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Vjekoslav Novotni, the father of MTB

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Vjekoslav Novotni, Deputy Director of High School in BjelovarVjekoslav Novotni was born on June 21st, 1843 in Petrinja, Croatia. From 1901 to 1907 he was the general secretary of Croatian Mountaineering Association. In his itinerary Novotni described MTB ride dated on summer 1903 from Trebinje town to Zubački Kabao peak on Orjen mountain in Montenegro. On 1904 the itinerary was published in Croatian Mountaineer Magazines no 1 & 2,    3 & 4  in Croatian language only. The name of the article is From Zagreb via Orjen to Kotor, in Croatian language: Iz Zagreba preko Orjena do Kotora.

The quoted & translated sentences from the article:

"We scuttled along the rocky path. My wheel starts to catch the stones, tough arms of low pine tries and grass."

are the proof of the first documented MTB ride.

In other itineraries Novotni mentioned MTB rides along the canyon of Neretva river, Prenj and Medvednica mountains too. Instead hiking Novotni rode by the bicycle to speed up the trip on the mountains and to travel and monitor more sections per day.

In 2008 I discovered the story about Novotni and in honour to Vjekoslav Novotni I did the MTB route Herceg Novi - Orjen.

Thanks to Vjekoslav Novotni. Finally I found my idol!

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 02 February 2011 20:38 )  


#1 Bogdan Radaković 2010-12-24 13:30
Je si li iskopao štogod tehničkih informacija o bicklu?

Sretan Božić, odlično zdravlje i puno vožnji u NG.
#2 Miroslav 2010-12-24 14:31
Hvala, sve najbolje tebi i tvojima!

Što se tiče bicikla imam slike iz tog doba ali ne njegov bicikl. Ovo je slika baš iz 1903 iz zagrebačkog kluba Sloga. Fiksni prijenos, treba obratiti pažnju da su "klipser" već tada bili na pedalama.

Vozilo se u to vrijeme puno. Evo slike iz 1896, start utrke u Zagrebu.

Ove slike su ustupljene od Hrvatskog športskog muzeja koji mi je dao priliku da dobijem uvid u slike iz tog doba. Hvala im.

Cesta/put za Orjen sedlo je izuzetno dobro trasirana jer je to koristila vojska za konjske zaprege. Staza od sedla do vrha je također bila odlično trasirana ali je na žalost nestala u razdoblju 2 svjetska rata, progutala ju je vegetacija, led i kiša.
#3 Domagoj 2010-12-27 11:30
bicikl izgleda odlicno :)
#4 Miroslav 2010-12-27 12:06
Da, u to vrijeme su bicikli već imali takvu geometriju da je volan bio niži od sica, tj. vrlo slično kao današnji sportski bicikli. U gradu su vozili klasične sa znatno višim volanom od sica. Ceste su se tada radile za konjske zaprege i zbog toga su bile izvanredno projektirane nagib ne veći od 8% tako da se sa biciklom sa fiksnim prijenosom dalo lijepo voziti. Brojne planine su imale sa vojnog aspekta veliki značaj jer tada nije bilo avijacije. Zbog važnosti artiljerije podrazumijevalo se da neki teritorij je kontroliran ako se kontrolira i najviša točka. Gradile su se nove ceste po kojima bi konjske zaprege iznosile oružije i municiju na najviše kote. Idealno za bicikl ;-) . Orjen, Krn (dolina Soče) su odlični primjeri starih vojnih puteva koji su danas zapušteni ali još uvijek pogodni za MTB.
#5 Zlatka 2012-03-04 21:35
I think that Vjekoslav Novotni from Croatia is not the father of MTB, he only demonstrated mtb ride on the Croatia paths.

But my opinion is that design engineers and riders bicycles long times before him in United Kingdom (Coventry, Esz, London and Irish Belfast) with the development air-filled rubber tires.

First was John Kemp Starley and his 26 " bicycle „Rover Safety Bicycles“ in 1884/85, which was first fitted with strong rubber air filled tires (developed by John Boyd Dunlop, but originally by Scottish Robert William Thomson, even from 1846).

Another engineer was also the Englishman George Singer with its luxury bicycle „Apollo“ in 1888, viz. photo in bike-forum.cz.

Those were the first bicycles, which had comfortable ride in terrain with these tires. ;)
#6 Miroslav 2012-03-05 09:04
Thanks for comment Zlatka.

