Gobble Gobble Bicyclical

Happy Thanksgiving!

Everyone’s favorite turkey-flavored holiday is so close to the end of the month that I thought I’d publish the Best Bike Shop Newsletter on Romence Road a few days early.

Pedal will be closed on Black Friday, and we invite you to ride with us at 11:00am from Texas Drive Park. We’ll have routes of 34 and 22 miles. The forecast calls for brisk — not frigid — temperatures, so it should be a fun and festive ride. You can grab details and the routes here.

We’re back in action on Saturday. I’m not exactly sure how to couch this, so I’ll just wade in and hope for the best. Pedal has always been a value-oriented business. I want Pedal to provide the same service every day, and I think our pricing should be equally consistent. In the greater world of retail, mine is minority thinking. In the world of omni-channel retail (which is, for instance, Specialized selling stuff through Pedal and also on their website), my thinking is *very* much in the minority, and I am not always in charge. This is a long introduction to this fact: several of Pedal’s vendors will offer you a big discount over the next few days. In some cases, Pedal will offer you the same deal. In others, we will offer you a similar but not identical deal. I’m not trying to be overly vague about this stuff, but there are lots of rules about what you can say and when you can say it, and I like to play by the rules.

Is that enough business talk? I hope so.

Who loves a holiday party? Pedal does. Please join us at the Downtown shop on Friday December 13th from 5:30 – 9:00 for food, drink and holiday cheer. We’ll have a great time and hope to see you there. 

Please! Please consider getting your bike serviced now instead of waiting for the first warm weekend in Spring. We have mechanics who are ready to go and a very nice service special this winter. Now is great! You can put your bike on the rack without spraying snow all over it. The service special is on through the end of January.

TwoThree Four things about bike riding:

  • We have a few more spinning spots available at the Downtown shop. We’ll spin Monday and Thursday evenings at 6:00pm starting Monday, December 2nd. You’ll need a bike, a trainer and $175. Price includes a winter service special on the bike of your choice. Call the Downtown shop at 269-567-3325 to sign up.
  • Rather ride at home? We have four (count ’em!) rides happening on Zwift through the week. Check it out here
  • Frosted Fat Tire is happening again this year. Grab some buddies, form a team, give it a good name and get signed up. It happens on January 12th.This
  • I think, is worth a few minutes of your life. I’ve become a huge fan of Lael Wilcox over the past few months.

Ohmigosh. I think that’ll do it. Pedal is thankful, and we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Sincerely,

Tim

Your Pumpkin Spice Bicyclical

Hello, and happy All Saints Day,Good speed and fortune to the hearty souls racing Iceman in uncertain weather tomorrow.

Go go go!It’s back! The Pedal Winter Service Special, now through the end of January. It’s a thorough, get-your-bike-ready-for-next-season service including a drivetrain cleaning for the low, low price of $87. If you want your bearings overhauled, we’ll do that for an additional $50 (a $75 value). Questions? Give us a holler or shoot me an email

Let’s spin! Our tradition of indoor spinning continues this year. We’ll have a coach, workouts, zesty music, esprit de corps (or is it Stockholm Syndrome?) and optional refreshments at the corner watering hole. You need a trainer, a bicycle, iron will (not really) and $175US. In exchange you get a solid three months of training and a Winter Service for the bicycle of your choice. Space is large but limited. Signup starts at 11:00 this Tuesday, November 5th at the Downtown shop. You can do it in person at 611 W. Michigan Avenue or via your telecommunications device at 269-567-3325. Operators will be standing by.

Perhaps you’ve become addicted to Zwift. Let’s say that you’d like to ride with some of your IRL friends in Wattopia. Pedal has some Zwifters, and they’re setting up group rides for the winter.

  • Ryan will ride on Mondays at 6:00pm
  • J’Son will ride on Wednesdays at 7:30pm
  • Smooth Matt will ride on Saturday morning at 7:30a

How do you do this? Follow the ride leader(s) of your choice, and they’ll invite you for a ride of approximately one hour each week. We workshopped this last spring, and it’s great. Yes, it might take a little bit of getting used to, but it’s good. Your ride leaders are pictured below. Oh! Need a smart trainer? We can help with that.

It’s become something of a tradition. We’ll be closed on Black Friday and will do our Turkey Burner Ride instead. Meet us at Texas Drive Park for an 11:00am mixed-surface ride (that means, bring something you’d ride on a dirt road). We’ll have routes of 34 and 22 miles. ALL ARE WELCOME! Afterwards we’ll enjoy a traditional post-Thanksgiving feast of salad and water (not really) at Zeb’s just down the road. (Egregious aside: I recently learned how to load routes on my GPS bike computer so I don’t have to reference a piece of paper deteriorating in my pocket every time I come to an intersection. What was I waiting for? This technology is fantastic!) Here are routes for the Long and Short routes. I hope we’ll see you there.

Speaking of holiday shopping, we’ve all been there: you want to show your special person that they occupy the really prime real estate in your heart — yet you don’t want to spend a pile of money. Pedal to the rescue! We’ve collected a big ol’ bunch of super-sweet custom-designed Pedal T shirts and put one in a hand-stamped Pedal bag along with… something else. We’ll sell you this bag o’ awesome for five bucks plus tax. That’s right: $5.30 gets you a sweet shirt, a custom paper bag suitable for re- or upcycling AND… something else. What if your sweetie doesn’t like it? Too bad! Your love is pure, but chance does indeed play a role in the shirt and… something else. Also true: if you’d rather, we’ll help you pick out the perfect bike for your sweet thing. And anything in between. Bags o’ Awesome will be ready for purchase starting Monday, November 4th.

Got a few minutes to spare? If you haven’t yet, please consider taking the Places for Bikes Community Survey. It’s good stuff that can help towns like ours figure out where to direct their resouces to make cycling better.

It’s still a few weeks off, but this is the last Bicyclical before Thanksgiving, and I want to say that Pedal is grateful. We’re happy to be in Kalamazoo and Portage. We’re happy to serve you. We’re lucky to know you. Thank you, sincerely, for choosing us. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sincerely,
Tim

Your Pedal Bicyclical

Hello!

May was just about fantastic. We went on lots of great rides and met lots of neat people. Thanks for hanging out with us and enjoying the unexpectedly wonderful weather.

