In January of 1994, a 13-year-old Travis Engel—now gear editor—was coping with a local strain of cabin fever that afflicts most Midwesterners that time of year. Then, an unseasonably warm day provided some relief. But instead of seeking it on his mag-wheel-equipped GT Performer, Travis made the unauthorized and still unexplained decision to borrow his mom’s mountain bike. Even though much of that day’s elevation was gained on the western suburb’s mountainous piles of brown, frozen parking lot snow, Travis was inspired enough to scrape, sell and borrow until he could buy a mountain bike of his own. The following formative years were spent seeking rocky creek beds and urban landscapes to conquer on his trials bike. Then, after moving to

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