They aren’t famous or sponsored, but they’re people you should know about because they’re making mountain biking better for everyone, and we think they’re rad.
NAME: Brian Hann
LOCATION: Knoxville, TN
MEMBER OF: President of the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club (Knoxville SORBA chapter)
ALTER EGO: General contractor specializing in historic restorations/renovations of buildings in downtown Knoxville
PHOTO: Brian with Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero
1. How did you get into mountain biking?
We really didn't call it "mountain biking" in the suburbs of Cincinnati, OH. It was just riding our bikes in the woods and I didn't think about it being a separate activity from "bike riding" until the late 1980s when I wanted a bicycle other than my BMX bike. Most the kids were either not moving on from a BMX bike, or they were getting "10-speeds." The 10-speed seemed like a horrible way to ride a bicycle through the woods, but thankfully there were these crazy-colored, larger bikes with knobby tires. My first mountain bike was a Haro Escape with bio-pace. It was red, white and yellow. Instead of a helmet, I got a hat with the words "Mountain Madness" written on the side. I'm still torn by the actual naming of the sport since mountain biking would imply that you must have mountains to participate. We all know that's not true.
2. What’s the most rewarding thing you’ve done as a mountain bike volunteer?
The best thing right now is just watching things snowball into a real movement here in Knoxville. If you really think about it, this is not a difficult cause to push forward. We are advocating for the following things, not necessarily in this order: socializing with friends, exercising, conservation of open spaces and economic vitality. What right-minded individual can argue against these things? Breaking down the perceived barriers and seeing a very broad demographic enjoy our sport has been the most rewarding part of the job.
3. What keeps you coming back and helping out in your free time?
Free time … what's that? Doing nothing is not really an option.
4. Describe your favorite bike and why you love(d) it.
My favorite bike I own is a dirt jump bike. I don't dirt jump, but I sure would like to learn. I like it because it looks cool hanging in my barn and I think it makes me look younger.
5. Words of wisdom?
As I mentioned above, we have the best position in the world to advocate for. Getting people to buy in to the sport should not be difficult, but at the same time we have to turn that buy-in into action. For some reason, local governments are so much less inclined to spend a few thousand dollars on a trail system that will service thousands of people versus a baseball diamond that will serve a select few.
That being said, we basically have to take all the enthusiasm and excitement that you get when you ride a bicycle and turn it into construction. In order to do so, it has got to be fun for everyone involved. Work days, special events, rides, all these things need to be organized down to the last detail to at least give the perception that we are not a bunch of huckster beer drinkers. We have some fantastic people in our club that make that happen. Have fun, be organized and if you have ever worn a flat-brimmed hat, leave it at home when you are meeting with people that could make or break your organization.