We had opportunity to enjoy an escorted ride around the Maple Hill Trail at Markin Glen last week, and I’m here to tell you that we’re going to have a terrific time when it opens — and it hasn’t. So please, please, please don’t make the mountain biking community look like jerks by banditing the trail. It’ll be open soon, and we’ll all have big fun. Thank you for your patience.

Speaking of the Maple Hill Trail at Markin Glen, we are SUPER STOKED to host the Kona demo truck on July 2nd. Please stay tuned to our Events page for details.

Under the threat of rain and overall meh weather, Erin hosted a leisurely ride last Saturday morning from the Romence shop. And a couple of people actually showed up! We’re going to try something similar THIS Saturday, but more toward the downtown shop. Full data is here.

Are you frustrated with your road pedals? I’ve had a pair of Time Expresso (a name I don’t love) on my bike for just over a month, and I’m fairly amazed by the ease of clipping in and out. Time mountain bike pedals have been a favorite for many of us for years. Yeah. We’ve got ’em in the shop. Plus, have you had bike troubles and need to get places faster than normally. I´ve seen these e-scooters all over town and they are actually pretty good and use the best scooter wheels in the market so they’re pretty safe also. I´m surprised that they are fairly economic and they last very long before you have to charge them again. Look for yourself and see they amazing deals.

Remember when there was only Garmin GPS? More are the options these days, and we have a few of ’em. Sure, we still have Garmin. But we also have nifty computers from Lezyne and Wahoo.

When the Quarq Shockwiz came out, we grabbed one for each shop. What’s it do? It connects to your air suspension (fork or shock) and measures the living heck out of it while you’re riding. After it collects a sufficient amount of data, it’ll tell you how to better tune your suspension. Note that Shockwiz does not actually speak, it records the data and communicates its findings through an app on your smartphone. Here’s the deal: we’ll rent you a Shockwiz for $50, and you can assess your suspension tune. Please call the shop of your choice to reserve one.

Recurring Events
Mountain Bike Monday. It’s fun! It’s for everyone!

Tuesday night is the Pedal Women’s Ride from the Romance shop. Riders meet in the parking lot around 5:45 with the ride starting at six. The best way to keep up with this is the KBC Facebook page.

Thursday shop road ride!

Many are the KBC rides.

Fun Adventures on the Horizon
We got letter from reader last month who asked that I say a little something about the Battle Creek Ice Cream Century. Looks like fun, and it involves ice cream.

Holy Smokes! This Sunday is the Race for Wishes! There’s a lot of neat stuff this year, and it’s totally worth a look.

Tour de Taylor is coming up fast. This is a great tour of the roads around Mattawan, with super support and a great cause. June 10th is the day. 8:00 is the time. Fun is the game.

Have you heard the siren song of the open road? Our man Jim Kindle has, and he’d be more than happy to share what he’s learned with any interested parties on the evening of June 13th. More data here.

While I don’t have official artwork, posters, marketing collateral, etc. to share at this moment, I will say that we’re having a “thing” with SWMMBA and Bell’s on Father’s Day. We’re gonna meet at Bell’s, ride to the Maple Hill Trail at Markin Glen, ride around a bit, come back to Bell’s and, as I understand it, have a really great time.

So much is going on the following weekend. We’ve got a repeat of Erin’s social ride from the Romence shop. We’ve got the Gull Lake Triathlon, which is always a good time. And, because I like starting a sentence with a preposition, we’ve got the Kal-Tour the following day.

A Year Gone
It seems unreal — as in not possibly real — that a year has passed since nine of our friends, neighbors and fellow cyclists were run over. Next week there’s a fundraiser at Arcadia on the 6th and a Memorial Ride on the 7th. Like many of you, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I think about this, and it’s difficult. I’m very sad. Angry. Frustrated. I’m also super impressed by the outpouring of support and love from so many aspects of our community. We live in a good place populated by good people.

Big Finish
After a long herky-jerky spring, it looks like Summer is here. I, for one, am ready. Bring on the sunsreen, the bug spray, the second water bottle. I look forward to seeing you in the shop, on the road, at the trail or at an event. And I wish you the maximum amount of fun.

Sincerely,
Tim

Your Bike Month Bicyclical

Hi!
Gird yourself! Lots of data this time around.
First thing, I’d like to ask a favor. Go out to the garage and check out the blinky light on the back of your road bike. Is it bright? Does it point behind you, or at your rear tire? Does it need new batteries? I’ve been on a few group rides lately, and it’s AMAZING how much easier it is to notice a bike with a bright, well-positioned rear light.
I love this review of one of our favorite bikes. If you’re not the link-clicking type, you might miss this bit of videoreferenced in said review. Very fun.
Perhaps May should be renamed Bicycle. It’s National Bicycle Month. Friday the 19th is National Bike to Work day. The week of the 13th through 21st is Kalamazoo Bike Week. There’s a TON going on, and I’d like to recap some of it. When you want to know different types of electric bikes, visit http://www.hobbynitro.net/ for more info.
Recurring Events
This Month
  • The Fort Custer Stampede is this Sunday, May 7th. I write this newsletter prior to the expected Big Deluge of 2017, but the trails have been in fantastic shape. Should be a very nice race weekend.
  • Bike week kicks off with the Trailblazer, a ride of many stripes which benefits the Friends of the KRVT. Good stuff.
  • Bike Camp begins with classroom instruction on May 11th with rides on subsequent Saturday mornings.
  • We’re holding a nifty event on Monday the 15th — a ride from Texas Corners Brewery. There are three routes of varying lengths and speeds, so surely there’s something right up your alley.
  • Tuesday the 16th is movie night at Bell’s. Always a good time.
  • Wednesday the 17th is the Ride of Silence. We’re very proud to sponsor this event and welcome all interested parties.
  • We’re doing something different for the Pedal ride on the 18th. Let’s ride up to Plainwell, relax for a minute or two and ride home. We did this last summer and it was pretty darn fun. Note: bring your front and rear lights.
  • National Bike to Work day is the 19th. Should you bike to work that day, stop by either Pedal location to spin the wheel for a prize.
  • These and other Kalamazoo Bike Week event details can conveniently be found at kalamazoobikeweek.com
A Little Further in the Future
  • Tour de Taylor is June 10th. This is an exceedingly well done local tour (tour = not a race. Most folks ride road bikes, often with friends new and old. It can be purely social. It can be a challenge. Make of it what you will.) that benefits Michigan Make a Wish. We’re super happy to be involved with this event and encourage you to give it a go.
  • June 24th brings the Gull Lake Triathlon. This year it’s sprint-distance only, but will feature a tri, a du and aquabike. Boom!
  • One day later (that’s June 25th) is Kal Tour, another outstanding, well-supported trip through the local countryside.

