Your Pedal Bicyclical – National Bike Month


Real quickly, let’s talk about the Trek recall. You are affected if you have a Trek or Gary Fisher with a front disc brake and a quick-release skewer that opens past 180 degrees. If you are unsure if your bike qualifies, please bring it to us and we will happily check it out. We have replacement skewers in stock and are ready to take action. Here’s a bit more information:

May is National Bike Month, and there’s a pile of stuff coming up quickly:

  • Shop rides on Thursdays are happening, despite the spotty weather. 6:15 from our downtown location.
  • Lotsa road rides just about every evening after work. KBC keeps a nice schedule here. Note: KBC rides start at 6:15 from now through the end of August. Don’t be late!
  • The Fort Custer Stampede is this weekend and you can still register online until 11:45 tonight, just in case you’re dragging your feet. Like me.
  • Mountain bike Monday starts next Monday. Wheels start rolling at 5:45 at the Fort Custer trailhead. Do you need to be a Titan of Trail or a Duchess of Dirt to participate in the fun? Heck no! Is inspiration what you need? Here’s part one of five.
  • Yes. OK. I know I’ve been rattling on for the last few months about Bike Week. I’m into it for a couple of reasons. One, I like the idea of raising the awareness of bikes and cyclists in our community. Secondly, heck, there are fun things to do. Art filmLocal celebritiesStuff for kidsBeer. It all starts next weekend.
  • Bike CampBike CampBike Camp. If you’re new to road riding and want a very good primer, might I recommend Bike Camp? Starts real soon.
  • We’re involved with local triathlon. We’ve got Double Time, a couple of kids’events and the Gull Lake Tri. Woah. Grass roots racing. Lots of fun.
  • Tour de Taylor is June 13th.
  • Skinny tire racing is back in town on July 11th with the 10th annual (can you believe it?) Miller Energy BTR Crit. Lots of state championship racing right here in Kalamazoo.
  • And as per usual the next day is road racing in Lawton. If the turns and close racing of a crit aren’t quite your bag, maybe road racing is. This is a great local race that benefits Michigan Make a Wish. If racing isn’t your thing, it’s pretty fun to ride out to Lawton, watch a little racing and head back home.

The Ramble

I love riding a bike for many reasons: exercise, competition, comaraderie, utility. But one thing I enjoy over the longer term is watching the seasons change. Watching the famers plow the fields and the corn grow and the combines coming through in the fall when the long-sleeve jersesys reappear from the backs of closets. It’s hard for me to say what my favorite scene might be, but on the ride through the country last night, all of the plants looked ready to burst into bloom. It was a picture of anticipation; as though everything is waiting for just the right moment to happen. What fun.

Many folks ask, “How’s it going?” I just want to take a hot second and say thanks for the interest and that it’s going great. We have a good amount of work to do in the near and far terms, but we are (I think) pointed in the right direction and moving foward. That said, I’m always interested in your feedback.

And we’re off! Have a fantastic riding season.




Innovative, made in America Speedplay recently introduced several updates and new products.

First up is the near-mythical SYZR, a mountain bike pedal that’s been in the works for a number of years. You can read all about it here, but the main takeaways are the famous Speedplay float and the fact that the pedal interface doesn’t get sloppy as the shoe wears. Nice stuff. Bonus: spooky looking cleat, like something out of Star Trek.

IMG_3706 IMG_3707

The Zero Pave looks a whole lot like a regular Zero with all the plastic knocked out. The minimalist Pave is not a mountain bike pedal, but it does shed dirt better than the lollypop pedals. And some people totally dig the looks.


While I’ve liked Speedplay pedals for a long time, I’ve never liked the fact that it’s a sketchy deal to walk/run in the metallic cleat, and that the cleat is easily jammed with dirt, necessitating that the well-prepared rider carry around some ilk of cleat cover. The new cleat does a lot to mitigate both of my issues.

Check it out: a new cleat with a replaceable, grippy, aero cover. Nice! And available for both Zero and Light Action pedals.


But wait! There’s more! What about a nifty little cover for the delicate parts. And what if the left and right cover joined together to make it less likely that you’ll drop one by the side of the road? It would be heaven, indeed.






And the whole package looks like this when they’re installed



Way to go Speedplay! Nice new stuff and some extremely well-considered upgrades to existing products.

