Mountain bikes in a museum? Yes, and not just in Fairfax, home of the Marin Museum of Bicycling. The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH) has collaborated with its neighbor to the north to recount the history and burnish the legend.
"Any bike can be a mountain bike if you ride it in the mountains," said Whitney Ford-Terry, the exhibition's catalyst for "Trailblazers: The Creative Story Behind Mountain Biking in Santa Cruz." The exhibit explores how Santa Cruz became a major mountain biking destination and home to several big biking brands.
"People kind of cross-pollinated ideas, and a lot of folks from Santa Cruz learned from people who had picked up things there or who had come down to Santa Cruz to really test out what they were making on the very unique trail system we have here," Ford-Terry said.
Off-road riding has been with us as long as bicycles have, but in the late 1960s, a clutch of guys in Marin County modified old Schwinn bicycles they called “clunkers” to race down Mount Tamalpais. It didn’t take long before they started modifying the bikes with stiffer frames, wider tires, multiple gears and so on.
In classic MAH fashion, the exhibition is not so much a collection of historical objects as it is a collaboration with a host of local people and groups like Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz. So, for example, "Trailblazers" encourages visitors to think about getting involved in the community, in this case, by focusing on the importance of trail stewardship.