Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Charlie Cunningham Needs Help

There's a lot of new technology that's been introduced on mountain bikes the past couple of years.  Most visible are the 1x systems and the new Boost hub spacing.  If you ride a mountain bike with those features, you have Charlie Cunningham to thank.  You might not know that because his story with regards to those advancements isn't being told.  Charlie was running 1x systems with wide range freewheels and chain guides as early as 1979 on his mountain bike.  He pioneered wide spaced hubs to increase wheel strength and stiffness.  Here's a rabbit hole you can venture down that you need to do if you ride bikes:

As a charter member of the 1988 class of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, Charlie's influence on the mountain bike is indisputable.  However, it was a crash on his road bike that put him in the hospital with a serious brain injury.  The crash itself wasn't horrific - a few broken bones, scrapes...  He was recovering from the crash when complications set it weeks later and he suffered a subdural hematoma that sent him back to the hospital for emergency surgery.  He came out of it, but now is in the process of learning to speak and be mobile.  His wife Jacquie called me last week from his hospital room and put him on the phone with me.  His speech was slurred, but I could tell that he was all there and it was clear he is going to approach his recovery just like he does everything else - methodically and slow to make sure it's done right.

But that recovery is going to take time and he is likely going to be wheelchair bound for a while.  If you've ever been to their house, you know that it is not even remotely accessible by wheelchair.  His recovery is going to involve many more needed things beyond what simple health insurance covers so friends of theirs have set up a crowd sourced funding page at this link:  It's a lofty goal, but after only one day, it's reached 25% of its goal.  Charlie's friends and admirers are wide spread.  Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for helping if you can.

The trip to Baja California in 1988 when I first met Charlie and Jacquie. Charlie's in pants and jacket in the center. Kimberly Caledonia is on the right side fixing a flat.  She, like Jacquie, was a pioneer in women's mountain bike racing and tragically died several years ago of brain cancer.


Bokchoi Cowboy said...

Thanks for posting this Mike. I saw this over at MTBR - thread there: In that thread I suggested having a fundraising component to the Thanksgiving rides in Marin and up Kennedy on the peninsula, having the riders pony up something for Charlie. Also, getting manpower together to help with whatever modifications are needed for Charlie and Jacquie's home to help with his recovery. What are your thoughts?

Charlie has always been one of my favorite personalities in the history of mountain biking and California cycling. I wish him the speediest of recoveries.

blackmountaincycles said...

Thanks, Bokchoi Cowboy. I think those are all great ideas. However, I think Jacquie and, especially, Charlie need to be brought into the loop with regards to mods to Offhand Manor. Even if folks think jumping in now and getting going is a good thing, it needs to be thought out and signed off by Charlie. There's a bit of time to think it all through properly, but it's great that so many people are behind Charlie and wanting to support his recovery.