Your Pedal Bicyclical – No Fooling

Happy April!
One of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, said that when he wrote he felt, “Like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” I’m feeling similarly capable of organizing my thoughts for this month’s Bicyclical. Let’s see how it turns out.
The Past:
The ice and frozen ruts in the roads of Melting Mann gave many of us cause to remember that cycling is and can be a little bit dangerous. People who use the term, “I’ve never felt more alive,” are seldom talking about sitting in a comfortable chair, watching TV. When you ask out the pretty girl, she might say no. When you race on the rough roads, you might get to know them more intimately than you wish.
I bring this up not to encourage risky behavior for the sake of risky behavior. Nor am I suggesting that you shouldn’t ride a bike — you should. But you should be aware of the risks. And the rewards.
The Present:
We’re changing Breakaway in Portage to Pedal. The change in signage is underway and will continue for some time. I’m doing this for a couple of reasons. One is that we’re no longer affiliated with the Breakaway stores in Muskegon and Grand Haven, and I’d like to end confusion on that front. Another is that, well, Pedal is my heart, and I want a piece of my heart at 185 Romence Road.
On April 6th we’re changing the hours in Portage to match those downtown — 10-7 Monday and Wednesday; 10-6 on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 10-5 on Saturday. I’ve worried this change to death, and my reasoning boils down to a consistent experience — consistent between stores and consistent each time you visit the store. I would rather us be open fewer hours but be better staffed, more consistently staffed and better able to serve you.
Lots of new spring and summer clothing in both stores. Of particular interest is the New Road collection of clothing from Giro at our downtown spot. I’ve been interested in the trend toward cycling gear that looks more like clothing and less like sausage casing for a while now. Seems like it started happening with mountain biking a few years ago and is now coming to road bike apparel. I’ve been using some wool, made in America Giro stuff for a while, and I’m very pleased. Fernando famously declared that it’s better to look good than to feel good. Do both!
Shop ride! Let’s start April 9th. 6:15 at the downtown location. Routes will be oh so slightly different, as Old Douglas is in terrible shape and is not worthy of us. Also, this year our plan is to emphasize the Group in group ride. How will that pan out? Let’s see.
The trails just aren’t quite ready for us, so Mountain Bike Monday will start in May.
New faces are everywhere. Liz and Quinn are customer-facing in Portage, while Jack and David hide in the service department. Jess is a terrific new salesperson downtown.
Learn how to change a flat and enact road-side repairs. Ladies only class on 4/11, co-ed on 4/25. Let’s do it at the Romence Road location, since there’s (substantially) more room. Please call 269/324-5555 to sign up. Limit 15 to class. Knowledge is power. The class is free. Free power!
KBC rides are happening now.
The Future:
Something new this year is the Bike Swap put together by SWMMBA, our local mountain bike organization. It’s Sunday, April 12th at Holiday Inn West. Buy some stuff. Sell some stuff. Check out some stuff. We’ll be there, and hope you’ll stop by and say hello. More info here.
The EZ 5K is a great 5K run/walk, the proceeds of which help fund the EZ Memorial Foundation, which offers scholarships and community contributions in honor of Eric Zapata. It’s Saturday, April 18th and very worthy of your consideration.
The following day (April 19th) is the Yankee Springs Time Trial. If I could recommend one thing, it would be that you not race expert when you’re out of shape, riding a bike that you built the day before. Seriously: fun.
More Local Mountain Bike Race! Fort Custer Stampede is May 3rd. I’ve done this the last two years and had a great time crashing all over the place. Seriously: low key, fun time.
Bike Camp! It’s not about camping, but is about learning skills and rules for safer road riding.
The Kal-Haven Trail Blazer is May 9th this year. Proceeds benefit the Kal-Haven Trail.
Bike Week! May 9th – 17th. Lots of good stuff going on that week.
Right smack in the middle of Bike Week (5/13) is the Ride of Silence. Our area ride begins at Milham park and is open to anyone willing to wear a helmet. We’ll ride a slow, short loop of town. If you’d like to raise cycling awareness in the community, this is an event that could use your participation. More details next month.
We have a secret fun event in the planning stages for Friday the 15th. Once corporate approves this thing, details will be revealed!
Make the pilgrimage up north for the Zoo-de-Mackinac on May 16th.
Multisport more your thing? Races for adults and kids here. Of particular note: DoubleTime on May 30 and Gull Lake June 27th.
Tour de Taylor is June 13th.
The Ramble:
Spring is here. We’re dusting off bikes and getting them ready for another season on the roads and trails. Cycling is happening in our community. Look at the Township adopting a complete streets program. Look at the plans from KATS. Look at the really cool plan that MDOT put together for a major downtown corridor. Notice how funding has moved away from trails and toward pavement infrastructure. Wow! Who saw this happening five years ago? Not me.
So here’s the deal: public money is being spent on cycling infrastructure. Some folks are going to get bent out of shape about this, and we need to make sure that we’re always putting our best foot forward. When you’re riding — dare I say especially when you’re riding with a group — I ask you to remember that the motoring public will judge all of us and our worthiness to enjoy public money based on your actions. I sincerely appreciate your consideration.
My wife attended a fancy-pants business meeting this month, the keynote speaker of which formerly led the Blue Angels. Talk about stress! In his speech, this gentleman discussed studies demonstrating that happy people share one common trait — they are grateful.
Curiosity, Grit, Gusto and Gratitude. This is us. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you. Ping me any time.

