May 06, 2015 3 Comments
Jobst Brandt; the legendary rider, mentor, theorist, and engineer; died yesterday May 5, 2015. Many around the world and, particularly, on the San Francisco Mid-Peninsula are now reflecting on the incredible influence he had on us all, while living a cycling-centric life without compromise.
Ray Hosler, journalist formerly with the SF Chronicle, comes closest to anyone for sustaining a personal yet detached and lengthy relationship with Jobst. Here he offers us elegant and accurate retrospection. Thanks, Ray.
I worked under Jobst' influence for 25 years. Palo Alto was such a small place in the '70's and '80's. He was generous with his advice and disapproval through at least four channels.
First, two local bicycle businesses were each within a few blocks of his home and en route to his day job at HP. The Hoffacker brothers (Palo Alto Bike Shop and Avocet) developed many commercial projects with him, tires, cycle computers, etc. Wheelsmith (Jon and I) focused more on deciphering the tensioned wheel structure. We picked apart each others ideas to move our mutual understanding forward.
Second, he cultivated an extended group of like-minded riders who met on weekends for epic tours of the region and on Wednesday evenings for peanuts and tire patching.
Third, he was a relentless, fearless contributor to rec.bicycles.tech. Over the years, many of his exchanges form a bulwark of our general understanding of bicycle function and design.
Fourth, his master-work, The Bicycle Wheel, a careful, organized treatment of the tensioned wire wheel has no peer in the subject.
Ah, the remarkable world of '70's and '80's Palo Alto. The Midpeninsula, in that time, was closely related to SF. We shared one area code (415, SF and San Mateo County), and a remoteness from the rest of the Bay Area. This little world offered so much glorious riding and modest size to encourage exchange and friendships. The early computer industry benefited. So did cycling.
As years pass, it begins to resemble a wonderland. Ritchey, Avocet, Rockshox, Wheelsmith, Greg LeMond, much of the 7-11 Team. As seminal for mountain biking as Marin, progress moving south with Phil Wood, Blackburn, Specialized, Bontrager, Giro. A can-do spirit and backdrop of luscious mountains leading to the coast.
Hard to imagine it turning out as it did without Jobst. Immodest, principled, much missed.
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