3: Just After The Beginning
The first couple years, Ibis was located up in Mendocino California, the shop was just outside of an area called the Pygmy Forest. The first buyers were generally locals. There was a lot of great singletrack riding up in the forests around Mendocino, and it’s actually stayed fairly quiet to this day, although there are tons of new trails being built.
Here’s a fun picture from back in the day (BITD) of the first annual Tour de Pygmy. When this gathering first happened, there was probably something like 5 Ibis bikes built to date. In fact, Scot is in there (4th from right) and he wasn’t even on one of his bikes yet, looks like his old Excelsior he’s holding.
Most notable about this picture is probably the fact that Charlie Cunningham is making an extremely rare appearance outside of Marin County. That’s him on the far left with the drop bar bike. And next to him is is future wife, somone you may have heard of named Jacquie Phelan. Jacquie wrote a nice letter to us upon hearing of our 30th, which means she's nearing that amount of time hanging out with the Chuck-Lo-Rama as our Chuck likes to call him. Here's her note:
Charlie and my first real date was the trip we took up to Mendo when Scot Nicol and Ginny Allen were living up there, creating Ibis. This was in 1983.
I looked forward to a nice long uninterrupted period of time with my new lover, the quiet & composed engineer Charlie McTuberator.
Mr McTuberator (or the Chuckling One as he used to be called by Steve Potts) tended to like to stay busy in his shop,
But for a few days we stayed busy talking, being quiet, and meeting the wild man who'd beaten me at my first mtn bike race, the 81 Whiskeytown in Redding.
Scot was in his heavy facial hair period, and spoke like a kid from UC Davis soil program.
Ginny, his wife was the quiet, peaceful Charlie to my insane Scot Nicol.
In other words, we were sort of the reverse role couple.
This led to the realization that you need to have one Rock and one Wild Thing, and that if I had stayed with any of my earlier attempts at matehood, I'd have probably not remained together long.
Ginny designed the ibis bird in a tall oval, the graceful logo that spoke of the connection of bicycles to nature, and the implied efficiency of terrestrial flight on the pretty blue-and-purple steel machines Scot made in his uber tidy shop across the yard from the little house they lived in with a cat named Rampage.
I remember reading a volume of impressively raunchy poetry, eating really good meals, and trading stories about eco-topics--since I wasn't very fond of talking bike stuff... back then I think.
I couldn't have distinguished between the chainstay and the seatstay, and I hated the endless gab that ensued when a couple of bikers got together. Even riders with no experience in design or fabrication put out their opinions (my least favorite: "Steel is real") based on precisely which straw they'd drawn when they'd bought that first bike.
So I had a great time enjoying the mutual respect of the two Ibisians up in Mendo, and the hilarious wit Scot shared with me (Charlie has it too, but keeps it under cover).
Happy 30th anniversary, Ibis...
We unearthed a shot of the very first Ibis shop. It was also a greenhouse, which heated the shop. Damn hippies and their crazy ideas!
Here's the T-shirt from the 1981 Whiskeytown Downhill. Still no holes in it. By the way the graphic on there is from a picture that Dean Bradley shot of Monte Ward, who is number 17 in the picture below.
PEARL PASS AND EARLY 29ERS
The event we really looked forward to in the early days was the annual tour over Pearl Pass, which is between Crested Butte and Aspen, high in the Colorado Rockies. This was mentioned in part 1 before the beginning. Here's a shot from one of the early years, maybe 82?
We think the pic above might have been the one that was behind Scot's (AKA Chuck) wife's strict 'no facial hair' rule. He's been clean shaven for a couple decades now.
Now we have a special interlude for you. Two videos from the 1980 Pearl Pass Tour. In the first seconds of the first video, that dirty hippie juggling is our founder, Scot.
And now, more dirty stinking hippies!
Here’s a great picture of the finish of the 1980 Pearl Pass Tour, in front of the Jerome Hotel in Aspen.
We’ve consulted with our friends who still remember a thing or two from back in the day, and have managed to identify (we think) 33 of the 53 people in this picture. One of the amazing things about this picture is that Charlie Cunningham, once again is spotted outside of Marin County. We think he’s only left Marin a couple of times in the last three decades, and we seem to have captured both of them! Ok, maybe we exaggerate a bit, but we are quite proud of the fact that we got to see Chuck-Lo-Rama outside his beloved native turf. Use the key below to see where Charlie is, he’s number 35. Next to him is future (now former) partner in WTB Mark Slate (#36). Next to Mark is Don Koski, of Trailmaster and Cove Bike Shop fame.