Big Finish

Hey! Thanks. Thanks for your business and your support. We’re super stoked to serve you. If there’s something we need to do or need to do better, please let me know.
I wish you much great riding.
Sincerely,
Tim

Small Batch Pedal Bicyclical

Hello!

Wanna hear something crazy? We’re 25% of the way through 2017. The good news is that the remaining 75% is the good stuff. There’s a lot to talk about this month, so I’ll try to keep my loquacious self in check.

Never is a word that’ll often cause problems. When I started Pedal I swore up, down and sideways that we’d never engage in e-commerce. And today I’m happy (if a tad sheepish) to introduce http://shop.pedalbicycle.com Why? Because I now think people — local people, you — expect to see inventory online. And now you can. I wanna be super clear about this part of things: we’re dipping our toe in the online world to be a better LOCAL bike shop. And we’ve just started this: the site went live on Thursday evening. If you see anything flaky, please let me know.

Ryan recently became aware of a nifty wheel company out of South Carolina. Boyd, the namesake of the company, does the design and his wife runs the operational end of things. These wheels ring all the bells: road, mountain, carbon, aluminum, tubeless-compatible, colorful decals, hub options. We have a few pair in stock and, of course, access to everything else.

Maybe a chilly, damp April day isn’t the best time to bring this up, but we’re renting bikes at the downtown shop. Got a friend in town and you’d like to cruise the KRVT or hit up some brew pubs or whatever? Give us a cal: 269-567-3325.

It had been my intention to wait until we had hardware to show, but since I only post this fish wrap once a month and the stuff should be here imminently, I’ll announce that we’re Kalamazoo’s new Moots dealer. We are S U P E R stoked to offer the finest titanium bikes in the world.

So the good news about the, ahem, variable weather we’ve had the past few weeks is that our service departments are not yet bursting at the seams. If you’re thinking about servicing your bike, now is the time. If you’re remembering that thing that wasn’t working quite right in the fall and you meant to get your bike in but didn’t quite make it to the shop, now is the time. Make no mistake, we’re always happy to work on your bike, but right now the turnaround time is about as short as it’s gonna be all year. Questions? Give us a call. Downtown: 269-567-3325. Romence Road: 269-324-5555. Appointments are definitely an option.

Is it the April showers? Maybe May flower anticipation? Whatever the reason (likely: good sense) there aren’t too many cycling events on the calendar for April. An outlier is the Yankee Springs Time Trial on April 23rd. It’s a fun challenging event, a good fundraiser for WMMBA and a nice test of your (ummmm) early season fitness, although if you what you want is actually just to burn fat, an ultrasonic cavitation machine could be a better solution for specific parts of the body.

Kalamazoo Bike Club road rides are happening now. Note that rides start at 6:00 in April.

Moving into May, things heat up a lot.

I can’t say enough good things about Bike Camp. If you’re new to road riding or coming back after several years away from the bike, Kalamazoo Bicycle Club’s Bike Camp is a great primer on the ways and mores of riding on the road. Maybe it’s just what you need. Maybe a friend would like to know more. Regardless, the 411 is here.

Bike week! Get your Kalamazoo Bike Week!

During bike week Pedal is pleased and honored to host the area’s Ride of Silence. Wednesday nights in May are full of alternate activities, but if you can spring free, it would be great to see and ride with you. The event is at 6:30 on May 17th.

The Stampede is the biggest fundraiser for our local mountain bike organization, SWMMBA. And! It’s fun! You can have fun stampeding! On your mountain bike! At Ft. Custer! So many exclamation points! And fun!

What about the Pedal ride? We’re good to go if the weather cooperates. Thursdays, 6:15 start at the downtown shop. Based on the current weather outlook, this week does not look good. Look at The Book or call us if you have questions.

There was this one time I participated in the Zoo de Mack with my family and friends, and it was lots of fun. Perhaps this is just the thing you’ve been thinking of, but didn’t know existed.

And that, friends, is enough for this installment. Thank you. We’re happy to know you. We’re happy to serve you. We’re super happy when we can ride with you. Please be safe and have fun.

Sincerely,

Tim

Your December Bicyclical

Hello!

December? Holy smokes!

That concise email of last month will stand in stark contrast to the information density contained herein. I invite you to pour another glass of eggnog, grab a seat by the fire and read along.

Ride All Year (code name: RAY) is something a friend and I have been working on for a few months. It’s a subscription of four Pedal t-shirts, one for each season, with the first (winter-themed) shipping in late January. Price: $110 if you pick ‘em up at the store and $130 for us to ship ‘em anywhere in the US of A. Yes! We *will* give you a nifty certificate that you can give your sweet someone for Christmas — or any other holiday you like between now and January 1, 2017, at which point we need to corral the orders and get stuff printed. When possible we’re going to use USA-made shirts and are printing them locally with a company that has always done great stuff for us. Note that this is the ONLY way you can get your hands on these particular designs. Yeah: members only. We have also partnered with luggageforward for our bike shipping service, learn more at https://www.luggageforward.com/bike-shipping-service/.

Make some room on that party calendar! Holiday Party this year at Pedal South (185 Romence Road, Portage, MI 49007) on December 16, starting at 5:00. Have a beer. Have a slice. Unlimited high fives available. We’d love to see you. <3 2 C U. Yeah.

This is sort of important, so let’s do it again. Please won’t you join us for a little socialization at Pedal South on Friday, December 16th, starting at 5:00? We’re always looking for a chance to get together with our friends and customers and hope we’re not too late to get on your dance card. We’ll supply drinks and pizza. You supply your charming self.

