Jobst Brandt died last night at the age of 80. Jobst was a very influential character in the cycling world, and though he may not realize it, he affected me greatly.
Jobst knew how to travel light on multi day tours in Europe, in the Alps and Dolomites, not to mention our local Sierra Nevada. While consulting with Avocet, Jobst met Gary Erickson, who would later found Clif Bar and Company. Jobst taught Gary how to travel light. Gary taught me, using the same method — affix a large seat bag on your bike, bring only the essentials, and then ride all day long, staying in small hotels along the way. Of course we traveled dirt roads and hiking paths all over Europe.
I did have the pleasure of riding with Jobst a few times. He was opinionated, and always spoke his mind. One time, at the Interbike Show, I was walking with Gary and Jobst to go speak with the folks at the Selle Italia booth. Selle Italia made the saddles for Avocet, and Gary had designed the very first Avocet gel saddle a number of years prior, before starting Clif Bar.
By this time, Clif Bar had become quite successful, and Gary was a highly regarded business icon. Jobst leans over to Gary, cups his hand by his mouth, and says to Gary, “I don’t see how you sell so many of those damn Clif Bars, they taste like shit.” That was Jobst.
Another time, I was riding Mt. Hamilton and stopped at The Junction. Jobst rolls up. I wasn’t sure he’d recognize me, so I went up to him, introduced myself again, saying, “Remember me? You, Gary and I rode together in the High Sierra, I work at Clif Bar.” Well, I was kitted up in the latest bright red, fancy Clif Bar cycling gear. Jobst surveys me with a disapproving look, running his eyes from my head to my toes. He quips, “Yes, I see you there in that Fire Engine Suit.”
When I began riding in the 80’s, I built my first bike from an old Reynolds 531 frame (I traded my $35 membership at Cal Sailing Club for the frame), and I built the wheels for that bike, my first pair. I rode the piss out of those wheels. All my friends were buying Mt. Bikes but I couldn’t afford one. I just put some big tires on that frame and rode it on the dirt. I used Jobst’s book on wheel building to build the wheels. The wheels never failed me. Since then, I’ve built almost every wheel I’ve ridden. Jobst got me off to a good start.
Jobst had a bicycle accident a few years back on his 76th birthday. It was his last ride, and he never fully recovered. He did, however, live a full life and contributed greatly to the cycling world. Not everyone got along with Jobst, but I am eternally grateful for what he taught me, directly and indirectly.
Thank you, Jobst. May you rest in peace.
A great article by Ray Hosler: