#50 Gary Fisher

No not Bobby Fisher.  Gary Fisher.  If you were wondering, I will probably not be adding a story about chess to this collection.  You can relax.

Gary Fisher was born in 1950; he is now 70 years old.

And if you are a mountain bike rider, you probably recognize the name; known by some as the mother of the invention. 

Gary grew up in Marin County, and got the mountain bike off the ground by tinkering and teaming up with a few other like-minded bike riders and quasi-innovators. 

I don’t think I have yet owned a true mountain bike.  The really good ones run well over a few thousand dollars, and having never been much of a scientist, I have never had much interest in how it works, just that it works when I want it to.  My thinking is if you are investing more than $750 in a bicycle, you better know how to fix the thing.  I have never quite had the time to spend on that part of the sport.

So I have been happy with my low-budget bike investments, knowing that if the bike breaks from lack of maintenance or knowledge, that I just toss it off the cliff and start over.  Having had two bikes stolen out of my own garage has at least educated me to the idea of locking up anything that can easily be rolled away.  I do understand locks, and their practical applications.

Woops…..right, Gary Fisher.  So Gary Fisher now lives somewhere close to Haight Street, not far from Lisa’s place in San Francisco.  His life since his first mountain-bike building and riding days in the late 1970’s has led him away from the hills of Marin for the most part.  His fame and his fortune have been somewhat of a roller-coaster, probably similar to how most idea-people struggle with the path forward in leading a new sport through infancy.  His friendships and relationships have struggled to avoid controversy, with only limited success.  Prior to this writing, I had never googled a photo of Gary Fisher.  His picture is both a surprise and a confirmation of who he is and how his story makes sense.

Back around 1988 or 1989, after moving to Carmel Valley, the-then edge of rural San Diego, I rediscovered bike riding.  I can’t remember how or why that happened, but my first bike and most of my first few years of riding were what I called off-road, on the dirt roads and undeveloped trails above what was later to become Highway 56.  This was not truly mountain biking, but it wasn’t road biking either; maybe more escape-biking, being able to ride for an hour or hours around those hills, rarely seeing a car or another soul, and even rarely seeing another bike.  The ability to get away on my quasi-mountain bike made me appreciate the fact that somebody had come up with the idea to get the bike off the street to begin with.

When I read about Gary Fisher, I think maybe we have some similarities.  Sure, Gary was a tinkerer, but not a scientist.  SSOMG got back into cycling for fun and escape and fresh air and the illusion it was healthier than most other diversions.  I think Gary got into biking for the same reasons, plus the obvious economic advantage of being in the right place at the right time with the right idea and the right friends…

Whatever the case, SSOMG takes its helmet off to Gary for his “invention” and his luck and ability to bring mountain biking to off-road riders worldwide over the last 40 years.

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