Pedal’s Winter Service Special is happening right now. Please oh please won’t you let us work on your bike now, when you need it less? We’d like you, dear customer, to avoid the inevitable summer blues of a backed-up service department. Now through the end of January you can get an incredibly thorough service on your bike for the super-dirt-cheap price of $90. Come on down! Qualified mechanics are standing by. Sweet Wife proofread this email and asked, “How much am I saving if I take advantage of this servcie, Tim?” You will realize nine ten-dollar bills of savings should you take us up on the Winter Service Special.

Speaking of service, perhaps you’d like to learn how to do your bike’s service on your own. Matt J. and Ryan are hosting two sessions (of four classes each) of Tune Up University in January. It’s good stuff. Space is limited. You can learn more here.

We’re doing Saturday mornings in Portage a little bit differently this year. Starting January 7th we’ll have either yoga or pilates at 10:00 at the Romence Road shop. Cost is $12 for a single visit, or $40 for a 4-visit punch card. We’re super lucky to have competent instruction by Erin from Down Dog Yoga Center and Amy from The Pilates Studio. More details and a specific schedule here.

I know what you’ve been thinking: “Man, would I ever like a Neighborhood Fat Bike Day.” Buddy, we’ve got something way better than that. I’m talking Global Fat Bike Day, and it happens this Saturday, December 3. Why don’t you bring that fat bike out to Yankee Springs for a ride at 11:00 with some like-minded people? We’ll be there, so you’re sure to know somebody. Refreshments after, natch.

Speaking of fat bikes and riding fat bikes and fun fun fun till your daddy took the fat bike away, our main man J’Son will host a weekly ride through Al Sabo (or wherever else whim might lead) each Wednesday evening starting December 7th . We’ll meet up at Texas Drive Park at 6:00, ride some amount of time, then (most likely) retire to a nearby watering hole to warm up and tell tall tales. All are welcome!

And for the fat bike trifecta, how about a fat bike race in Ft. Custer on December 17th! Maybe it’ll snow by then and maybe it won’t. Regardless, except for that one crash, I’ve had a great time at this race the past two years. You can learn more and sign up here.

I recently had the good fortune to chat with the organizers of Melting Mann, and I just started yammering on about how much I love the race. It’s local. It’s mellow (you know, for bike racing). It’s good fun for darn near anybody. “Heck,” I finally blurted, “All you need is a bike, a down jacket and a little bit of grit.” So there you go. Fun times in Cass County in the early spring. Put it on the calendar.

Is anyone surprised that “Breaking Away” is our survey’s most popular movie to watch on the trainer? Second place was “The Godfather.” Third place was a tie between a whole bunch of movies with one vote each. Interesting selections included “The Sound of Music” and “A League of their Own.” Some people demand less adrenaline inducement from their movies than me.

Let’s hear it for Kalamazoo and Portage for enacting laws requiring motorists to give cyclists five feet of room when passing. Distracted driving is a terrible, pernicious problem, and it’s nice to see leaders in our local communities drafting legislation to keep their citizenry safe. Bravo!

I find it a little bit difficult to believe that it’s just about time to ring in a new year. 2016 was pretty darn great and full of accomplishment. Jim rode across America. Ryan had a son *and* grew an impressive, if temporary, moustache. Gabe and Matt Adkins quietly had a rather incredible bike-packing adventure. J’Son set Iceman on fire with his speedy time. Jess taught me a lot about mountain biking technique. Those are just some snippets that popped into my head, but it was a good year. What does 2017 bring? Big plans and, hopefully, good execution.

I can’t say this enough: we’re local. You’re our people, and we’re lucky to have you. Thank you for your business, your trust, your friendship, your advice. We wish you glad tidings in this joyous season and look forward to a wonderful 2017 together.

Sincerely,

Tim

The Newsletter that Makes You Wonder Why You Wonder About It

Hello!

My goodness! What a tremendous Autumn. I hope you’ve had a chance to enjoy it. Everybody around here is talking about how “they” say it’s gonna be a hard, cold winter with lots of snow and blah blah blah. Bring it on. It’s a fair price to pay for the past two months.

A customer asked about spinning a few weeks ago. I asked if he’d like to receive the newsletter, which had all the details. “Man,” said he, “that thing sure is long.” With that in mind, I’ll try to keep from drifting off topic too much this go-round.

So. Sure. Spinning. Signup begins at 11:00 am on 11/7/16 at the downtown shop. $150 gets you spinning two nights a week plus one winter service special. Dang! Spinning is Monday and Thursday evenings, 6:00, beginning December 1st. We have 45 openings, first come, first served.

What? Winter Service Special? You bet. November 1 through February 28. Bring that beautiful bike into the shop and we’ll make it sing. Clean drivetrain. Fresh grease. Round wheels. Perfect shifting and braking. All this can be yours for $90. March is four months away, and already I’m begging you to please avoid the spring service scrum. Let’s get that bike ready to ride for half the price — right now.

On a family trip this summer, I stayed in a neat hotel decorated almost entirely with black and white images of the city — famous buildings, statues, etc. I thought to myself, “Dang. I’d like to do something like that in the shops, but I am (as anyone who has read the Pedal blog can attest) a really terrible photographer.” Since you’re a better photographer than me, let’s have a contest. You put a cool pic of the Kalamazoo area on Instagram with a pedalbicycles tag on there, and we’ll pick the best to print and hang for posterity.

Current weather notwithstanding, trainer season will be upon us soon. What are your five favorite movies to make time pass more quickly? Fill out the survey here, and I’ll post the results next month.

I think I speak for all of us at Pedal when I say that we are lucky to live, work and play in this tremendous place with such wonderful people. Very lucky, indeed. Happy Thanksgiving! I wish you a few moments of reflection, a tasty meal and the company of someone you love.

Sincerely,
Tim

In Like a Lion

February brought us a little bit of everything, some things we wanted and some we maybe could have done without: cold toes on the fat bike, fun dirt road miles on the cross bike, time on the trainer watching the tube, a snowy ride to a bar after work..

Around the Shop

Yoga: you were so much fun and stretch-tastic, but now it’s over. Until next winter. Many thanks to the ever-capable and awesome Erin for leading this effort.

One of our goals for this summer is quicker bike repair turnaround. There are two easy ways you can help us help you. One is to bring your bike in now, before it warms up. We’ll get your repair turned around pronto, and you’ll be on your way to a fun summer. The second is prompt pickup when your repair is complete. The fewer bikes we have to sort through, the faster things progress.

