Tale #10: A Legend of the Sport Saves My Ride by Preston Peterson
Although I’ve been riding Tiger since before bikes were banned, this story is I think from the mid-90’s. I had a fancy bike called a Dagger (a boutique version of the Amp B3) which was pretty advanced for the day. 3” dual suspension and the first cable actuated, hydraulic internal Amp disc brakes. But one thing we didn’t quite have yet was wide spread adoption of tubeless tires. I was using old narrow rims never designed for tubeless and WTB tires, which even today seem to have a reputation for being a little bit finicky to fit up and “small” in diameter.
So I had been playing with going tubeless and found it to be an idiotic, extremely messy cluster fuzz. The tire was hard to mount, it made a big mess, and a lot of times I couldn’t get it to seal. I was also plagued with part of the tire bulging out of the rim. Conservative by nature, I have resisted all new innovations including suspension and 1* drivetrains over the years . Pretty much everything but disc brakes. For the record, I was 100% correct about bar ends and plus tires though.
So I take my fancy bike with its stupid tubeless tires out to Tiger (where else would I go ? I had given up on poaching Cougar Mt, and there were no trails at Exit 27). Wouldn’t you know the bulge blows out on the tire and creates a big hole in the sidewall and I’m at the bottom of Preston DOA. I tried to put a tube in (fighting the undersized WTB tire the whole way) but the tube kept popping due to the hole in the sidewall and a dollar bill wasn’t stiff enough to hold it up.
So I’m rolling on the rim, bump roll, bump, roll, bump roll on the fireroad back to NW Timber (cuz that’s all we had back then, and we liked it !) when a couple of riders come by. I know right away they’re not local because they are riding narrow tires and hardtail XC bikes and had semi-pro looking kit. Even back then most of us had moved on from hardtails, lycra, and XC dirt roadie bikes. They were super nice and immediately started helping out. In fact after awhile I was itching to just keep riding out on my flat tire but eventually the two of them had tied my old popped inner tube around the tire and rim to bandage the sidewall tear and got a tube inflated in there. Now, this whole time they are working with me on the rim I am bitching about tubeless, and how its stupid and doesn’t work and how the nice simple, straightforward method of using a tube in a tire is now being ditched in favor of this ridiculous messy piece of crap system.
I also noticed that the woman kept using her partner’s name, “Keith”, a little bit too ostentatiously.
So we all roll out, and since I’m on a wounded tire, they take off ahead. But this is my mountain so after a little while on NW Timber I pass the woman and then the man and make it back to the parking lot where we had a final chat.
Realize now that some of the brands you know of as just marketing names for major corporations were still the children of their creator at that time and whose reputation and livelihood were intertwined. Names that were legendary at the time as pioneers of development in the sport. Names like Tom Ritchey and Gary Fisher and Horst Leitner. So this person who'd been helping me and heard an earful of my oppobrium against the new fangled tubeless system, still owned and ran his company, and had JUST come out with a new line of tubeless tires to boot ! Well by then I had guessed his identity and I thanked them both again and wished him luck with the new products. And that’s the story of how I beat Keith Bontrager back to the parking lot after he fixed my blow out flat tire on Tiger Mt. But it was still several seasons before I got proper rims and tires and finally admitted the superiority of tubeless tires !