Marintroducing: Chris Holmes

Next up for a Marintroduction is Chris Holmes, Marin's Brand Director.

  • Name: Chris Holmes
  • Follow Chris Holmes:
  • Location: Western Sonoma County, CA
  • Riding with Marin since: 2014
Marin Bikes Brand Director Chris Holemes, racing Grinduro.

How would you describe yourself to a visitor from another planet?

A middle-aged guy who gets paid to talk about bikes, and who also loves kayaking, music, and photography.

What’s your background in cycling?

My first memories of cycling really clicking with me was when I received a Raleigh Rampar R10 BMX bike for my seventh birthday, back in 1977. We didn’t have a BMX track in the small East Central IL city that I lived in at the time, and these bikes, which my friends and I called “dirt bikes,” were two wheeled adventuremobiles.

My two best friends also had the same bike, one was silver, the other black. Mine was a metallic copper, eerily similar to the shade that Marin’s Larkspur 2 model is offered in. Our neighborhood was a bit isolated from the rest of the city, and it was surrounded by a golf course, a lake, and most importantly, a small forest (“the woods”), which is were we spent so many hours riding our dirt bikes as mountain bikes, exploring the trails, using them to get back to the forts we built from branches and various found building materials.

A couple of years later I bought a Raleigh Rapide 10 speed with money earned from mowing lawns, shoveling snow, and paper routes. That 10-speed was ridden extensively and probably saw most of the roads in that small city, and when riding it every block away from home felt like a mile. A year or so later one of my friends bought an early Schwinn Sierra mountain bike and my mind was blown. Here was a bike that combined the off-roadability of the “dirt bike,” with the gearing and comfort of the 10-speed. A seed was planted.

Cycling faded from my life for a couple of years after getting my license (oh-so-common with American teens in the 80s) and while I went off to college. I had run cross country in high school and had been idle for too long, so I decided to check out new bikes. The memory of that Sierra was still fresh enough that I walked out of a little ski and bike shop with a new 1990 Trek 830, which was ridden extensively through the forest preserves of southwest suburban Chicago, as well as some excursions up to Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine State Forest.

My friends Don and Joe also joined the party around the same time, and we’d road trip to races within a few hours of our Chicagoland home base. That’s when I became a mountain biker, even while living in the relatively flat lands of the Midwest.

How did you get involved with Marin?

I came onboard with Marin nearly seven years ago, having spent most of my professional career in the bicycle industry, starting in a shop, and then working for a few brands in various sales, product development, and marketing roles. I had known Marin’s CEO Matt V for some time, having been “industry friends” and spending time together at some great events, and he was in the process of rebuilding the storied brand after a change in ownership. I was thrilled to be offered a role in helping revitalize Marin for the new era.

Side note, the first mountain bike I lusted after was a ’93 Pine Mountain. My aforementioned friends Don and Joe and I road tripped from Chicago to SF and Marin County in the spring of ’93, to both visit a friend as well as check out the birthplace of mountain biking. While in a Mill Valley shop I saw this beautiful Pine Mountain, silver and grey, with anodized violet highlights and a stellar XT drivetrain.

If I remember correctly, it was $750, which was a lot of money for a kid who was a part-time assistant manager of a record store. There was only one Marin dealer in the Chicago area, a good hour from my home. I inquired about getting a Pine Mountain, but they would only order one if I paid in full. Sadly that one got away. Fast forward a quarter-century and I was able to snag one out of the UK from my friend and colleague John. One dream fulfilled!

Old photo of kid riding a mountain bike on Mt. Tam, Marin County.

What do you do at Marin?

My role at Marin is Brand Director, and in a very broad scope I am responsible for all things marketing. That being said, Marin is a small company, so we all wear a lot of hats.

In addition to the expected duties like PR and media relations, writing, advertising, organizing photo and video shoots, etc, I do a lot of behind-the-scenes work on the website, event planning, some photography, fleet management for Marin’s US-based vehicles, etc. Never a dull moment, and no two days are the same

What's the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is getting paid to talk about and to ride bikes for a living. I’m fortunate to have a job that I love, with a brand that I believe in, and a lot of amazing colleagues who make and sell these two-wheeled freedom machines.

Gravel rider in a forest

What was the best day at Marin you’ve had so far?

Best day at Marin so far? Jeez, that’s a tough one as I have had so many. I love traveling and seeing new places, and it’s pretty astounding how many great trips I have been on. Probably the best day in recent memory was in August of 2019, where my friends at Vital MTB invited me to join them on a heli drop outside of Whistler.

My dad was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, and I had long wanted to go up in a chopper. Not only did one longtime dream come true, but it was followed by a simply amazing few hours descending some choice trails with a great crew of fellow riders, all in the name of media relations. That evening was spent getting in some laps at Whistler Bike Park, so yeah, it was quite the day.

What inspires you to do your job at Marin?

The bikes that our talented product development team creates is a big inspiration, as I want to shout about their greatness to the world. Our fantastic bikes help make my job a little easier.

Chris Holmes riding Marin full suspension bike

What bikes do you own and which is your go-to bike?

'93 Pine Mountain (the one that got away, but was later found)
’17 Pine Mountain 2 (the bike packing and winter MTB)
’17 Muirwoods w/ BionX ebike conversion (the beast)
’17 Wolf Ridge Pro (the squishy bike)
’18 Four Corners Elite with S&S couplers (the travel bike)
’19 Nicasio 2 with full-wrap fenders (the rain bike)
’20 Headlands (serial number 1!), custom build (the go-to)
’21 Pine Mountain 2 (on loan from Marin)

The Headlands is my go-to, ridden as both a “rugged road” bike as the back roads around my rural home are not in the best shape, as well as a gravel bike. It’s also my fair-weather commuter.

Describe your riding style with a movie title

Oh jeez, I don’t watch a whole lot of films, as I generally don’t have the patience. Most are watched while flying (just as Hollywood intended).

How about a song title instead? “Flying Low,” the closing track on Mazzy Star’s last full-length album Seasons of Your Day.

I like the sensation of speed, but am more of a wheels-on-the-ground kind of rider.

Gravel Riders at Grinduro event

Favorite post-ride meal and beverage?

Burrito and a beer. Or a breakfast burrito and a Mexi Coke if the ride wraps up in the morning

Tell us something unusual about yourself that people might not know?

Nothing too unusual about me or my backstory, other than I am probably one of the few remaining people who still spend a fair bit of money buying records. Physical media always beats streaming!

Chris Holmes with 1993 Marin Pine Mountain mountain bike

What’s on your desk?

My desk is generally pretty clean, with only a coffee mug and a tumbler, and the occasional magazine. My windowsill has a collection of some special-edition Marin-labeled beers and a few pieces of ephemera.

What was the last book or magazine that you read?

I’m about three quarters through Nomadland by Jessica Bruder, where the author follows older Americans who work temporary jobs while living full time in their vehicles. A fascinating peek into this little known part of American society. I’ll watch the movie once I’m done.

Chris Holmes at his desk at Marin HQ

What have you learned from your time at Marin that you’d share with the world?

While not exclusive to my time at Marin, but it truly is possible to have a great work/life balance and to have a fun career. It’s just that the Marin chapter has been my best so far.

If you could put an announcement on a billboard for every cyclist to see - what would it say?

Keep it fun.

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