014 at 05:45 PM PST

WSJ Reviewed my book today

by RepackRider

My book on my two decades of bicycling adventure was released last month.

Today the Wall Street Journal reviewed it, and loved it.

Big day for me.  Not that I was a fan of the WSJ, bought my first ever copy today, but if the object is to sell books, it doesn't hurt to see it there.

A friend who is a Hollywood set decorator was chosen to decorate the White House for a Halloween party.  He took a copy with him, and he says the Presidential Gift Aide, after filing it with the gift registry, left it on a table in the library instead of putting it in storage.

Here are some other reviews.

Dirt Rag

US Cycling Report



Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 01:08 PM PDT

My Book is Finished!

by RepackRider

Beginning in 1968 I was a roadie for the Sons of Champlin, a San Francisco band.  I worked on shows with the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Santana, The Byrds, Steve Miller Band, Credence, Sly and the Family Stone, Merle Haggard, Canned Heat, Doobie Brothers, Three Dog Night, Fleetwood Mac, The Tubes, Linda Ronstadt, Ten Years After, Donovan, Average White Band, Albert King, Hot Tuna, Chaka Khan, Flatt and Scruggs, Chambers Brothers, Chuck Berry, Eagles, Huey Lewis and the News, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Bo Diddly, Taj Mahal, Paul Butterfield, Jethro Tull, Van Morrison, Buddy Guy, Dave Mason, Joe Cocker, Ike and Tina Turner, Everly Brothers, Boz Scaggs, The Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker Band, Kingfish, John Mayall, Tower of Power, Leon Russell, Journey, just to name a few you have heard of.

I've smoked a joint with Jerry Garcia, met Janis Joplin when she was only wearing panties, been mountain biking with Bobby Weir.  I never had a drug habit, I was never drunk, I never went to jail, and in decades of service I never missed a show.  Okay, except for that night Bill Graham threw me out of the Fillmore...

But I digress.  Five years ago I sat down to write a book about the things I saw and did.  It has been a long process, but it will hit the shelves on September 17.

The people I met, the places I went and the shows I saw make mine one of the best rock and roll adventures anyone ever had.

But that's not what the book is about.

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Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 07:06 PM PDT

About that apology, Mr. Issa...

by RepackRider

The latest congressional "investigation" has cleared the Obama administration of any wrongdoing in the Benghazi attack.  The investigation by the House Intel Committee was not conducted by Darrell Issa's Oversight Committee, so he had nothing to do with the conclusions.


It was a thorough acquittal by a Republican led committee.  Mr. Issa has no one to accuse of a conspiracy against him.

So I called Mr. Issa's DC office today and asked about the apology.  Two solid years of accusations of everything up to treason have helped to poison the political atmosphere, and now we know, officially, that these accusations were untrue.  So far he has made no statement in response to the latest finding.

I don't post phone numbers, but it's pretty easy to get the one for Issa's DC office (scroll to bottom).  When you get the recorded message, hit 4 and you get a staffer.  If you live in his district, call the local office, and say...

"Now that we know there was no wrongdoing at Benghazi, how will Mr. Issa apologize to those he accused and to the American people, for slandering public officials and for wasting so much time and money in the investigation?"

It only takes a minute, and it really feels good to say.  I'm only one person.  He needs to hear from you also.  If you read this far, thanks.


Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 11:09 AM PDT

Two good questions

by RepackRider

IANAL, although my criminal defense attorney friend couldn't believe that I successfully argued my case in traffic court, which he called "the most rigged tribunal in the world."

Yesterday the Republican members of Congress voted to sue President Obama over the delay in implementation of the ACA.

As a non-lawyer, two obvious questions came to mind.  First, since members of Congress have their own health care package independent of the ACA, how was Congress harmed by the delay?  IOW, what is their "standing" for the lawsuit?  Second, what does the lawsuit seek to accomplish?

As a non-lawyer I am likely wrong, but it is my understanding that a lawsuit revolves around two basic questions, i.e. how were you harmed and what do you want for it?

Since I am ably represented by one of the most liberal Democrats in Congress, I directed these questions to Republicans.  I started with the Judiciary Committee itself.  The staffer there could not explain either the standing of Congress, or the desired results.  Since the entire plan originated with this committee, their lack of preparation is astounding.  Did they think no one would ever ask them about this?

I transferred my attention to Republican members of the California delegation who voted in favor of the bill.  I went through half a dozen, and not a single staffer could answer the questions.  Some even agreed that they were good ones.

Any Kossacks who live in a red district should take up the challenge. Ask your representative these questions every day until answers appear.  When that happens, please post them here.


Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 04:19 PM PDT

How to deal with Sterling

by RepackRider

Since Mr. Sterling is being forced to divest himself of the Clippers, the NBA is in effect forcing him to cash in the equity of hundreds of millions of dollars that the team has accumulated in the years since he purchased it.  The poor baby will then have to pay that dreaded 15% Capital Gains Tax instead of what you and I pay on our paltry earnings.  