Novotni was a MTB rider, according to the available documents he wasn't a technical innovator. He did the first documented MTB ride available for me. His MTB ride from 1903 was well planned and documented MTB ride to the top of the mountain with elevation gain more than 1500 meters and distance more than 50km on the carriageway & singletrack. I can imagine someone did it before him but the reports are missing, so for me he is still the father of MTB. As I mentioned in above article he reported some MTB rides even before 1903 but details and date are not available.
#7 Zlatka 2012-03-05 12:20
Dear Miroslav,

thanks for your in response and also thanks for you nice story about Vjekoslav Novotni.

I understand, but i don´t think so. I maybe I'll repeat a some words, sorry.

First fathers MTB are only constructers & designers, who wanted to adapt bicycles, which at that time had a bad wheels, rims and tires. At that time, when had emergence of contemporary forms of today's mountain bikes, to rubber stronger air-filled tires.

First man rider on this bike in mountain isn´t father MTB, maybe only in Croatia..

I'm so sorry, no hard feelings, but you've nice www pages, have you a great !

Best regards.
#8 Miroslav 2012-03-05 13:25
No problem, hope I understand your point about "father of MTB".

Before 2 years and before I published above article I did some research in technical museums and bicycle associations. At the end of 19 and beginning of 20 century none engineer designed the bicycle exactly for MTB purposes. Most of the roads were just unpaved roads and carriageways. People use regular bikes with some modification (most of them were military versions) just as was documented in USA but 70 years later for pure MTB purposes...........

From my point of view MTB is not the device it's the idea to ride upside/down mostly on off road trails. Of course a mountain is the natural place for MTB. Last but not least he was a mountain climber too. Unfortunately in some countries bicycle and mountain climbing associations are not the friends :(.

My point is that I have no other worldwide report about pure MTB ride during this period of time. So let say he was at least the pioneer of MTB ride. Taking on mind what the meaning of MTB word is, in my country for such person we can say "the father of MTB".

Anyway if you have any data about first documented pure MTB ride worldwide or in your country please share them I would be very happy to see them. I am quite sure that somewhere in the Europe are the rudiments of MTB.

The bike isn't important :).

Thanks for discussion!
#9 Zlatka 2012-03-05 17:13
Dear Miroslav,

ok, according to this your opinion should should be called "the father of MTB" the famous rider Frank Lenz of Pittsburgh from Pennsylvania, who was killed during his trip around the world roku 1894 in Kurdistan.

He was this first rider in this bicycle "safety bicycle by JKS" from stronger rubber tires filled with air by John Boyd Dunlop, these are first historical records of their use in mountainous terrain.

These are old information and is absolutely are clear that oldest than he has rider Vjekoslav Novotni from Croatia with registered by 1500 meters and distance more than 50 km on the carriageway & singletrack..

See you the fotos and read these information:



#10 Miroslav 2012-03-05 19:20

From my point of view this was a long adventure trekking ride. Someone named this was tourist adventure ride. This wasn't pure MTB ride. The idea of the riders were completely different.

The original sentence from Novotni's report was: "We scuttled along the rocky path. My wheel starts to catch the stones, tough arms of low pine tries and grass." He was 60 years old when he did the documented MTB ride on Orjen. He reported some MTB rides before but it isn't clear when.

Try the trail Trebinje - Zubacki Kabao (peak of Orjen) - Kotor and for sure you will know what pure MTB ride is............

Thanks for very interesting links and provided data.
#11 Zlatka 2012-03-06 12:39
Hi Miroslav,

my opinion on the issues is clearly described above. I likes with you exchanged opinions, most delighted me.. ;)

#12 Miroslav 2012-03-06 14:06
Hi Zlatka,

We shared our opinions, no problem at all ;). Your comments are welcome.

Below is the elevation profile of Novotni's MTB trail Trebinje - Orjen - Kotor:

The profile calculation is based on DEM elevation data.

In honor to Novotni on 2009 I did almost the same MTB route:

Herceg Novi - Orjen

On above link you can see some images too. It was pure MTB trail with no trekking attributes.
#13 Zlatka 2012-03-07 01:57

thanks your show sample Novotni's MTB trails Trebinje - Orjen - Kotor, very good job, i agree a lot more demanding.

MTB is not just for riding for the mountains, Frank Lenz also had to ride many of them, had no good roads and paved roads were not, so you can imagine what all could ride on his bike.

I have him for "father MTB", so I stick with your opinion, that it for is not a constructers, engineers and bikes designers, but the first mountain bike rider..

I'm sorry, I do not change my opinion without much discussion with more riders.

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