Moots Zerkel 1989
I competed in the Race Across America in 1987 and 1988 on a race route from San Francisco to Washington, DC. Both years the race passed through Steamboat Springs, CO and the bike shop in that town, called Sore Saddle Cyclery, hosted one of the timing checkpoints for the race. My support crew of twelve had a van, a car, and a motor home. Only the van, with usually three crew on board, would stay with me at all times. As such, my mechanic stopped to check out this funky bike shop located in a bizarre-looking old brick kiln (or some such thing) building. Lo and behold, they also had a frame builder in-house named Kent Eriksen, who sold his hand-made frames under the name of Moots, which was the name of the rubber dragon thing he had atop his pencils when he was a kid. Kent gave my mechanic, Chris Mundwiler, a tour of his frame shop. Later that day, over the loud-speaker affixed to my support van, while I ascended 11,307 foot Berthoud Pass on my bike, Mundwiler told me all about Kent and his Moots bicycles. I finished the race in 10 days, 23 hours, and 58 minutes. A few days later, my then girlfriend and I drove back home in reverse on the race route, recalling many of things that had happened along the way during the race. We stopped in to visit Moots and I hit it off with Kent immediately. A year later, I visited him again. That February I had raced in the second-ever Iditabike (later Iditasport) 200-mile mountain bike race on snow in Alaska. Kent offered to build me a custom mountain bike for that, plus for a crack at the first-ever 24 Hour Mountain Bike World Record. And thus this one-of-a-kind Moots bicycle came to be mine and I’ve raced and ridden it in all kinds of place and conditions since then. Of course, for a long time now, Moots bicycles have been built exclusively in unpainted titanium (and Kent hasn’t been involved with Moots for nearly 20 years, though he still builds under his own name), but back in the pre-suspensions late 80s, this bicycle was the envelope-pushing state-of-the-art. It has many unique features, including adjustable “Moots Mounts” which allow the brakes to be rotated upwards in order to fit 700c wheels to the bike (to make a road bike out of this mountain bike), dual front dropout position, to adjust the ride according to terrain or surface (snow or dirt, for example), the swayed back seat stays which were intended to stiffen the rear end, and for the first time ever (at least on a Moots), all the cables are routed over the top tube to keep them away from the snow in which I raced several winters back then. This bicycle features a lot of Ritchey components, and wheels custom-built by Dave Prion around American Classic hubs (28 hole front, which was outlandish at the time, and 32 hole rear). It’s an incredible ride and really feels as far removed as possible from the mountain bikes of today. By the way, the “Rasta” paint job features the traditional Jamaican red, yellow, and green, but also black “smoke” to reference, well, you can guess. (The original paint job was a zebra stripe which I didn’t like, so Kent repainted it in 1991 for me, in the color scheme that you see here. I had some gouges touched up in a few places, and the whole frame clear-coated, by Cyclart to preserve its appearance and keep it authentic). Again, the ride is dream-like, an odd cross between a tractor which can roll over anything – without suspension – and a light, racy nimbleness due to the even-at-the-time totally unusual road diameter tubing.