History, Like Cordwood

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I almost didn’t stop.

It was a sunny September day when I saw Gene’s pickup truck parked in front of the laundromat with the bed full of bikes. I stopped by to say hello and harass Gene for having so many klunkers sitting around- until I saw the cargo.

Stacked up like cordwood in the back of the Tacoma were more Fat City cycles than I’d ever seen. Wicked Lites, Shock-a-Billys, Slim Chances, and a pristine ‘cross frame and fork were laying on top of each other like a litter of newborn puppies.  That beautifully garish lilac paint that I’d only seen in pictures was draped over several frames sitting amongst each other in the pile.

I stood staring and listening to how Gene had come to possess all of them. Fat City had gone through several iterations in Boston, Saratoga Springs, and finally Stowe, Vermont. The move to Vermont was one of the last steps before the ever-teetering company fell into full and final collapse. I was looking at the dregs of what had been an impressive collection that had been frequently raided over the last decade since their demise.

When I was a teenager working at the shop Fat City was legendary- the Ti version of the Yo Eddy was the best mountain bike anyone could hope to own. One of my first experiences with UVM Cycling was seeing my friend Nate on a Magura rim brake equipped steel Yo that he’d gotten as part of their grass roots team.

No matter how you assess Fat City it’s hard to deny that their influence far exceeded the number of frames they sold in a year. Their brand was iconic and industry types talk about them like a great rock band whose lead singer died before his time and with only a couple of albums under his belt.

Most cyclists of the carbon era have never heard of Fat City, and I doubt that anyone else saw Gene’s payload as anything more than a stack of bike carcasses.

I’m glad I stopped to take a look.

 

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