Stacy, Meta-Stacy

This has nothing to do with bikes. This has everything to do with experiences.

Taking Stacy Duckett to see Bruce Springsteen in Memphis remains one of the most memorable of my college-age experiences. I believe it was my sophomore year, and Bruce was touring in support of his Born in the USA album.

Were I to think of a single term to describe Stacy Duckett, it would be poised. To me, she was terribly together. Very pretty. Cool hair. Clothes matched. Really great voice. A year older than me. Honestly, I thought she was completely out of my league, but I had tickets to see Springsteen and I wasn’t going to waste that kind of capital on anyone that wasn’t a stretch.

I can’t remember how we got to Memphis. I’m sure we drove, but my crappy VW Scirocco was an absolute pile. If we drove that, Stacy was brave on top of everything else. We stayed with the parents of my friend Dave Ford, which was pretty cool; we didn’t have to drive back to Little Rock in the middle of the night.

It was a fantastic concert, and just a perfect evening. I remember being very, very happy.

Stacy and I went out a few more times, but it just didn’t take. As poised as Stacy was, I was not, and there just wasn’t enough between us to make it work. I don’t recall a lot of heartbreak and anguish; it just didn’t happen.

I saw Stacy once after college, at the Oyster Bar on Markham in Little Rock. I think she was in law school at the time, and I was working for the man (the man named Systematics). I remember having such incredible self-confidence that I introduced myself all over again when I said hello. She was great, and obviously on her way to something.

Monday I found out that Stacy died, and I became totally, completely sad. I teared up telling my mom and brother about her passing. They were nice in their support, but I didn’t think that they totally got where I was coming from, so I called my friend Bob, who’s always been good at rooting out the cause of my problems. In the course of our conversation, I told Bob that one of my parents’ friends died few years ago, a friend who meant a great deal to me and who taught me a lot and a guy with whom I’d meant to share his importance. But I didn’t. Since then, I’ve been much more determined to tell people who matter to me that they do. Bob said, “If you start that shit with me, I’ll hang up. But we’ve always talked to each other like that.”

I am sad that Stacy is gone. I’m sad that I didn’t take the time to contact her. I’m sad that my generation is dying. I’m as sad as I’ve been since my dad died. But I am very, very happy that I have a great memory of a perfect evening in 1984.

Cool Around the Shop


This gallery contains 17 photos.

We’ve had some interesting Konas in the shop recently and managed to take a few typically blurry pictures. First up is a customer’s Hei Hei Deluxe. Carbon frame. Carbon rear triangle. Fox CTD suspension. 120mm of travel up front, 100mm … Continue reading