We had a great time at Kalamazoo Parks’ Winter Jamboree at the Milham Golf Course last weekend. It was a fun event on a (thankfully) beautiful day. Lots of folks wanted to try fat bikes, and smiles were everywhere. Big fun.

We’re fired up about the Greater Kalamazoo Women’s Lifestyle Expo this weekend. If you have a chance, please stop by the Expo Center and say howdy. It’s going on Friday from noon to six and Saturday nine to four.

OK. Yes. The first ever Pedal sale is March 12th. Both stores. 10-5.

“What’s new and interesting in cycling?” is a question we hear regularly.

  • The ever-increasing affordability of 1×11 drivetrains continues with the introduction of SRAM’s NX group. Looks pretty darn good.
  • Plus bikes (27.5/650b or 29” mountain bikes with 3” tires) popped up quietly last year and didn’t get much traction (har har) until later in the summer. I think these are great, providing substantial increases in traction without a ton of weight.
  • Electric assist bikes are looking good. I’m not expecting this to go full-Europe (a large percentage of bikes sold in Europe are electric-assist), but I do think they have a place
  • These bigger-tire, disk brake road bikes are incredibly interesting, especially considering the quality of our roads of late. Big tires = less fear of cracks in the road or potholes.

Fun, Energizing Activities

Waterloo Grit and Gravel is March 19th.

What effect will the rescheduling of Melting Mann have on the road conditions? Who knows and, to some extent, who cares? Hard packed dirt, peanut butter mud or sheet of ice, Melting Mann will take place on March 20th down in good old Vandalia. And you could win one of these.

The Barry Roubaix is totally rescheduled as an April race, now held on April 16th. This is the big banana of local gravel races and definitely worth a look.

You there! Mountain biker! Yankee Springs Time Trial is April 24th. I can tell a great story of unpreparedness and getting my butt whooped, but one guy did tell me that I had a sweet bike.

STAMPEDE! May 1st at Fort Custer. This is lots of fun, if you like your fun on dirt single-track with trees rushing by. And it’s not the same day as the marathon, which is nice.

Bike Camp begins on Wednesday evening, May 11th and has sessions on the following four Saturdays. This is good, good stuff if you’d like an introduction to road riding. All of the information you seek can be found here.

Too soon to talk about Tour de Taylor? Nope. June 11th. Rides of 12, 32 and 62 miles. Great event. Good cause. Lots of fun. Sweet new web site, too.

The Ramble

One recent, windy day, I was riding with a friend of mine, and we’d just done a big stretch with the wind at our backs. We had gone really, really fast. “Boy!” exclaimed my friend. “Wouldn’t you like to be able to go 25 mph all the time?”

Another friend of mine and I talk often of balance. Of how you can’t have one thing without giving up another. David Foster Wallace wrote a beautiful essay on Tracy Austin, about how she was so completely, totally focused on professional tennis that she had practically no personality.

Would I like to go 25 mph all the time? I don’t know. Would my friends still like riding with me? Would I notice the hawk in the fields, the combine spraying whatever that is in the bed of a big truck, the flock of turkeys in the woods? Would I notice (not see, notice) the change of seaon?

Whatever the speed, on a bike we are able to see things. We are able to feel things. We are able to have experiences with friends that are oh so temporal, but sometimes so incredibly memorable.

Big Finish

Here we are, right on the cusp of Spring (oddly, I write this in near white-out conditions). We’ve been working hard this winter, and we’re anxious for cycling season to get here so we can share it with you.

Got a thought? A comment? Wanna tell me about something? We’re doing what we think is the right thing. If we’re missing the boat in some fashion, we’d sure like to know about it and correct the situation. Email me if you wish.

Finally, and as alluded to above, we hope very much to earn the title of *your* bike shop.

Sincerely,

Tim

America’s Fourth Best Bike Shop Newsletter

Just like that, a month is gone!

Pedal’s managers and I meet once a week for breakfast and work talk. As I was driving to our meeting/feast last week, WIDR was on the radio, and the DJ was talking about the weather and said something like, “This winter that just won’t end!” Hmmm.

Around the Shop

Thanks to everyone that showed up to demo fat bikes at Boatyard during beer week. It turned out to be a great day for such an activity. We had lots of fun and raised a total of $304 for the Markin Glen trail project.

People with really good memories might recall that the December Bicyclical included a brief survey. I look at these survey results much like I remember looking at letters from companies to which I had applied for jobs in college: very spooked, with potential for both great and awful outcomes. I address some of the survey results here.

We’re taking our act on the road and will be present at the Greater Kalamazoo Women’s Lifestyle Expo on March 4th and 5th. If you have a chance, please stop by the Expo Center and say howdy.

We’re going to try something new (for Pedal, at any rate), and you’re invited: a one-day sale for our customers on March 12th that we’ll advertise only in the Bicyclical. Sure, you can bring a friend or tell your coworker or whatever, but it’s for you. We have some products that need good homes, and on the 12th we’ll see what we can do. So: customer sale on 3/12/16. Both stores. Hope to see you there.

Stuff To Do

These gravel races are popping up like crazy. The latest one to get my attention is the Waterloo Grit and Gravel event on March 19th. More dirt (har har) here.

And the very next day brings us the THIRD Melting Mann race down in good old Vandalia, MI. Yepper, on the 20th of March you can zoom around lots o’ lakes just south of here. It’s been a fun race in years past, and I think the later start date will bring only good things. Check it out! What’s that? You need some sort of inducement? In conjunction with our good buddies at Kona and Central District Cyclery in GR, a Kona Rove AL will be raffled off to some lucky racer.

And now we’re into April, and April 16th brings the Barry Roubaix, which is now so big and cool that the route is marked with special MDOT-approved signage. Sweet! Anyway, good times abound at the BR, regardless of the distance you pick or the pace you race. Just remember: fast dudes and dames like to pass on the left, so good practice is to stay on the right.

Just a few short days afterward is the Yankee Springs Time Trial. Pull out those knobbies and hit the trail!

If we look just a tad further into the future, May 1st is the Custer Stampede. All you folks that’ve spent the last few years missing the stampede because of Borgess Run obligations: you’re unshackled!  Come on out and enjoy a fun day in the woods.

