Mountain biking founders, and early racers, wow the crowds in Villard de Lans at 25th anniversary of first world championships

US MTB legends reunite in Alpine resort

Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze, Jacquie Phelan, Hans Rey, Scot Nicol, Ned Overend and others joined French mountain legends such as Jacques Devi and Christian Taillefer in Villard de Lans at the weekend. In 1987 the ski resort, in the Vercors region of France, hosted the first ever MTB world championships.

The original event was organised by Winning Magazine and was held three years before the UCI took control of mountain bike racing.

British riders at the 1987 event included Julia King and Andy Pegg of the Muddy Fox team, and Lester Noble, part of the first ever British mountain bike team. This team was founded by me and Peter Darke of Darke Cycles, Sunderland.

Sporting an original white Brit team jersey (it’s still quite classy, considering the neon fixation of the time) Darke had brought a 1985 bike to ride, other early riders brought their machines, some of which were displayed in a pop-up mountain bike museum in the Villard de Lans ice skating rink.

One of the bikes on display was a 1987 Schwinn brought over to France from Alaska by its owner Mary Lee Atkins. Now known by her married name of Stiehr, Atkins was the female winner of the 1987 world championships (the male winner was Ned Overend). She retired from the sport following the event.

The 25th anniversary event was staged by Generation Mountain Bike, a French group devoted to promoting the history of mountain biking.

Above, left-to-right: Ned Overend, Gary Fisher and Joe Breeze

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