This "punishment" makes him enough money to make Uncle Scrooge jealous.  The problem is this: how do you punish a guy with so much money that no amount of fines can hurt him?  Keep him from going to games?  Is that all?

Here is my suggestion.  The NBA should remove that profit from the transaction.  He should have to sell the team back to the NBA at the price he paid, and the NBA will then sell it at market value to Magic Johnson or whomever, and donate the difference to a worthy charity.  The NBA would come out smelling like, well if not like a rose, less like a locker room.

The difference of hundreds of millions of dollars will definitely hurt Sterling.

Just my idea.  It would never work.  Too simple.


Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 01:53 PM PDT

Calling Dean Heller, Patriot

by RepackRider

Most Kossacks are aware that Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller differed with Senator Reid on the patriotism of Cliven Bundy and his associates.  "What Sen. Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots," he said.

Now of course, Senator Heller is trying to not have said that.

I consider myself a patriot.  I'm a US Army vet (Honorable, E-5), never been arrested or charged with even a misdemeanor, never took a gummint check other than my Army pay, I vote in every election, I recite the Pledge of Allegiance and I stand up when they play the National Anthem.

If Cliven Bundy is a patriot, then I must be Benedict Arnold, because we share exactly ZERO common views.  So I called Mr. Heller's offices.  All of them, DC, Reno, Las Vegas.  I get free long distance on my cell phone, and I use it.

Join me on the other side, if you care to.

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Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 04:22 PM PDT

Mike Finnegan

by RepackRider

In my previous life I was a roadie for a '60s San Francisco rock band called The Sons of Champlin.  In connection with that gig I met a musician named Mike Finnegan.

In 1971 I was the sound guy at a sleazy, drug infested dive of a night club called The Lion's Share, in San Anselmo, California.  Dive though it was, I did sound there for established musicians, including Van Morrison, who then lived about a mile away, Boz Scaggs, Elvin Bishop, Tower of Power, and of course, The Sons of Champlin.

On Sunday nights the house band took over, the Nuboogaloo Express, whose members were not always the same from week to week.  The Express was mostly an excuse for some of the local musicians to jam, and sometimes one was out of town and someone else took the spot.  This band usually featured Big Brother drummer David Getz and Sons' guitarist Terry Haggerty, and on Hammond B-3 and vocals it was either Sons' frontman Bill Champlin, or Mike Finnegan, who played in at least three different ensembles while he lived in my area, The Serfs, The Jerry Hahn Brotherhood, and Finnegan and Woods.

Let me be clear.  I know a lot of musicians, and Mike Finnegan is a monster in every sense of the word.  Allow me to elaborate on the other side of the steaming pile.

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Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 10:10 AM PDT

The Deputy Shot My Friend

by RepackRider

I move pianos, and everyone who works for me is Black.  I spend a lot of time in what is historically a Black community, although the de facto segregation of the past has faded.  The Community is a tough place, people have police records, some have done time, but I have never had a problem with anyone other than the deputies, who wanted to know why a tough-looking white guy was hanging out there with tough looking Black men.

I'm 68 years old, white and middle class, and I have never been arrested, have no police record and no warrants.  I routinely refuse to identify myself when an officer is not entitled to that information, which has already been the source of a rec list diary.  In the Black community that invites trouble from police.  I stand my ground.

Last year a deputy shot one of my friends from The Community.

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In the fall of 1979 my friend Gary Fisher and I rented a garage, where we assembled custom bikes of a sort not previously seen.  The frames were built by a master framebuilder, 22-year old Tom Ritchey, to the high standards of an Italian road racing machine but not for that use.  These bikes bristled with heavy duty tires and oversize brakes for our newly invented sport of downhill time-trial racing on a steep, rutted fire road called Repack that dropped 1300 feet in less than two miles.  There was nothing on the market built for what we wanted to do on bikes, so we made our own.

Gary Fisher and I called our company "MountainBikes" and we changed the world  Every off-road bike made before about 1984 was a knock off of our design.  Our company name became generic also.

And then the business failed, but hey, what a ride.

Not many people have seen their goofy hobby take over the world like ours did, or get to influence the subject of their passion to this extent.  Our crazy downhill idea is now a world championship discipline, with a rainbow jersey for the champion just like the world road or track champion's jersey.

I had one of the best bicycle adventures...ever.  Ever.

Along the way I published the first mountain bike magazine, the Fat Tire Flyer, which created a written and graphic record of my adventures that I have drawn on heavily for my book, also called "Fat Tire Flyer."  It is six months away from publication, but today Amazon listed it.   Not something that happens to me every day, certainly worthy of an entry in my Diary.

Thanks for reading this far.  Did you notice at the Amazon link that you can (ahem) pre-order right now?  

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