And then it starts to happen in a fast and furious fashion: triathlon, bike tours, bike camp, bike week. Bikey bike bike bike. Fun.

Ramble

Last Saturday night I went to the Kalamazoo Bike Club’s Recovery Party. Fun time. Lovely people. KBC is a very good organization. People in that club do the hard work of talking to politicians and administrators in our community. They speak at community meetings. The work they do with Bike Camp, a very nice, organized introduction to road cycling, is without peer in the area. What I’m suggesting is that KBC has great community value beyond the organized rides on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Please consider joining. It’s good stuff. PLUS, membership is dirt cheap at $15/year.

Big Finish

Thank you! We are pleased and honored to serve you.

Sincerely,

Tim

Your Pedal Bicyclical

Hello, and happy November,

I don’t want to get anyone in trouble or incite unrest, but you really ought to talk to your employer about taking tomorrow afternoon off to ride at Custer. SWMMBA has done a marvelous job with the trails recently and the weather — holy smokes! I worked out a deal with my boss this afternoon and had a marvelous ride during which both body and mind were, well, straightened out. I recommend the experience highly.

There is a LOT going on around the shop.
We’re aware that sometimes you have to experience something in its true environment before you know if it’ll work for you, so we’re stocking up on demo mountain bikes. We have several from both Kona and Trek. Thinking about a new mountain bike? Come see us.

A few years ago, electric bikes were a total gong show: technology was all over the place, there was no commonality, legislation didn’t exist, and a lot of the stuff was just not that good. Pedal sat on the sidelines, unwilling to commit to a line of products in such incredible flux. This fall Trek came out with a line of electric assist bikes that look really appealing, and we’re going to get serious about this stuff. Maybe you’d like to get to work without sweating too much. Maybe you need a little boost on the hills. Whatever your need, we received several in Portage on Friday and will have ‘em assembled and ready to go shortly.

We’re very much trying to figure out how we can cut down on the repair backlog during the summer. Some of this means hiring more salespeople so we put less stress on the service department. Some of this means becoming more efficient. Some means asking our customers to schedule their service work during off-peak times. Like, for instance, now.

  • If your bike is less than a year old and you’d like us to make adjustments, we’d love to do it now.
  • If you’d like a major service for your bike, now is the time. Overhauls are half-priced ($90) in both shops from November 1st through January 31st. Be ready to hit the road when Spring rolls around!

Just last week we endured a software conversion that put both stores on the same inventory and sales software. We’re still reeling a bit, but the future looks quite bright. There will be, alas, some loss of historical data which we believe will be offset by greater intercommunication between the two stores.

Continuing the Breakaway tradition, our Romence location carries top-shelf fitness equipment. If you’d rather use a treadmill, an elliptical or a stationary bike in the comfort of your own home, we can help. We have great equipment, free delivery and a trained, qualified service staff.

Concerned about the Holiday Five? You know what I’m talking about: that extra snugness in the waistline from seconds on the stuffing. Please join us for the Gravel Gobbler on Saturday November 28th at 10:00am in the parking lot at Texas Corners Park. We’ll have a longer (30ish) and a shorter (considerably less than 30ish) route consisting of pavement and dirt roads. It’s a ride, not a race. Well, technically it’s a fundraiser for the Markin Glen mountain bike trail proejct. Look for the donation can! Afterward we plan to take advantage of the nearby brewery and eateries for socialization.

Schedule of Pedal Winter Events:
* Downtown Spinning – Signup is November 10th, beginning at 10:00. Space is limited to the first 45 people. It’ll be $150 bucks, which includes spinning plus one (1) overhaul.
* Saturday Yoga – Starting in December (December 5th, to be exact) we’ll have drop-in yoga at the Portage location with a bona-fide yoga instructor. Bring a yoga mat and your flexibility! Cost is $7/visit or you can get a five-visit punch card for $30. Proceeds go to charity. Which charity? Yoga attendees vote on it each month. Yoga starts promptly at 10:00am.
* Fat Wednesday – Jason Lechner (Pedal South Sales Manager and Fast Dude) is still ruminating about the ultimate configuration of this whole thing, but we’re gonna do *something* on Wednesday evenings in the winter. You’ll need a bike (probably a fat bike once the snow flies), a powerful headlight and some warm clothes. We’ll fire this up on December 2nd.

Giving Thanks
I love Thanksgiving, getting together with family and friends for a few hours and thinking about how good we have it. My family groans when I ask everyone around the table to name something for which they are thankful, but they generally play along.

2015 has been a wild ride for Pedal. We have a new location, new business partners, new customers, new software… a long list of new things. We could not have weathered this amount of change without a great staff. A wise man told me that what you need is something to do and good people with which to do it. I am lucky to work with good people and grateful for the opportunity.

Thank YOU, Pedal customer. You’re the reason we’re here. Please let me know if there’s something we can do, or perhaps do better.

Sincerely,
Tim

Shake Hands with October

Hello!

Indian Summer, I love you. It has been just a wonderful late summer/early autumn around here. The weather is terrific. The roads are less traveled. The kids are alright. Tough to beat.

Goodness! We had a spectacular time at the Ramona Park cyclocross race last Sunday. Wonderful weather. Lots of racers. Tons of enthusiastic spectators. Great fun. Our friend Mike took some really nice pictures you can see here. Thanks to RunUp for their help with the course and to the city of Portage for allowing us to use its park.

We have one more local race at Kindleberger Park on October 18th. I’m not sure I’ve been to a better CX venue than Kindleberger, and I hope to see you there. You can find more local-ish cyclocross here and here.

Don’t forget the Founder’s Fall Fondo on October 10th. Fun for everyone!

Alas, the days have become too short for us to safely host the Thursday night shop ride. Likewise, it’s getting dark in the woods quickly, so Monday Night Mountain Bike also draws to a seasonal end. It was a wonderful summer of riding with you folks, and I very much look forward to another great summer in 2016.