Your Pedal Bicyclical – Great Expectations


Bad news: My driveway does not shovel itself.
Good news: Longer days.
Does it even out? Hmmmmmm.
My wife, true love and proofreader is of the opinion that this issue of the Bicyclical should come with a minor warning: much information is contained herein.
February is definitely a time of great anticipation. People are signing up for races, making plans, working out, getting ready. Some folks are very upfront with their goals while some of us hide them like state secrets. It’s all just fantastic.
Please please please don’t get caught up in the first-warm-day-of-spring-and-my-bike-needs-a-tuneup frenzy. Please! Go ahead and bring that sucker in right now! We’ll get you ready to go for spring with no dreadful waiting around.
The Big News
Pedal will purchase Breakaway Bicycles on Romence Road in early March. This is a very big, thrilling development for Pedal.  It is my goal and good fortune to continue the traditions of excellent workmanship and service that Paul and Co. have earned over the years.
Related to this announcement, people approximately my age with experience in Corporate America might wonder if I’ll use the term synergy. I cannot deny the temptation.
Over the past few years our shop ride has grown more than I could have imagined. What fun! We’ve recently come to the conclusion that we could use a few good ride leaders — folks who can show up every week, reinforce our emphasis on politeness and safety and, frankly, keep the group in group cycling. If this sounds like something that might appeal to you, please let me know. Yes: Pedal will compensate you for your work.
Pedal needs people! If you or someone you know would be a great bike mechanic, salesperson or back office clerk for Pedal this spring/summer/beyond, we’d like to talk. Our employment application can be found here. The three things we look for most: timeliness, hustle, coachability.
KATS (Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study), the planning group for the urban Kalamazoo area, has asked for public input on their Metro Transportation Plan for the next five and twenty years. Should you wish to provide such input, here’s a handy link. Curious about KATS? Find out more here.
Fun Things
Wow. First of February and we already get to start thinking about fun things to do on bicycles.
This fat bike race series is still underway. It is my considered opinion that this is substantially more fun than time on the trainer.
March 8th is Melting Mann! It’s back and badder than ever. This year the races are slightly longer at 21 and 32 miles, and the start/finish area moved out of the field and into Vandalia. Race details are here, and a nice map of this year’s course is here. But wait! There’s more! Our friends at Kona, in conjunction with our other friends at Central District Cyclery in GR, donated a sweet 2015 Kona Rove AL that’ll be raffled off at MM.
And just twenty short days later is Barry Roubaix. You and 2,999 of your best friends can do this. It’s a fun, challenging event suitable for the hard-core racer and the person just looking to get on the bike and have some fun early in the season. Bang!
Kalamazoo Bike Week is May 9th through the 17th and features such fun things as:
– The Kal-Haven Trail Blazer on the 9th. Wanna ride out to South Haven? Or back? Or both? This is a great opportunity.
– The Kalamazoo Bicycle Film Festival is the 12th.
– Bike Camp, a marvelous introduction to road biking put on by our friends at the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club, begins with orientation on May 13th and a first ride on the 16th. Maybe you’re road bike curious. Maybe your friend is. It doesn’t matter: this stuff is good.
Bike Week is still in the planning stages, and a full calendar will be available shortly. Many will be the opportunities to ride your bike and have some fun.
May 16th is the Zoo-de-Mackinac. Some folks do this ride every year, and it’s not hard to see why: it’s an absolutely lovely tour from Boyne Highlands to Mackinaw City. Not a race! There are also instances in which not a whole lot of road bike etiquette is on display from many participants. Still, it’s beautiful. Trillium everywhere.
More? Sure. There’s so very much more. Tour de Taylor on June 13th. Lots of triathlon and multisport all summer.
Big Finish
2015 promises to be very interesting for Pedal. We step into this new year with much on our plate and big plans, but you, our customer, remain our highest and foremost priority. I invite you on this journey with us and hope you like what you see. As always, I welcome your feedback.
Away we go!

