LAGUNA HILLS, CA (BRAIN)—Bicycle Retailer was fortunate enough to catch up with the iconic Joe Breeze, asking him a few questions on his relationship with mountain biking pioneer John Finley Scott, who was murdered at age 72 last year.
BRAIN: How did you first get to know Scott?
Breeze: I first met John Finley Scott at the Davis Double Century in 1975. Otis Guy and I, on our new Eisentraut tandem, had been out in front from practically the beginning, having ridden away from Peter Rich's Velo Sport team, George Mount included. People had always said tandems would never win the hilly Davis DC, so there was little incentive to chase. Finley, a lover of tandems, was in a follow vehicle watching the drama of the ride unfold. We were able to stay away on the early hills, and the chase only started to gain on us when our front wheel de-tensioned going over Mt. St. Helena. We made it over clear, but we were so far ahead of the prior-record pace that food stations hadn't been set up yet. Out of gas, the bunch caught us just before we clocked in at the mandated lunch break. Finley was ecstatic about our progress. We were showing people what a tandem could do on hills. After lunch, the bunch stuck to us like glue, but on the 60 mph descent beyond Resurrection Hill we made our move. They chased furiously down Cache Creek, but we continued to pull away. Thirty minutes later, Finley rolled alongside and yelled to us, "They're dying!" We rolled into Davis 20 minutes clear in 8:59, at which point, Finley matter-of-factly said, "Of course you won, you were on a tandem."
BRAIN: What type of man did you find him to be?
Breeze: Finley was a bit of a crank. He would regularly deliver bold statements sure to elicit a good deal of thinking. I enjoyed this mental sparring, particularly when the subject was bikes. He got ideas flowing. Because of his fearless nature, intellect and energy our world is richer. He held a vast store of bicycle knowledge and wasn't afraid to share it. He had words of wisdom about any bike subject. He was insightful and incite-full. He told it as he saw it and how it should be. His views were often far from the norm, if not opposite. His passion for biking sparkled and I found him quite likeable even when I didn't agree with him.
BRAIN: Ultimately, what should Scott's legacy be in the sport of mountain biking?
Breeze: Regarding mountain biking, Finley was a visionary, but in an empty forest. His 1953 "Woodsie" bike was too far ahead of its time and did not affect the bike industry. When others entered the woods in droves 20 years later, he was delighted and offered his support. His backing of Fisher and Kelly gave their "MountainBikes" business more momentum, perhaps the critical momentum to carry through to inspire others.
To see what others had to say on Scott including Gary Fisher, Charlie Kelly and Tom Ritchey, check out the January 1 issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.