While there is a melancholy feeling surrounding these shorter days, we have a LOT going on during the cooler months:

  • We’ll have spinning downtown two nights a week. $150 gets you three months of spinning AND an overhaul of your bike. Signup for this will start on November 10th and will be first come, first served. Space is limited to the first 45 folks, and we’ll start the first Monday in December.
  • We’ll have Wednesday fat bike rides from Portage starting in December.
  • We’ll have Saturday morning Yoga at the Portage shop starting in December. We’ll have a bona fide yoga instructor, and cost will be around $7/visit. More details next month.
  • We’ll have half-price overhauls in both shops from November through January. How much is half price? It’s $90 for an incredibly thorough cleaning, lubrication and adjustment of your machine.
  • More? Yeah, there might be more.

We’ve begun a moderately substantial remodel of our Portage store. As signs in hotels and airports across this great country read, please excuse our mess. I think it’ll be great when we’re done, but it’ll take a few minutes/hours/days/weeks to get there. Thanks for your understanding.

These ever-shrinking days make for ever-lengthening dawns and evenings. If you’re a commuter or early morning rider, we’ve got the lights you need. Look into your immediate future with a brighter bulb.

Cooler-weather clothing is arriving in the shop every day. Some smarty-pants somewhere allegedly said that there is no bad weather, only poor clothing choices. I suppose that’s close enough. There is bad weather, but it can be overcome with proper clothing. I once wrote a really long and boring article on the subject.

A little nip in the air and a few falling leaves, it’s easy to be bummed that summer left town so quickly. But there’s still plenty of accessible fun. It’s a great experience to rip through the colorful forest on a clear fall day. It’s very satisfying to see your breath when you stop at an intersection while riding with your friends. Great things abound, and I hope you find them.

Hey! I appreciate you and thank you for your patronage. Please let me know how we can help.

Sincerely,
Tim

Your Pedal Bicyclical – July

Hello!

Well. That was an incredibly rainy June, but fun nonetheless.

Ongoing Fun:

Despite the fact that wet trails forced us to cancel fully 75% of all Monday Night Mountain Bike rides in June, the ride last Monday was great. Super bunch of folks hustling through the lush countryside on bikes. Come join us. We try to get started at 5:45, but loop back to the parking lot for a 6:00 pickup. Two effects of all the recent rain: mosquitos & bountiful poison ivy crop.

Shop buddy and all around great gal Teri Olbrot started a road ride from the Romence Road shop on Tuesday evenings. It’s a women’s fitness ride averaging 12-15 mph. Meet at the shop at 5:30 and start rolling no later than six. Fun!

Shop ride Thursday night at 6:15. Is it time to change the route and go up 6th St. hill? Probably.

July is Full of Activity:

Miller Energy BTR Crit on July 11th. 10th year! Holy smokes. Something must be going right.

Race for Wishes is the next day, July 12th, in beautiful downtown Lawton. In the event that you aren’t into racing the thing, it might be (read: is) pretty fun to ride out there and watch other people turn themselves inside out on a bike, then ride home.

The following weekend brings the Holland Hundred in, you guessed it, Holland, MI. This event is known for a beautiful route, great organization and very nice amenities.

Once upon a time there were two semi-local XTERRA races, but now there are none. Sigh. However, you can travel just a little way and participate in the Ionia XTERRA on July 26th. Tri and Du options available and more data here.

Around the Shop:

Some people look at a fat bike and say, “Yeah. That looks like fun.” Others say, “Nope. Please remove it from my sight.” Regardless, these things have spawned quite a bit of fresh thinking in the mountain bike world. In the Portage shop we have two “plus” bikes: the Trek Stache is 29+ while the Specialized Fuse 6Fattie (I could not make up this name) is a 650b/27.5+. Both of those things have (as you might guess) fatter than usual tires, but not as monstrous as a fat bike. These bikes have lots of traction and a bit of passive suspension without the weight penalty of a bona fide fat bike. Is this exactly what you’ve been looking for? I cannot say, but they are neat and different, and each represents original thinking.

Knowledge is power! Let’s talk about flat fixing and bike maintenance at the Portage location on Saturday, July 18th. Space is a little bit limited, so please RSVP at 269-324-5555.

We’ll be closed on Independence Day. We don’t observe that many holidays — especially holidays on a Saturday in summer — but this is a big one. Thanks for your understanding.

Our website received a massive facelift a couple of weeks ago. I think it’s pretty fun, and I hope you find it informative. We’re also making changes to Facebook, Google + and other social media in an effort to bring everything under one big happy Pedal umbrella.

Big Finish:

July doesn’t need a ramble. July is the pearl, the brass ring, the thing we Michiganders crave all winter long. I hope you can punch a hole in your schedule/calendar to enjoy it, to live in the moment and soak up the experience. And I hope you’ll stop by the shop and share it with us.

We thank and appreciate you.

Hail summer!

Tim

Your Pedal Bicyclical – National Bike Month

Hello!

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: http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/support/safety_and_recalls/

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.

Sincerely,

Tim

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. http://bikefortcuster.com/index.php/bike-swap
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.
Sincerely,
Tim

Your Pedal Bicyclical – Great Expectations

Hello!

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.
Help!
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!
Sincerely,
Tim

Your Pedal Bicyclical – Wintry Mix

Hello!
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!
Sincerely,
Tim

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 playing kiwi pokies and some shooter games, and I would occasionally fill that time looking at the internet looking to find how the ranking system works in csgo.

I know: crazy. While I spend a whole lot less time on the https://www.boomtownbingo.com/bet365-sports-review 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 – this popular mobile casino portal 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.

Sincerely,

Tim

Your Pedal Bicyclical – And now: Autumn

Hello!
I cannot believe that we’re staring October in the face. Wow.

Around the Shop

Cool bikes are coming in. Of special note are some very nice cyclocross and gravel road bikes. Delicious.
We have some sweet long-sleeve shirts that you could stylishly wear while:
– Riding
– Drinking a beer
– Being cool
Quantities are limited. Limited to what? To what we have. Dive in, and be prepared to ward off the paparazzi.
Winter gear? Heck yes! We have tights and jackets and warmers and gloves and hats and STUFF TO KEEP YOU WARM. Do you want to be warm? Yes? Let’s talk.

