Rad People Who Ride: Cameron Falconer and Falconer Cycles
12 November, 2013
Photo Credit: John Daniel Reiss
Cam Falconer was a legend before he even had to shave. There are those that think that though they may be young, they're deeply rooted in the Marin mountain bike heritage. Then there are those that are old and are pretty sure they're steeped in what the boastful would refer to as the beginning of mountain biking. What do the two camps have in common? Neither is as part of mountain biking, nor cycling for that matter in Marin or the greater bay area as Cameron. At somewhere around age 20, he was competing in Downieville's Cruiser Cup alongside Fred Falk (who has been working at WTB since roughly 1985 where his original work station was a portion of Mark Slate's Mill Valley garage) where the demented and devoid of personal safety hurl themselves down Downieville's course aboard a single-speed, coaster brake adorned cruiser. Worry not, this class quickly died out, possibly literally, possibly in fear of imminent lawsuits. Cam's ridden everything on Mt. Tam, people always mistake him for an original Fairfax local (worry not, he's a Marin local,) he seems to somehow have competed and done well in every hard race that ever occurred in the greater bay area, he's everywhere at once yet nowhere to be found. The guy is shrouded in a legend cloak of mystery.
I heard about him at just about every local shop I visited while working as a sales rep. At some point in the conversation, inevitably, whomever I was talking to would pause, usually musing to himself quietly, then ask, "You know Cam Falconer, right?" This question almost always seemed to be accompanied by a wry smile, the shop employee was mentally recounting some funny, historic story of epic proportions. Only if I was wading, knee deep, in bike dork would this question surface. I'd have to be talking about subtleties of some sooweeet local trail, why some defunct components group was my favorite made - no doubt due to whatever I was doing or living at the time of its existence, or how original Bombers were available in lime green and metallic orange, or better yet, how short chain stays are the key to happiness. Geeked out to the max. Things I'm mighty ashamed of now looking back at the past run-on sentences. Only then would the inevitable question surface.
And then I met Cam. Finally. I saw a Ross Schafer-made, Rasta colored, Salsa stem hanging unassumingly on the wall at Fresh Air Bicycles in San Francisco and crowed with delight. Travis, the owner of Fresh Air, noticed my excitement from behind the counter and recounted that he had a J.P. Morgan suspension stem in the week before that he sold to some European tourist.
"He," Travis gestured into the air behind his back, "will no doubt think I sold it for not enough."
"How much?" A voice calmly asked.
"200," Travis said flatly.
"Was he excited?" The inquisition continued.
"He was smiling and seemed pretty giddy," Travis replied, bracing for scolding.
"You didn't sell it for enough," Travis was calmly instructed, "you could have gotten 5 to 600 on eBay for it."
"See." Travis smiled, seemingly satisfied with the disapproval he received. "I realized I could either have a shop, full of things in glass cases and not sell anything, or, I could sell shit and pay rent."
That pretty well summed up what it means to own and run a shop to me. So, did I fawn over Cam like some preteen or tween at a Justin Beiber concert before the Beib's life fell to rubble? No, though it was tempting. I mostly just marveled at how comfortable and at peace Cameron was with himself. Completely humble, completely knowledgable, completely patient. And yes, he kindly and methodically explained to me why I shouldn't be so hung up on chain stay lengths nor head tube angles.
It was educational, to put it lightly.
Cameron knows his stuff. He also knows how to make beautiful frames of any custom variety, with one perhaps not so minor stipulation, "No recumbents, no tandems." He was calmly adamant about this - I could tell how he said it that the statement was not open for discussion.
Anyone who wants a beautiful frame handmade with thought and care by someone who knows every nuance and can ride anything need not look further. Shoot Cameron an e-mail for a perfect frame: firstname.lastname@example.org
Name: Cameron Falconer
Home Shop and City: Falconer Cycles, SF ca
Favorite WTB or Freedom product:
Or, favorite WTB or Freedom related memory (please elaborate):
When the 2.4 Mutano Raptor came out I was living in Downieville working at Yuba, that tire was a game changer. It instantly became my favorite and remained so for many years. Fast forward almost ten years, 29 had taken over, I was a convert and the Mutano was a fond memory. Due to the generosity of a friend I found myself on a sweet 26 dually for the Downieville all mountain race and I reached for my old go to tire. I was rolling around town the Friday before the race and Fred Falk rolls up next to me on whatever the nifty proto tire of the moment was. He looked at my bike, saw that old Mutano tread, did a bit of a double take and said something like "you are still riding those things?!?". I loved that tire..... make a 29 version!
Favorite Ride: Oakridge Oregon, any and all of it, semi unknown gem of a destination. Go there.
Background, how’d you get into riding, what kept you going with it?
I needed a new bike when I was twelve and for reasons unknown to me bikes suddenly seemed like the coolest thing ever. I haven't looked back. Riding is how I have met the best people in my life and it keeps me sane.
You're hosed. Whoever said 'cross isn't fun, is, well, a liar. Photo Credit: Nick Nesbitt
Tube or Tubeless, why?
Tubeless, tubes are for floating down rivers on and road bikes, haven't jumped into road tubeless yet, not enough tire selection. Why? Traction, traction,traction.
3 most important things to bring with you on a ride?
Correct attitude, food, tools
Craziest thing you’ve seen or witnessed on a ride?
A mountain lion on Nacimiento-Ferguson road in Big Sur. Thing jumped straight up a ten foot road cut, one of those moments where you realize you aren't at the top of the food chain.
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Cam shredding Candlestick. Doesn't matter the discipline, Cam owns it in a modest, we don't need to talk about it, sort of way. Photo Credit: Daryl Rodgers
Most important lesson to teach the groms?
Left my wallet in… (fill it in):
My pocket, I hope
Beauty, sheer beauty.
Anything you’d like to plug, courtesy of WTB’s blog?
www.falconercycles.blogspot.com. Poorly updated blog for my framebuilding business, propper website is coming. Someday.