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PAGE ONE of the interview PAGE THREE of the interview

When I worked for Bicycling Magazine, they ran an ad campaign using people who were not usually identified with bikes.


I told them about Bob being a mountain biker, and he posed for this ad.


Rodale Press ran off a proof copy of the ad, and Bob autographed it for me.


The actual poster is bigger than my scanner, so I had to join two images, which is why you see the line in the middle.

Below: Bob helps another rider with a flat tire.

The interview continues:

A few minutes later, Gary Fisher showed up and the four of us prepared to ride. For Bob this meant replacing a few small parts on his bike, cleaning and lubricating the chain, and fastening a small tape recorder just like mine to the handlebars. "Is the tape recorder to keep me honest?" I asked.

"Not at all. I get a lot of ideas when I'm out riding, and this is really a convenient way for me to take notes."

  We started up the road into the hills. Bob's lady friend was new at this and didn't care to join us on a hard-core ride, so Bob gave her a map and instructions that would take her on a short but pleasant round trip. Bob, Gary and I headed uphill, and I waved my recorder near him while I asked a series of dumb questions, punctuated on the tape by heavy breathing from both of us.

  I wanted to know how Bob got turned on to cycling.

"I had a bike when I was a kid; I don't even know what kind it was. I dropped bikes when I was thirteen or fourteen. About my middle to late twenties I took up running for exercise; I was a distance runner in high school. In the late seventies, running was starting to happen, and it got my attention. I ran pretty much daily for about ten years. I got as high as seventy miles a week, although I averaged more like thirty."

  "Last year about this time I was on tour in Colorado with Kingfish. It was a really short tour and we ended it up in Vail. Between this friend in Vail, and Howard from UltraSound, they dragged me out...Howard had been promising to get me on a bicycle because he knew I was a runner, and he thought I wouldn't have any problems getting into bicycles. He knows that I have an appreciation for 'tech.'"

  If there is any passion the Dead and their immediate associates share besides the music, it is an appreciation for things that are well made and work right.

  "Howard figured I was a natural for mountain biking, and he was right. He got me on a mountain bike in Vail, and the first time I tried it we got to about 12,000 feet. And I had to do it again the next day. The next day I came home and I called Gary [Fisher]."

  Gary Fisher is well known in the cycling community as one of the principals of the mountain bike movement, and produces his own bicycle line. In 1966 he met the Dead when he was a junior bicycle racer, and the Dead, along with Quicksilver Messenger Service, were hired to play a post-race dance at a bicycle race. Gary, who is now bald but who sported nearly waist-length hair during the early seventies, became one of the unofficial "Party Krew."

  "I didn't even know who Gary was, but Howard said he had a friend who made bikes, so I called him. I guess Gary remembered who I was" (interviewer laughs), "but I'd never known him by his real name...we always called him Spidey."

  (Interviewer) "It must have been some time since you two had run across each other."

  "Yeah, but it didn't take me long to recognize him."

(Interviewer) "Tell me about breaking your shoulder."

"The second day I had my bike, for want of anything better to do, I rode all the way to the top of the mountain, and that was wonderful, just ducky. I got all pumped with endorphins going up there, and then we came down. I was with a friend who was also more or less a novice, so we were making up the rules as we went along. We were pumped with endorphins, and by the time we got halfway down, adrenalin as well. I was perhaps less cautious than might have been prudent. I hit a particularly pernicious crag in the road, and did what I understand is called a 'Polish Wheelie.'"

"I landed in a driveway, right at this guy's feet, and fortunately he turned out to be a doctor. Well, he was an eye doctor, but at least he was a doctor. My shoulder wasn't working right, and my arm wasn't working right, and I couldn't figure out why. I had a bump in my shoulder; I figured it was dislocated. Anyway, it was broken, and I was laid up for about a month.

(Interviewer) "Did that screw up any band business?"


(Interviewer) "So you got the hot looks from some of the guys?"

"Garcia, fortunately or unfortunately, was also laid up at the time, so it didn't mess up too much. So having seen the pavement, I'm not really anxious to do anything like that again."

(Interviewer) "That just gets you your membership, though. Once you've done that, nobody can look at you and say, "Well, he's not real."

At this point I shut off my recorder and concentrated on keeping up with Bob, with mixed results as he and Gary finished the main climb nearly an hour later a hundred yards ahead. Apparently my non-intimidation plan was working. Shortly after that we hiked another quarter mile to a mountain top, where we surveyed the Bay Area.

Page 3 of interview

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