A SoCal Pilgrimage to the Birthplace of Mountain Biking

The Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, which had previously been located in Crested Butte, Colorado, recently moved to the birthplace of mountain biking: Marin County, California. It was wonderfully combined with the Marin Museum of Mountain Biking and is now a tribute to the early bikers and people who helped advance the sport. It is located in the shadow of Mount Tamalpais, a steep mountain north of San Fransisco where early riders would race downhill on World War II era bikes, prompting them to engineer lighter, stronger bikes that could be pedaled uphill and taken on more versatile terrain. Before visiting the museum, my family did a ride near Mount Tam.


Last February the Anza Borrego Foundation hosted a movie and talk by another one of the founders of mountain biking, Charlie Kelly. He gave a talk on his involvement in mountain biking and then we watched the documentary Klunkerz. I also bought his coffee table book Fat Tire Flyer which is a very detailed account of the early mountain biking in Marin, filled with early photographs and illustrations.  So on our family’s summer road trip we squeezed in a drive to Fairfax, California to the newly opened museum and hall of fame to learn even more about my favorite sport’s lineage.

Ethan Outside Mt. Bke Musum

One big room with bikes brilliantly displayed everywhere, the collection has everything from a safety bike from 1890 to the 2014 Tour de France winner’s bike to world champion downhill race bikes. As for mountain bikes, it boasts some of the very first frames and prototypes built by Joe Breeze and Tom Ritchey.  Speaking of Joe Breeze, I was lucky enough to meet him and get a personal tour of the museum. Behind him is the bike he designed for Charlie Kelly: the Breezer!  Also, sitting just inside the front door in “employee bike parking” was another Breezer that Joe rode in to work that day!

Ethan & Joe Breeze Photo

Inside the museum there is plenty of seating to sit back and read the latest issue of Decline, a mountain bike magazine or other historic books.


The red and blue bikes are two of Charlie Kelly’s and Gary Fisher’s first mountain bikes they sold. The frames were designed by Tom Ritchey who now owns Ritchey Components.


A thoughtfully curated collection, this museum tells a story that is close to my heart: the birth of a sport that has been a huge part of my life.

3 thoughts on “A SoCal Pilgrimage to the Birthplace of Mountain Biking

  1. Wow I had no idea this existed! Thanks Ethan for introducing me to these museums and important people in the sport. I can hardly wait to see this in person next time I head North.


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