Your Pedal Bicyclical – Wintry Mix

If ever there was a meteorological term that strikes crud into the heart of a cyclist, it has to be “wintry mix,” the perfect storm of wet skin and slick roads. Yuck.
Wintry mix aside, welcome to 2015!
Beer Week! Let’s kick off Kalamazoo Beer Week at Boatyard Brewing with a fundraiser for Open Roads. Check out the syntactical density of that sentence! Let’s break it down: From 4-7 on Saturday January 10th, we’ll have beer, fun and (!!!!!) fat bike drag races at Boatyard Brewing. Come on down with your friends and toss a couple of shekels into the kitty for Open Roads. Fun!
Looks like this fat bike thing is taking off. If you have one and are looking for something to do, check out the Michigan Fat Bike Racing Series. I did the first race and lived. Truthfully, I lived and had fun.
Dirt/Gravel/Unimproved Road Racing:
  • Fun? Yes.
  • Accessible? Yes.
  • Expensive? No.
  • Cold? Sometimes.
  • Fun? Still fun.
We’re lucky to have two really good races nearby, Melting Mann and Barry Roubaix. Both are open for registration and are worth a look. Hey! We’re happy to answer any questions you might have w/r/t these races. Information is power!
Short and sweet, that’ll be this month’s Bicyclical, and perhaps it’ll be 2015’s winter. Believe it or not, this January marks Pedal’s fourth anniversary. How time flies! Oh! how much we’ve enjoyed getting to know you and, hopefully, helping you with whatever it is that you need from your bike shop. I can’t thank you enough for your support and patronage. Please let me know what we can do better.
Happy New Year!


Right around Thanksgiving we brought in a new fat bike from KHS, largely because it looked like Kona might have underestimated demand for the 2015 Wo. Things we like about the KHS 3000 include:

  • The price: $2200.
  • The spec: 2×10 SRAM drivetrain with hydraulic brakes
  • The bigness: 100mm wide rims and 4.8″ tires


People come into the shop, see a fat bike and ask, “What are these things for?” They’re for anything. Snow. Sand. A quick trip to the bank. I like the way KHS calls their fat bikes Four Season Bikes. You can do everything you’ve always done on a bike (perhaps more slowly, perhaps with more panache) plus ride in deep snow in the winter and sand in the summer.


Watching fat bikes evolve over the last few years has been interesting. Gone (one can only hope) are the days of trying to make a cobbled-together frame/drivetrain/fat tire combo work acceptably. Now we have symmetrical frames, lots of cogs in the back and really wide bottom brackets and rear hub spacing, all of which combine to make the whole bike more refined and functionally better.


A rather recent development is the tubeless fat bike rim. Removing the big tube from a fat bike wheel/tire combo saves you about a pound of rotating mass — per wheel. That’s a big deal. We tried to make the KHS tubeless, but the stock rim just isn’t designed for such a thing; it would burp a little sealant every time we rode it with vigor. We could probably make it work, but doing so represents a return of the kludgy fat bike and would likely negate the weight savings we sought. All of this brings out the double-edged sword of fat bike tubeless: the tubeless ready rim that allows you to save weight also makes it very difficult (sometimes hugely difficult) to remove the tire from the rim.


On a lark I decided to race the KHS 3000 last Saturday at Ft. Custer for the first race of the 2015 Michigan Fat Bike Series. I quickly discovered that the bike will, in fact, fit in the back of a modern hatchback/dogmobile. Barely. Race day morning I installed pedals, guessed at the saddle height and put some air in the tires, enough to get the front tire to steer and to keep the rear tire from being too bouncy.


And then I’m racing a completely unfamiliar bike. What fun!

It’s like mountain biking, but different. The traction is incredible. I was constantly yelling (internally and externally) at myself to stay off the brakes. To the surprise of no one, there is a lot of inertia in those big wheels and tires. Keep ‘em spinning and things go pretty well. Let ‘em slow down (going up a hill, for instance) and you’ll pay for it later. Such is the way of things with wheels, but fat bikes exaggerate the extremes quite a lot.

I tried to talk a buddy of mine into doing the race with me. He said, “Racing fat bikes is dumb!” Though it may be kinda silly to ride a bike made for snow on frozen dirt, it sure as heck beats riding the trainer for an hour. I’m pretty anxious to try another one once the snow arrives.

A Trip to the Armory

Few would argue that Zipp is regarded as the premier brand of aerodynamic wheel. They’re *everywhere*: on many pro cyclocross bikes, many pro tour road bikes and of course the #1 brand of wheel at the Ironman Championship in Kona, year in and year out.


I was recently invited to tour Zipp’s Indianapolis manufacturing facility, which is located alongside parent company SRAM’s worldwide distribution center. Also residing in this building are engineers, marketing personnel, support persons and SRAM’s dealer support people. The latter answer the phone when dealers like Pedal need assistance figuring out what might be wrong with a fork/brake/component. It’s a rather new building and looks hip and efficient inside and out.

