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Cycle Publishing LLC
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1282 7th Avenue
San Francisco
CA 94122, USA


Tel.: (415) 665-8214
Fax: (415) 753-8572
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The Birth of Dirt

Origins of Mountain Biking
by Frank J. Berto

Format: 6 x 9 inch trade paperback
Description: 144 pages with 70 color and duotone photographs and other illustrations
ISBN: 978-1-892495-61-7
Price: US$18.95
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Living history, if ever it was written: Author Frank Berto, himself a resident of Marin County, California, where the mountain bike was born, interviewed all the men and women who stood at the cradle of the greatest thing since sliced bread: the mountain bike.

Fascinating reading, even for those whose interest in the mountain bike is limited to riding one. And the book serves future historians of the bicycle by presenting the facts before they get perverted by the self-serving urban legends put out by those who merely wanted to capitalize on the product.

This much expanded and updated new edition contains many more color illustrations and an expanded and updated text.
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NOTE: Please do not be deceived by "Internet bargains" offered elsewhere, because those are invariably of the earlier, outdated edition. We only supply the current, expanded, updated, full-color edition (January 2009)


About the book

Relive the birth of a sport and the invention of a machine. In this fascinating book, Frank Berto, former engineering editor of Bicycling magazine, leaves no stone unturned in his quest for the truth about the beginnings of mountain biking and the invention of the mountain bike.

Illustrated with period documents and vivid photographs by two of the early pioneers themselves (including Wende Cragg and Erik Koski), this book should put an end to the question of who invented the mountain bike. At the same time, it will let you experience the pioneering days of the sport for yourself.


About the author

Frank Berto was engineering editor for Bicycling magazine during the ten-year period coinciding with the rise of mountain biking. Intrigued by the question, "Who invented the mountain bike," he set out to trace the roots of mountain biking for this book by interviewing the men and women involved since the early days.

His earlier book Bicycling Magazinefs Complete Guide to Upgrading Your Bike was published by Rodale Press. He is also the author of The Dancing Chain: History and Development of the Derailleur Bicycle, which is due to be published in its second, updated and expanded edition October 2004. He lives in Marin County, California.


Table of Contents
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Part I. Who Invented the Mountain Bike?
1. Introduction
2. Cast of Characters
3. Definitions
4. Criteria for Mountain Bike Invention
5. The Chronological Story
6. Predecessors That Werenft Mountain Bikes
7. Origin of the Name "Mountain Bike"
8. Looking at Figures
9. Summing Up
10. So Who Did Invent the Mountain Bike?
11. Lessons for Cycle Historians
Part II. Response and Reply
12. Response from Gary Fisher
13. Bertofs Reply
14. Response from Joe Breeze
15. Bertofs Reply

Part III. Reliving the Beginnings of Mountain Biking
16. Repack Revisited
17. Repack Reunion (by Charles Kelly)

Part IV. Back Matter: Backing Up the Story
Bibliography and List of References
Index

What the Critics Say

With The Birth of Dirt, Frank Berto tackles a contentious subject: Who really invented the gMountain Bikeh? Berto points out that riding bicycles off the beaten path hardly is a new pastime. However, Berto points out that these riders did not market their ideas, and so their efforts did not ignite a mountain bike movement. Bertofs focus is specific: The mountain bike, by definition, was invented in Marin Country, California, The movement centered around the Repack Downhill races started the mountain bike craze that swept across the planet.

Of course, this means that the mountain bike was a cultural, rather than a technical, invention, The tech­nical solutions of the Marin pioneers were not without precedent, but their marketing of wide-tired, multi-geared bicycles as a means to ride across technical terrain was ground-breaking. Therefore, one might conclude that the inventor of the mountain bike was the person who created the term gMountain Bike;f or perhaps those who first marketed gMountain Bikesh to a wider audience.

Berto instead examines the merits of various Marin County pioneersf claims to have been the first to equip old balloon-tire gclunkersh with derailleurs.

When his first edition came out 10 years ago, Bertofs insistence on the gWhodunnith detracted from the fascinating story of how the mountain bike movement germinated from a handful of small builders to span the globe in a few short years. The second edition addresses these concerns and describes the development of the mountain bike as the collaborative ef­fort that it really was.

The facts often are murky, because the protagonists werenft historians, and many had and have commercial interests in the claim to have invented the mountain bike. For example, Gary Fisher paraded a bike that he claimed was the first mountain bike, but it was easy for Frank Berto to show that many of the components were not yet available when the bike supposedly was built. Gary Fisher admitted that it was a replica loosely based on the long-lost original, which leaves open the question whether the original bike really was a gfirst.h Joe Breeze says that Gary might have had derailleurs on his bike at the claimed date. The Birth of Dirt includes letters from several key players, in which they explain their version of the events.

Berto deserves credit for being the first author who has tried to research these often conflicting claims. In the process, the reader learns much about the founders of the mountain bike movement and how they went about modifying their bikes. Berto livens up the history with anecdotes, and the result is a very readable book. Berto talked to most of the players involved, and obtained a wealth of color photos that alone make the book well worth its cover price.

Jan Heine in Bicycle Quarterly, Spring 2009

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From the contents

Joe Breeze's design sketch for the first purpose-built mountain bike.


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Charlie Kelly coming down Repack in 1976


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One of Alan Bonds' pre-mountain bikes of the mid-1970s