Jobst Brandt

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008
By Yokota Fritz


I suppose I should mention that I ran into the man over the weekend! That would be Jobst Brandt, well known Internet pedant on all things bicycling. He literally wrote the book on The Bicycle Wheel.

Jobst Brandt


He was riding an ancient yellow steel 10 speed -- yes, a real ten speed bike with only ten speeds with downtube friction shifters. He and his buddy Joachim (another HP old timer) ride Shimano SPD clipless and walked into the Foster's Freeze in Boulder Creek, California and ordered a couple of root beer floats.

I stupidly asked "Are you Jobst Brandt? I've read your stuff on the Internet for almost 20 years now." He chuckled and said his Internet postings get him in trouble. He then gave me his opinions on polypropylene jerseys (the best; it's too bad some people end up stinking in them), the Sun Microsystems logo (should have stayed with the old one), bike touring in the Alps (everybody should try it), Sumitomo tractors (it's not that hard to pronounce, he says) and Swiss cog railroad companies (they should keep the same name instead of confusing everybody with name changes).

It was a delightful visit.


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Comments:
I can imagine Fritz squealing like a teenager at the sign of Brandt and Mrs. Fritz rolling her her eyes sighing, "not again". And of course the little Fritz's asking if they can go already.
 
That's great. On a recent tour to SF from Oregon, my tour partner and I ran into one of his cohorts named Mike Higgins. He pulled us and our 70lb bikes from Pt. Reyes to the Mill Valley bike path, before he dropped us to catch CalTrain back to Palo Alto.

If you haven't seen these, be sure to check out the old skool mixed terrain rides, which contain Jobst, Mike, Tom Ritchey and others:
http://www.geocities.com/rayhosler/coastrangeslides/coastrange.html
 
Oh, also worth mentioning...

Mike was also on an ancient Ritchey Road with 10 or 12 gears, 37cm bars, and a beat to hell Italian leather saddle. And I don't think he ever got out of the big ring. Guy has a billion miles in his legs.
 
@Jerry: As I posted this last night Mrs Fritz and the little Fritz's were making fun of me. They saw Timmy's comment in my Flickr stream: "Did you give him hugs and soak his wool jersey with your tears of adoration?" and Mrs Fritz responded, "Yeah, just about." Little Fritz #1 just said, "You're such a nerd, dad." The Fritz Family is seated in the booth in the background.

@Gino: Ritchey looks about the same today as he did nearly 30 years ago. I was a little surprised to see him ride with a plastic Avocet saddle (I had forgotten his disdain for leather saddles).
 
Jobst came to an Alto Velo meeting a few months ago and did a slide show of his alpine forays. Well worth the late train back from Mountain View.

I've ridden quite a bit in France as well as Italy and Belgium for an American but amusingly I have not seen a picture of Jobst on ANY pass that I have summited. He spent far more time in the Italian and Swiss Alps. I was typically following the Tour and always seemed to be on Alpe D'Huez (never seen a photo of his from there) and on random passes North and West of there - maybe Jobst finds those passes pedestrian (I have seen his photos from Galibier, which I have never managed to fit into my itinerary). And I've not seen any photos of him in the Pyrenees.

Maybe it's because he always prefers passes that include offroad sections, especially those with snow.
 
About 5 years ago on my first tour of the French Alps, I met Mr Brandt and his riding partner at the Hotel des Glaciers on the Col du Lauteret.

At first I thought they were just average American cycle tourists. They had come from Italy. We shared some pleasant conversation at the breakfast buffet. I described how I nearly got frostbite descending the Galibier which prompted a lecture from the older American cyclist about how he always recommends carrying full-fingered gloves in the Alps. Then it dawned on me. "Say, are you..." "Yep, that's Jobst Brandt" said the other American.

Long an admirer of his Alpine photographs, I admit to being somewhat "star struck". (As a kid growing up in a small town, I remember being impressed by his photos on the cover of the PA Bicycles mail order catalog).

Before departing the hotel for the descent towards Briancon, I stopped out front to assemble my things on a bench and put on a jacket. Like an idiot, I took off down the mountain and forgot my seat bag—which contained all of my essential travel items (passport, cash, cc, etc)—on the bench. I realized my mistake near Briancon, after a fast 3,000 ft descent.

Eventually I made it back up to the hotel, where the staff informed me that Jobst and his friend had turned in the bag. Someday I'd to meet them again to say "thanks".
 
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