More than one person told the story of Zipp’s inception. In 1988 Leigh Sargent saw a Mavic disc wheel, an aluminum beast that weighed about six pounds. Sargent was a race car composites fabricator and immediately built a 1400 gram wheel of carbon fiber with a Nomex honeycomb core. He took his creation to Interbike, the North American bicycle trade show, where he was told that they looked too fragile. The story I heard was that he laid one wheel flat across two chairs, stood on it for the duration of the show and talked about his wheel. Since then, Zipp has done a lot of neat things: the disk, a tri spoke front wheel, a carbon beam bike, carbon cranks and of course deep section spoked wheels.

Zipp carbon wheels are still produced in the USA. Layup occurs in Indianapolis and hubs are made in nearby Marysville. Carbon is from Hitachi, travels to California where it in impregnated with resin and then makes its way to Indy. The resin cures — sometimes quickly, sometimes over the course of days — at room temperature, so the carbon sheets are kept in a huge freezer in the factory. Many, many dollars worth of carbon are in the fridge, prepaid in cash well in advance of delivery. Can you say capital intensive?

Sheets of carbon are cut on a huge table by a computer-guided Xacto knife. At this point, the process forks: disks are made one way, and deep-section spoked wheels another. Zipp and SRAM would no doubt spank my bottom if I divulged too much information, but suffice to say that there is a LOT of human interaction with a carbon Zipp wheel. Layup is manual. Cleaning up the rim at various stages of the process is manual. Cleaning the molds is manual. Lacing the wheels is 100% manual. All of the quality control is manual. Hours — tens of hours — of human interaction are imbedded in each wheel. Why do they cost so much? Because the material is expensive, the human expense is high, the R&D is expensive, etc.

Every carbon Zipp wheel has interaction with “the drill bit,” which is the culmination of years and years worth of research and constant improvement. Drilling carbon is a tricky business: there’s the nasty dust, the possibility of heating the carbon matrix and ruining it, the possibility of weak, broken carbon fibers. Zipp’s fancy bit has what they call a world patent; it is Zipp’s and Zipp’s alone, and is a tool that they credit in part for their superior product. Cool stuff, and indicative of Zipp’s dedication to (I almost wrote excellence, but what a bullshit corporate-speak term “excellence” has become. Instead, I’ll say that Zipp is dedicated to) awesomeness — to really solving the heck out of a problem.

I saw the test lab and can confirm that the quality is also very high. How long must the hubs last on the fatigue machine? 60,000 miles. How high are test tires inflated? 300 psi for 30 seconds. Many are the pretty incredible tests that random wheels plucked from the line must endure. Competitors’ wheels are also tested. My hosts tactfully avoided smearing anyone, but I did learn that Zipps wheels endure quite a bit more than some others.

During the tour I saw a few wheels marked as blems and asked what happened to them (thinking, perhaps, I might have stumbled onto an inexpensive source for hightest-quality carbon wheels). Alas (for a sometime tightwad such as myself), those make up many of the wheels you see on pro tour bikes. However this blem conversation did bring up a good point. When you examine a carbon Zipp wheel, you’re looking at the carbon — not the carbon and a clear coat and certainly not carbon with a little black bondo to cover any pinholes — the real deal.

Value is such a personal assessment, the weighing of cost versus benefit. The high price of Zipp’s offerings can be off-putting, but the high price of a Mercedes-Benz or a Stihl chainsaw can also seem crazy to those not interested in high-end German cars or lumberjacking, respectively. I came away from my factory tour with a much greater appreciation for the hand-built nature of the product, the hight cost of materials and the technical superiority of Zipp’s wheels. In the past I always thought of Zipp’s wheels as high quality, but not a particularly good value. Now…well, now I think I could possibly see a pair of these things on one of my bikes.

Your Pedal Bicyclical – Festivus Edition

Winter is here, and I already feel a bit wistful for 2014. So let’s pull a chair by the fireplace, grab a good book and hunker down for a few months of cycle-unfriendly weather. This is a great time to recharge the batteries, to perhaps catch up on some projects around the house that were put off during the warm months, to maybe get a little more sleep during these long nights, to certainly reminisce about the wonderful year we had. What a bittersweet time of year.

A sage FOTS (friend of the shop) said that a seventy year old man who lived his whole life in southern California has a very different mindset than a seventy year old man who lived his whole life in Michigan. I’m sure this is true, and while I’m sure there is a lot to say for CA, give me this. Give me change. Give me the joy of summer.