The list to the best of our knowledge is below. Number two right down in front is our founder Scot Nicol. To Scot’s left (#3) is Joe Breeze.
Perhaps most notable of all this, look at the bike in front of Scot and Joe. THIS IS THE WORLD’S EARLIEST SIGHTING OF A 29ER. Ok, maybe it’s only a 28er. But it does have big wheels, bigger than 26”.
Think you know someone who’s not on the list? Or did we get one wrong? Send an email to us!
2. Scot Nicol
3. Joe Breeze
5. Ted Romanik
6. Suzan Wilderson
7. Peppermint Patty
9. Steve Potts
10. Carol Bauer (RIP)
11. Amy Slate
14. Jeff Vickers
15. Blaine Davis
16. Mike Rust (RIP)
17. Monte Ward
18. Kevin Montgomery
20. Eric Stacey
21. Dave Jefferies
22. Steve Cook
24. Andy Bleecher
26. Ralph Morrow
29. Adlai Karim
30. Chris (Crispy) Carol
31. Tracy Smith
35. Charlie Cunningham
36. Mark Slate
37. Don Koski
39. Matt Hebbard?
40. Don Cook
41. Ken Beach
42. Ginny Allen
44. Dave Sigmon
45. Margaret Day
46. Jeff Day
47. thru 53. ???????
AND FINALLY, a note from our friend Don Cook
Our friend Don Cook, noting our 30th, sent us this note from Crested Butte. Don runs the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and Museum with his wife Kay. They work real hard to chronicle this history that we're talking about this month, and if you're ever anywhere near Crested Butte, definitely go by and visit the Museum.
I’m proud to say that I am a colleague and a friend of Scot’s. We met in September of 1980 on the 5th Annual Pear Pass Tour. No one will ever admit that we use to race back then, so here was Scot and I “touring like hell” down the Aspen side of Pearl on our klunkers- taking turns at being the lead tour-er and introducing ourselves at about 33 miles an hour. Oh we had suspension all right, both our front and rear tires were 2.125’s - as big as they got back then. It was remarkable that we were going those speeds and even more remarkable that we didn’t wear head protection (look at those Pearl Pass videos in part three for evidence).
We thought we were pretty hot until Charlie Cunningham passed us on this freak of nature aluminum 6-speed bike with drop bars he was riding. Then (and only then) did it appear that we might be racing. Scot looked at me and I looked back at him like, what the f was that? There ain’t no drop bar goof ball gunna beat us, no sir, so we started touring twice as hard as previously and before we knew it there were three of us touring like hell down Pearl Pass.
That is how we all met and that it was what we have continued to do to this day. I didn’t know if I would ever see these fast guys again but the following spring I was lucky enough to run into Charlie Cunningham down at the new “Mountain Bikes” shop, owned and operated by Gary Fisher and Charlie Kelly. After a few rides and a few meals
I got a gig making parts for him in exchange for a new “goof ball aluminum frame w/drop bars” and one day in late April Scot Nicol stopped by to ask Charlie some technical questions about jigs and frame alignment. Turns out Scot had talked himself into starting a bicycle manufacturing company he called “Ibis” and he has been either making them himself or seeing to the production of his brand ever since.
I witnessed the first year in the new shop he built in Mendocino, a solar heated greenhouse and one room shop. I couldn’t believe when Scot designed and built his own home and shop for the next big move to Sebastopol. Always ahead of the crowd, is Ibis.
Long before trials riding came to the mountain scene we were taking lessons from Nicol on how to jump into the back of a pick up bed, do a couple rotating bunny hops and jump back out without putting a foot down. Ibis made a bike for that. Before tig welding was accepted for boutique builders, Ibis was welding like that. Oversized aluminum was in vogue but Ibis chose to go with oversized chrome moly and they had great success with that.
Before cyclocross was popular here, Ibis made a steel one named “Hakkalugi”. Titanium was being used for frames but Ibis exploited it even further with the Silk Ti and the Bow Ti. Never content to settle Ibis quickly moved into the carbon fiber world to create a full suspension bike using its most famous named bike, the Mojo.
So don’t get to comfortable with what yer ridin today. With all the great bikes that have come out of Ibis over the last 30 years, can you imagine what we might be riding next year? Congratulations Scot and Ibis, its been a hell of ride, literally.