August 27, 2012

Why I Love John Tomac

photo Mike Varley

growing up as a teenage mountain bike racer in the mid 90's my walls were plastered with photos from one of four mtb mags that I had a subscription to: MTB (later Mountainbiker), Bike, Mountain Biking, and Mountainbike Action.

Among the countless action photos of Greg Herbold, Hans Rey, Missy Giovi, Brian Lopes, etc were my true heroes, the cross country guys.  Now at this time you basically had three options, since no one really cared about the Euro's (Henrik Djernis, Thomas Frishnecht sp?, etc).  You were either a Ned Overend, Tinker Juarez, or John Tomac guy.

For me, since the days of my first used Bell Image Pro, there was only Tomac.  A rider whom I would consider possibly the greatest all around cyclist in history and certainly the most versatile professional cyclist there has ever been.

As a youngster he won a BMX national title, as a pro he won titles in DH, Dual Slalom and Cross Country.  He rode professionally on the road with 7-11 and Motorola, was the 1988 National Crit champ, did the Roubaix, the Giro, etc.

Take a look at his MTB resume:

Not only was he a bad ass in the results, but he was a style icon as well. Dude raced drop bars on his mountain bike, could throw a table top like a mother fucker, made stupid disc rear wheels cool, and made me want a pair of the Nike Grand Poobahs.

Not to mention that his riding was gorgeous and he loved to show off for the camera.

When talking about things like the "greatest ever" we of course must note that he rode in the era before today's modern specialists and was thus able to compete in more races and more disciplines than is thought prudent for a contemporary professional.  This is the same note we make when comparing Eddy Merckx to a contemporary champion.  It was simply a different time.

But regardless, no one has ever or will ever again dominate both endurance and bike handling disciplines like Tomac.  He had a successful BMX, Road, DH, Dual Slalom, and Cross Country career.
He was one of a kind, and one of my childhood idols.

Drink it in.

holy shit I totally forgot about the Troy Lee Designs sticker packs that you could buy back in the day until I saw this photo.  So rad.

drop bars suspension fork

Johnny Flat Whip




T.C. said...

Agreed. 100% Nike Pubah's?! Wanted them badly...

Chris said...

Grundig! Never knew what they sold, just wanted it because they sponsored races.

A friend of mine still has that Manitou fork. So cool.

blackmountaincycles said...

Small world. I took that first photo of Tomac at the Rockhopper South XC race in Big Bear Lake, CA in 1987. It would be great if you could credit the photo. Thanks.

And John is one of the nicest, hardest working guys you could ever meet.

Mike Varley

Jeff said...

credit added.