The Mountain Bike Legacy Project
The Mountain Bike Legacy Project
For nearly 40 years, mountain bike pioneer Charlie Kelly has preserved one of mountain biking's best kept secrets...
For nearly 40 years, mountain bike pioneer Charlie Kelly has preserved one of mountain biking's best kept secrets... Read more
From the mid 1970's through 1992, Charlie Kelly saved everything he could find relating to the sport of mountain biking. His well-preserved archive includes historic documents from the earliest years and is especially weighted towards the 1980's, when mountain biking’s popularity exploded.The trove includes U.S magazines, international magazines, race results, product brochures, newspaper articles, club newsletters, images, original artwork, and much more. It is the most complete collection of early mountain bike media in the world.
The Mountain Bike Legacy Project aims to digitize Charlie's stash -- hundreds of thousands of historic documents -- and build a website capable of hosting and delivering them to the world. The resulting archive will be an indispensable tool for any historian or mountain biking enthusiast to explore and discover the depths of the sport’s history. The long-term goal is a growing database of material, where contributors around the globe can submit mountain biking content from ANY time period, and preserve the history of the sport. As Charlie puts it, "This should eventually become the Library of Alexandria for everything related to mountain biking."
ABOUT CHARLIE'S COLLECTION:
At this time, Charlie’s expansive collection is densely packed into a 10ft. x 10ft. storage unit, a literal treasure trove of early mountain biking history. All of it is yet un-linked to digital technologies and the Internet, and only a tiny percentage of the media is currently saved online.
Here's a scope of the types of items in Charlie's archive:
- Product catalogues from bike and component companies
- Newsletters from MTB clubs
- Collected articles about mountain biking
- Early race results
- Issues of nearly every MTB Magazine published in the US (up to roughly 1992)
- Issues of nearly every MTB Magazine published in OTHER COUNTRIES! (in their original language)
- Every Issue of the Fat Tire Flyer (the world's very first MTB Publication)
- Photographic collections
- Race and product posters
- Original artwork
- Unpublished articles and essays
- Collections donated by Joe Breeze, Gary Fisher, and other MTB pioneers
Many of the documents and photos represent the only surviving copy known to exist. It is truly remarkable to have all these materials still contained in one place, by one person. And we have an opportunity to make it digitally accessible for future generations!
------- VIEW SAMPLES on our temporary WEBSITE:
To digitally preserve the written and photographic history of mountain biking from years gone by, develop online access for this trove of printed media, and create a system to capture & preserve MTB media going forward into the future.
NO SMALL TASK:
The storage unit contains hundreds of thousands of documents, most of which are bound in some way. There will be months of work and expenses just to rent space and scan the documents with their corresponding metadata and word search capability. But this project is more than just scanning papers. The MTB Legacy Project will create a text-searchable archive, sortable by type of content, provenance, date, topic, and more. A website with search abilities and back end servers will be needed to host & access the massive database of documents. Simply put, it will require a lot of time and money.
GOALS OF THE MOUNTAIN BIKE LEGACY PROJECT:
Web-hosted access of the archive, free to the public. It should be a place for research, exploration, and inspiration. Users can step back in time and unearth fascinating and otherwise unavailable information, whether they’re restoring a classic bike, looking to relive early MTB memories, or just eager to learn about the past. The site will also serve as a "Living Archive," a place where additional material can be added by interested contributors in order to fill out more history of mountain biking and expand the collection to present times.
The archive’s easily-discoverable treasures will allow users to gain new perspectives on mountain biking -- past, present, and future.
THE LONG TERM GOAL:
Beyond the scope of this Kickstarter Project, we'd like to see this Archive evolve into a virtual Library of Alexandria of Mountain Bicycling- potentially all of bicycling. Imagine all of the world’s knowledge of bicycling in one place, accessible to anyone eager to search its collections. Again, this long term goal is beyond the scope and budget of this Kickstarter Project, but it is Charlie's eventual dream. And his archive is a great starting point!
A CALL OUT TO ALL MOUNTAIN BIKERS:
Take a moment to think about how much you've spent on your bikes, your gear, trips to Moab, energy bars and post-ride beers. I bet it's a lot. We ask that you donate $20, $50, or even $100 or more dollars to this preservation project. If you're like me, even $50 is a small fraction of what I'll spend on mountain biking just this year (heck, a new helmet is more than $50!). If you're tight on money, we get that. Even a $5 pledge helps to preserve history.
More to read below... for now, here's the 3 mountain bikers behind this Kickstarter:
Charlie, Tommy and myself, Rob K, are not taking any payment from the Kickstarter campaign. It's sweat equity and a labor of love.
Risks and challenges
Our biggest challenge is MONEY. We chose 50 grand for this Kickstarter campaign, but that is the slimmest of budgets and we'll need to pull every favor possible to make this a reality. Realistically, we may need many times that to complete this project. Why? We need to rent a space and likely hire people to scan documents and create metadata, along with purchasing computers & scanners. These costs will balloon as more and more media is added to the archive. There are initial legal and business fees, and then there's the website, server space, and monthly hosting of the material. We may also need legal agreements with old mountain bike publications to use scanned versions of their mags in this archive.
It's a lot to accomplish on 50k and we might not get the entire project finished. But when we launch the website & database, we will be well on our way to digitizing the entire collection and can then seek other funding sources.
THE RISK of "not" doing this... well, that's simple. It is the risk of losing this irreplaceable history from the early days of our sport. The risk that this treasure trove of historic content ends up still-unseen or even in a landfill after its curator, Charlie Kelly, is no longer with us to keep it safe.
Charlie wants to leave this archive to future mountain bikers as part of his legacy. Hence the name: MTB Legacy Project. It is our job and passion to help make this project a reality for Charlie, and for the world.
Thanks for reading, and please join us in this effort by making a contribution.
- Rob Korotky (Rob K)
- (60 days)