Throwback Thursdays: The Rider and the Wolf Movie

24 October, 2013

Not to be confused with Disney's Lady and the Tramp, The Rider & the Wolf is a movie about Mike Rust, a Hall-of-Fame mountain biker who disappeared without a trace.  It is a historical movie that looks awesome based on the trailer (see link below.)  Yes, I really did just say that, an awesome historical movie.  Does that make me old?  It must.  Do I pull over on the highway to investigate a historical marker?  No, but it's awfully tempting because they're free and I'm cheap.  Am I grouchy these days?  Yes, but I think I always have been.  Do I enjoy frozen entrees and NBA blooper reruns on TV?  No TV but I sure can't get enough Stouffer's Mac 'n Cheese.  Do I understand the music of today?  Nope, but I don't think those making it do either.  So am I old?  Probably.

I think both the youth and the fanny pack forward - not backward, that's apparently "enduro" now, will like this movie.  It shows a lot of cool shots from Crested Butte around the 1980 time period - fanny pack forward folks, turn up your hearing aids now, while also recounting the mysterious and alarming disappearance of Mike Rust in the middle of the night in the oppressively desolate mountains southwest of Salida, CO - fanny pack backward youth, take the headphones out of your ear holes and listen up, this part's exciting - yes, yes, even to you. 

A few years ago, when I rode the Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango, we stopped in Salida to pick up supplies and get harassed by cops at the local Post Office.  Note to self: don't change into your clean chammies you mailed out to yourself behind the dumpster at a Post Office, it never works out well.  Somebody at Absolute Bikes told us the story of Mike Rust, shortly before we were to ride into the area where Mike Rust disappeared.  According to the story I heard, Mike Rust, a Mountain Bike Hall of Fame Inductee, moved from Salida to the mountains noticeably southwest of town in an area referred to as Saguache (a government employee in a green truck with dip in his mouth pronounced it sohhwwich while trying to help get an idea of what I was looking for while lost doing the Colorado Trail Race this past summer.)  This area is hot, dry - there's no water for you to drink when bikepacking, bummer, somehow there's mosquitoes aplenty still, and mangled, deranged trees tangle over a mess of hot, sharp, jumbled rocks.  The glorious vistas you previously had are obstructed by the Blair Witch-esque trees and even if you could see, it wouldn't matter because there really is nothing.  Nothing for miles.

Mike Rust moved here and the area is known for its UFO sightings and cattle rustlers - dudes, possibly chicks but most likely dudes, that steal cattle from people's ranches. The story I heard and the Denver Post story deviate a little bit.  I had heard that Mike Rust went out in the middle of the night with shotgun and vest aboard a moto bike after cattle rustlers and that only his bloodied vest, empty casings, and the bike were ever found.  The Post recounts that Mike Rust came home from grocery shopping to his remote, humble abode to find that his house had been broken into and his antique pistol relic, which had been his deceased brother's, was stolen.  Mike Rust then made a phone call, infuriated, to the friend he had grocery shopped with about the burglary.  Mike's bloodied vest was found, the broken hilt of the pistol near the vest, bloodied footprints around him, and then a month later, his moto bike with bloody foot pegs.  Mike's body was never found.

So how does this movie tie in to WTB?  Simple.  It focuses a lot on Crested Butte in 1980.  Fred Falk, who still works at WTB, traveled out to Crested Butte with Matt Hebberd, one of WTB's original employees who now owns and runs Rim Tours in Moab, UT, in Hebberd's VW Super Beetle.  Also driving out was Mark Horrowitz, part of the Marin mountain bike family of the time - they called themselves the 10% Club.  10% stood for the portion of people who having bought a mountain bike, then actually rode it as a mountain bike was intended - in the dirt.  Steve Potts and Charlie Cunningham were already out in Crested Butte.  Potts had recently finished his touring trip with Joe Breeze in New Zealand, a trip that cemented in his mind the need to pursue mountain bike frame manufacture, and Breeze had told him to check out Crested Butte, which he did.  Charlie Cunningham had his 24 pound mountain bike with him, a weight that is still impressive for a mountain bike even today.  Donnie Koski was out there, Otis Guy most likely already was (according to Fred's current recollection) out there and the Cove Bike Shop van had driven out with Fred and Matt Hebberd as well.  In the preview, there's a quick shot of Gary Fisher out there too.  So, WTB future employees (WTB was founded in 1982) and family / the 10% Club were out in Crested Butte, making it happen during part of the time period this movie focuses on.  Also of interest, Mike Rust made bikes in Salida that were sold at Colorado Cyclery that got awfully close to 29" bikes.  They had larger than normal front wheels and normal rear wheels to help rake them out over rough terrain and give them the moto look and stance.  Mike Rust and his partner, Don McClung called these bikes "shorties" and they tinkered with RockShox RS-1 forks, making them accommodate the 700c rim and 700c Smoke tire.  Don McClung still hand makes bikes in Salida, fun piece of trivia.

Enjoy the following trailer - it's historical and rad, yep, that's possible.

The Rider & The Wolf from Grit & Thistle Film Company on Vimeo.



Make sure to also go to:

and to find out more about this must see movie!



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