Singletrack Issue 121: Crested Butte 40 Years On

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Charlie Kelly and Joe Breeze retrace one of the most important rides in mountain bike history, 1978’s Pearl Pass tour.

Words & Photography Charlie Kelly

Tommy and joe Breeze. And a thirties Schwinn Excelsior

In 1978, a small group of early ‘mountain bikers’ rode over the 12,000ft Pearl Pass in Colorado. That event, and those riders, went on to permanently affect our nascent sport. Now, 40 years later, mountain bike pioneers Charlie Kelly, Joe Breeze and a handful of friends went up to re-enact it.

In 1978 I joined my Marin County friends Joe Breeze, Gary Fisher, Mike Castelli and Wende Cragg on an expedition to Colorado for the ride from Crested Butte to Aspen. We thought we would meet people just like us, but were shocked to find that it was just a bunch of folks with town bikes who had taken them over Pearl Pass on a one-time lark, and had no plans to do it again.

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