In my humble opinion, fall went out with a bang. Iceman was nothing if not an experience. Oh! the stories told around the shop. Fantastic. In the event you haven’t seen it, I present a beautiful photo-montage of Iceman. My fingers and toes get cold just looking at it.

The local cyclocross scene just ended, and our Markin Glen race was very close to perfect. Cold. Snow. Mud. Sand. Friends. I’ll probably beat this drum to my dying day, but cyclocross is for everyone. Many, many thanks to our friends who help make Kalamazoo cyclocross possible. In particular ParchmentKalamazoo County ParksRunUp Cylcocross and KissCross have been wonderful partners in our endeavors.

Around the Shop

Yes! Yes, yes, yes. We have all kinds of doodads for your cycling friend/lover/spouse/boss/penpal. Things like a bottle opener for your work stand (increases productivity -20%), actual work stands (from which you can also hang helmets and laundry), a really neat long-sleeve flannel emblazoned with your favorite shop’s name (increases productivity by +/- 5%), clothing (increases warmth and/or hip factor), bikes (woah!), sunglasses that are actually (not) too cool for (grad) school. All ilk of things to support the tree or stuff the stocking.

Yeah. We’re working on the fat bike ride. At night. In the cold, cold air. Our trail day at Blanche Hull was quite successful, despite the fact that the city guys were understandably redirected to work on snow removal. We have but a few logs to cut and we’re all set. A don’t think anyone would be mad if I mentioned that a good number of people ride their fat bikes on Tuesday evenings at Al Sabo. Also: trail grooming at Yankee. Good, good stuff.

Holiday fiesta! Let’s get together at the shop from 5-7 on Friday, December 12th. We’ll have a cooler of beer and soft drinks, some foodstuffs and conversation out the wazoo. I know it’s short notice, but we’d love to see your smiling face and wish you a wonderful time of year.

Signal to Noise
I once enjoyed (?) huge amounts of unstructured time in front of a computer monitor, and I would occasionally fill that time looking at the internet. I know: crazy. While I spend a whole lot less time on the internet these days, here are some sites that I sometimes use to while away the cold winter hours:
  • All Hail the Black Market. What a strange name. What does it mean? Am I too old for this? Does that guy have a job? Who cares? It’s pretty darn fun and the author is a groovy guy with an interesting take on life.
  • Red Kite Prayer. Road bikey at its heart but with a pretty awesome MTB article on occasion, I’ve found this site to have good writing and good purpose, if perhaps a bit advertorial at times. Regardless, I kinda keep an eye on this one.
  • Some people love Fat Cyclist. I am not one of those people. I keep trying, but it doesn’t take. Maybe it’s for you.
  • The Radavist is pretty cool. I’m actually not sure if I like this site or not, but there is absolutely no denying this piece of apres-garde filmmaking, which I found on The Radavist.
  • Bike Snob NYC is indeed a cultural touchpoint. Pretty funny much of the time, too.
  • Lovely Bicycle! is focused on light touring (classic!) and handmade bikes. I kinda like it, though it can sound like an echo chamber at times. Not unlike this very newsletter.
  • Bicycle Graphic Design is right up my alley. So is Eleanor.
Things to Do on Your Bike

It does seem crazy to start talking about spring races, but why not? Things kick off in 2015 with Melting Mannon March 8th. It was a cold, icy, crazy mess last year. I’m curious to see what happens this time around. Registration is open.

Registration is also open for Barry Roubaix. Cross bike, mountain bike or fat bike, there’s a category and distance for you. Great, great experiences are available at the BR.

For those wishing to spend a good deal of quality time on a mountain bike saddle, the Lumberjack 100 is just what the doctor ordered. Registration for that beast opens on January 3.

Big Finish

As I was bumbling around looking up links for some of the above, I happened across this wry cartoon. The cartoon resonated (woah! corporate marketing word alert!) with me because I often tell people in the shop that the bikes we sell aren’t the end-game. The thing we hope you achieve on your bike is a wonderful experience, be it with your friends, alone in the woods, during a race or as the result of an unexpected incident on an otherwise normal ride.

As we look toward 2015 with memories of a fantastic year and high hopes for the future, I wish you a  holiday season of  wonderful, memorable experiences with family and friends.