Marin Museum of Bicycling pedals history

A velocipede built around 1865, from the Ralph Igler collection.


I have to admit I’m a fan of history, so a visit to the Marin Museum of Bicycling had me from the get-go.

The museum opened four year ago in Fairfax, a town at the foot of Mt. Tamalpais in woodsy Marin County.

This location is sacred ground for the first mountain bike, and just about everyone involved in fostering the pastime and perfecting the bike technology still lives nearby.

Let’s start with Joe Breeze, museum curator, and his wife Connie. The other board members are Ojeda Bodington, Lena Maria Estrella, and Marc Vendetti. Breeze built the first “modern” mountain bike frame in 1977.

I’m not going to try to mention everyone involved with running the museum, because it’s a long list — all volunteers, including the board.

For details about what’s inside, I’ll refer you to their website and a YouTube video.

A curator is usually available to give a guided tour. The museum promotes the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and an extensive collection of historic and one-of-a-kind bikes, but not just mountain bikes.

Breeze, who happened to be on site, expressed pride in having some of Ralph Igler’s bike collection.

That brought back memories. I met Igler in 1988 when I had a bicycle column with the San Francisco Chronicle. He lived in Palo Alto.

He invited me to see his collection — dozens of bikes stored in his modest-sized ranch house. He had bikes in every room but the kitchen and bathrooms.

This wasn’t a hoarding situation, rather, well organized and neatly arranged artifacts with documented histories.

I wrote a column about Ralph’s passion, published in September 1988. Breeze hadn’t seen the article, so I sent him a copy.

Breeze revealed that the museum came about after he worked with the San Francisco International Airport to create a mountain bike history mural.

“The artwork you see here was donated after the display ended,” Breeze said. A few years later they opened the museum in a former grocery store in downtown Fairfax.

I saw that mountain bike history mural, located in the international terminal, while on a trip to the Philippines.

Next time you’re north of the Golden Gate Bridge, stop by and see the museum. It’s open Thursday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Mountain bike mural at SFO in 2012.

One Response to “Marin Museum of Bicycling pedals history”

  1. Franz Says:

    I just read your impressive 1985 and 1986 bike trips in the Alps. I was 18 years old then. I live in Stans, 13 km south of Lucerne and also love cycling in the mountains with my Ritchey Timberwolf. I am very impressed by Jobst Brandt. He had obviously a close friendship to my home country Switzerland. I love all the photos of this huge thin man doing this epic rides all around the Alps.
    Thank you very much for telling us this old stories. It helps accepting that I am not the only one who is growing older……

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