Sonora Pass when it was Dirt

John Finley Scott at the summit around 1959. Judging by all the gear, he must have camped out. He was about 25 years old in this photo. (Photo courtesy of Vance Sprock)

Sonora Pass summit ca. 1959. That’s John Finley Scott’s bike. Clearly, the summit is dirt.

Thanks to Vance Sprock, owner of Cupertino Bike Shop, we have photos of Sonora Pass before it was paved. Vance retains most of the late John Finley Scott’s personal photo collection.

I was surprised Sonora Pass wasn’t entirely paved until around 1960. I thought it was much earlier. My guess is the upper pass was the last section to be paved.

John was a colorful character who pioneered long-distance touring in the 1950s around the Bay Area and throughout the West. He didn’t ride a fancy bike, and it looks like he mostly camped, judging by photos.

The UC Davis sociology professor “invented” the modern mountain bike in 1953, using a Sturmey Archer geared hub, flat handlebars, cantilever brakes, and fat tires tacked on to a heavy around-town bike frame. He later bought Cupertino Bike Shop (1980-1989). John was murdered in 2006.

His creativity was recognized by induction to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.

I added this photo to my publication Adventure Rides in the High Sierra.

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One Response to “Sonora Pass when it was Dirt”

  1. Murali Says:

    What a pioneer. He was also in the mountain bike documentary “Klunkerz”.

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