Each fall, during the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas, many of us are reminded that the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame exists, usually because we catch wind of the induction ceremony happening nearby. It's not that the Hall of Fame isn't important, it’s more just that for years it was located in what could pass for a walk-in closet in the relatively isolated town of Crested Butte, Colorado. For the most part, it just hasn’t been a big deal.
Originally established in the late 1980s by Carole Bauer-Romanik, in its early years the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and Museum bounced around between a variety of interesting locations. It once resided underneath a cantina, had a stint hidden away in storage in the mid-1990s and most recently resided inside the aforementioned Crested Butte venue.
Just over a year ago, the entirely volunteer-operated Mountain Bike Hall of Fame (HoF) relocated to accommodate the sport's ever-expanding worldwide influence. The new HoF is now part of the Marin Museum of Bicycling, founded by lifelong cycling advocates Joe Breeze, Otis Guy, Marc Vendetti, Julia Violich, Keith Hastings and Lena Estrella.
"We were opening the Marin Museum of Bicycling in 2015, which was also going to house the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame," explains legendary cyclist and Hall of Fame member and director Otis Guy. "We believed the International Mountain Bike Hall of Fame should be in the same location so people could experience it all in one venue."
With Marin county being mountain biking's birthplace, the new bicycling museum was a natural fit for the International Mountain Bike HoF. Additionally, the new, larger facility in downtown Fairfax is located in California's heavily populated Bay Area. "Joe Breeze, Marc Vendetti and I flew to Colorado and spent about 12 hours loading the the museum's contents into a moving truck. I then drove it all back 21 hours through the night to Northern California," said Guy.
"The previous location of the HoF achieved what they could in the amount of space they were provided,” he continued. “Crested Butte is a small town, and the chamber of commerce was nice enough to give them some territory in the Crested Butte History Museum, but it was probably 300 square feet or less, with a wall of inductees, a few classics bikes, and some memorabilia. Not only is the new MTB HoF about 40 miles north of San Francisco, which receives 11 million visitors a year, you can actually swing your arms if you wanted to because it has space! It's a well-lit, 3000-square-foot venue in a really cool building which was originally a supermarket in the 1950s. A lot of that era's architecture is still in place showcasing the unique Northern California style.”
As the International Mountain Bike Hall of Fame celebrates one year in its new home, the nomination process and induction ceremony are also receiving updates. After all, this is not a hall of stats or hall of gold medals; it's a hall of fame for those who are, well, famous. Therefore, higher standards are now in place to highlight members of the mountain bike community and industry who've gone above and beyond in their influence on the sport and culture.
In years past, someone could say they wanted to nominate their neighbor, dog walker, or whoever and that person would then be on the ballot. There were also specific categories for athletes, media, advocacy, and so on. Now, the path to nomination begins with a written story from supporters which outlines the potential nominee’s impact on the sport. That story is then read by HoF staff, who decide whether or not the person’s impact merits nomination.
"You're either worthy of the HoF designation or you're not," explained Guy. "Winning a world championship as a racer is an incredible feat, but that alone doesn't mean the person is destined for the HoF. When it comes to racers, we look for someone who's had a cultural impact on the sport, like Missy Giove. She has the racing accolades, but her personality and influence transcend race results and have left a long-lasting contribution to the sport. This is the Hall of Fame. It is exclusive, and it should be difficult to get into. Gone are the days of us having to acknowledge nominees who simply aren't Hall of Fame material because someone from ‘the mountaintop’ says the person should be inducted."
Although stricter guidelines are now in place for nominee selection, the voting process remains the same. Voters consist of paying members of the MTB HoF and the Marin Bicycling Museum, along with past inductees.
"The reality is, not all of the nominees will get inducted, but that doesn't mean they don't have incredible stories and contributions to the sport," Guy explained. "With our new facility and the space available to us, we'll be able to curate some of these great nominee stories to live elsewhere in the museum, despite them not actually being inducted into the HoF."
"This year's nominees are all there because their impacts are all really important in the history of the sport. It's really fun for me to look at all the submissions and really dig into these stories, many of whom I know, and am happy to see receive the deserved recognition."
The new MTB HoF facility will also now be hosting the induction ceremony. There will be a cocktail reception on Friday, September 30, followed on Saturday with a 'legends' ride and the induction ceremony that evening.
"We have a great space in a town that's wonderful to visit. We're can't wait to put it to use!" remarked Guy. "The HoF has taken the strides to become the living and ever-growing dynamic project we know it can be, and we're excited for people to come see our new venue.”
On Monday, August 1st, the Hall of Fame will announce which four of the below nominees will be inducted during the October 1st ceremony. Some need no introduction, but click here for bios of each nominee.
- Missy Giove
- Josh Bender
- Hank Barlow
- Jeff Archer
- Ken Clouber
- Matt Fritzinger
- Roman Urbina
- Wolfgang Renner