“Meriwether” is my nickname, after Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark. My real name is Whit Johnson. Meriwether Lewis was the Corps of Discovery’s primary route-finder and naturalist.
I learned to build bike frames in 2010 from a Master Framebuilder in Denver, Colorado. Since then, I have logged countless hours in the shop continuing that education treating it like an advanced degree. I put serious sweat equity in learning this trade.
I started riding a Schwinn Tornado in the late 70s to get to school and back. It wasn’t until middle school when I started mountain biking. I grew up in one of the ‘birthplaces’ of modern mountain biking — Marin County, California. When my first mountain bike, a Schwinn High Sierra, got stolen from school, I got a green Specialized Hard Rock and that was about the time when my friends and I started to explore the Mt. Tamalpais watershed and trail system. Growing up in that area was a bit surreal looking back. As kids we knew nothing of the supposed creation of mountain biking on Repack, we just knew how gnarly that descent was on the bikes of the time. We’d see the local wileys on their handmade Ritcheys, Breezers, Potts, Cunninghams, Otis Guys, WTBs, riding by and follow their lead. I didn’t know it at the time, but the handmade bug was in my blood.
Boulder, Colorado was my next home and was a whole different scene. I explored the foothills and mountains west of Boulder and Nederland and “discovered” many of the old mining roads and trails that I continued to ride for 20 years. Somehow I got fit enough over time to race Pro and tried my hand at that for about 5 years. I raced MTB and cyclocross around Colorado, as well as the NORBA national series, and Supercup cyclocross series.
I did my first mountain bike tour in 2004 and that was a game changer for me. I have always commuted by bike as much as possible and ridden with friends on long rides and races, but touring self-supported for days at a time was…well, I found my inner Meriwether all over again. These experiences made me want to create the most utilitarian bicycles that can take you anywhere you want to go – reliably and safely – whether it be a for gravel, mountain, road, or cross.
Since I can remember, I’ve wanted to build bike frames and forks, but not just any frames – frames that the likes of Meriwether Lewis would have chosen to use on the Corps of Discovery trek to the Pacific and back.