In 2009, Mountain Bike Hall of Fame cyclist Mike Rust called his girlfriend, told her that his house had been broken into and his gun stolen while he was out getting groceries and that he was going to get on his motorcycle and follow the tire tracks that led away from his home to catch who did it. He was never heard from again, though less than a week later a down vest and the butt of a gun were found with his blood on them. His motorcycle was found in a ravine nearby. This week, the discovery of a body between Highways 17 and 285 in Saguache County, where Rust lived, may be bringing an end to the mystery of his disappearance.
Rust’s story was told in the documentary film The Rider & the Wolf, whose teaser is below. Rust built his first mountain bike in 1965, customizing a Schwinn Stingray with 20-inch wheels, knobby tires front and back, and flat bars. He went to Crested Butte in 1980, rode the Pearl Pass tour that year, and stayed for two summers (but only in the summers, as he didn’t like the CB cold). In 1985, he moved to Salida and opened Colorado Cyclery with Don McClung, then built his first pure mountain bike, a nimble, elevated chainstay model called the Shortie—a development that eventually landed him in the Hall of Fame.
“Mike Rust was definitely one of the pioneers of mountain biking. In the earliest days in Crested Butte he was the ‘master of the conversion,’ cobbling together parts of any sort to make klunkers. These bikes were before production mountain bikes and undoubtedly influenced later designs coming out of California,” said film director Nathan Ward.
Rust grew disenchanted with the direction of the country—he called it the United States of Automobiles—and sold his share in the bike shop and retreated to 80 acres in Sagauche County.
“Salida got too civilized for him—too expensive, too many people,” said Rust’s brother Paul. “It just got too crowded. He wanted out of that. He wanted to be way out where people couldn’t find him.
Rust’s family long ago came to the conclusion that he was killed and told the filmmakers that they believe the body is his. “Mike’s family needs closure in this case,” they write on the website missingmikerust.com. “They need to know what happened to Mike and they want to lay his body to rest.”
The remains found in Saguache are being examined by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation; identification could come in a few days or take as long as six months.