Politically Speaking

Important stuff is going on. I’m specifically speaking of the Stadium Drive and Michigan Avenue Corridor Study If you, like me, long for a more bike friendly Kalamazoo, it’s happening. I very much encourage you to use the tool here and attend the meetings and make of the city what you will. You. We need *you* to make this happen.
While visiting a friend this summer I shared how impressed I was by bike friendly Missoula. He said, “You can’t believe how hard it was. People were sure that road diets would ruin the city center and stop traffic forever. Yeah, it looks fantastic now, but it was an ordeal.” To this I would tell my fellow Kalamazooters: many hands make light work. Please contribute what you can to this very worthy effort.
I’d also remind everyone that change is difficult. Though it may seem intuitive to those of us who often ride, please be kind to your friends and neighbors who might have difficulty understanding the value of a bike friendly community.

Fun Things to Do

All good things must end, and so it is with the Thursday evening Pedal ride. The sun just sets too darn early these days. Thanks for a fantastic run this summer. I can’t wait for next year.
There are two (2) local cyclocross races this fall:
– October 12th at lovely Kindleberger park in Parchment
– November 16th at Markin Glen
We’ll have practice at noon the Saturday before each event at the race site. Cyclocross is fun. Please come enjoy!
More CX here and here!
The Colorburst in Lowell is this Saturday, and has always looked appealing.
Since the Grand Rapids XTERRA was cancelled (Boo! Hiss!), I guess we’ll all race CX at Manhattan Park and maybe dine as Rose’s after. This is always a good plan.
Iceman registrations are trading hands like hotcakes. Want to race? We can maybe hook you up with someone who can’t go. Want to get rid of your entry? Perhaps we can help. Shoot us an email or call.

The Ramble

Remember when you were younger, maybe eight, and you looked forward to your birthday SO MUCH. The anticipation was incredible. Maybe you knew exactly what you wanted or maybe you didn’t, but were excited by the prospect of being one year older. Then it was your birthday!
And then it was the day after your birthday.
I’m having trouble with the end of Best Summer Ever. I’ve used the term over the past few months, and I’ve believed it. It hasn’t been too hot. It hasn’t been too cold — not too much rain, not too dry. Yes, it’s been a good year at Pedal, but I write of something greater. Our clientele has been so uniformly happy. Rides I attended were full of camaraderie and joy. It’s been so fantastic that I want to give everybody a loud, stinging high-five… and now it’s fall.
Don’t get me wrong. I love autumn in Michigan with brisk weather and grape smells and beautiful trees and cyclocross and apples, but what a marvelous summer.
Big Finish
I went to a wedding this past weekend, a wedding of two people that I love enormously. One of them, a highly educated special ed teacher, told me about the drills she did with her students to train them to better fit into larger society. The drill topics distilled down to four things: curiosity, grit, zest and gratitude. On the cold, dark winter morning when she shared this with me, I thought, “Holy heck. Those are the exact things I want from my employees. Those are the exact things I want to demonstrate to our customers.”
Every day at Pedal we wonder how things work. We solve problems. Sometimes we solve difficult or unusual problems that take a whole lot longer than we think they should. Sometimes there are high fives. Sometimes there is harsh language. Do you care? I don’t know that you do, or that you should.
The thing I really, sincerely want to express in the Bicyclical is gratitude. I thank you for your business. I thank you for your consideration. I thank you for making Pedal part of your life.
I thank you for Best Summer Ever.
Sincerely,
Tim

Your Pedal Bicyclical – The Joy Edition

Gracious! What a positively magnificent summer. I write this on my back porch after today’s Kal-Tour, a beautiful ride through the county sponsored by the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club. A buddy of mine and I hooked up with other friends for a brisk (cough) ride with a little rain, a little sun, a little wind and a little heat: the Full Michigan. June was a wonderful month to be on a bike, and I have high hopes for July.

Around the Shop

Garmin has upped the high-end computer ante with its new Edge 1000, which offers maps, routes and connectivity to your smart phone. Cheap? No. Feature-rich? You bet. Check it out.

Our Scott rep is going to bring a few sweet bikes to Fort Custer for Mountain Bike Monday on the 30th (that’s tomorrow if this goes out on time). It’s not the full demo experience, but it is a good chance to maybe try something new if you’re interested. 5:45 at the trailhead.

Our clever friends at Swiftwick are having a nifty July promotion: Tour de Fours. Buy three four-inch-cuff socks and get a fourth for the impossibly low price of free. Woah.

Man, our shop rides have exploded this summer. I know it wears people out when I go into Full Preacher Mode before the ride and talk about good manners and ambassadorship and legal stuff and just on and on. I’d like to take just a quick moment to thank everyone for putting a nice face on group road riding. Thank you.

We’re working our tails off to keep service wait times as short as possible.

Fun Things to Do

Mountain Bike Monday

Shop Rides

Lots of weekly area group rides

It’s my perception that many folks will be traveling for the extended Independence Day weekend, so we’re not planning to ride on the 3rd. My apologies if this bums you out.

Racin’ racin’ racin’ in Kalamazoo the weekend of July 12th and 13th. The 12th is the Miller Energy BTR Crit here in town and the 13th is the Race for Wishes in (you guessed it) Lawton.

July 19th is the Holland Hundred, which ALWAYS gets a rave review.

Lots of bike rides here and lots of triathlon here.

Our friends at the Dream Center have their Kalamazoo Dream Ride on August 9th. This is a big fund raiser for an organization that helps the very needy in our community. Please give it a look and your consideration.

Big Finish

Joy is the emotion we hear expressed most around the shop. The brutal winter is still pretty vivid in most folks’ minds and almost everyone is just as happy as can be to experience this beautiful summer. What fun! On the shop ride last week I rode by the location of this incident and couldn’t stop laughing.

Viva summer and thanks to you, PEDAL customer!

Sincerely,
Tim

Your Bicyclical – It’s Happening

Holy crud bucket! Can you believe it’s May, the fifth month of the year? Me neither. And look at me: late with the newsletter. Stuff is happening.

Please allow me to say this first and foremost: Way to go Ryan. 19 credit hours and a full time job is a hard way to finish up college, but the deal is done and we’re just as happy and proud as can be. Nice work.

My wife just said, ‘You should say something in that thing of yours about how much women’s clothing you have.” Her wish is my command.

We have a wonderful customer who’s been asking me to stock Swiftwick socks for longer than I would like to admit. Turns out that all I needed to do was try a pair and, lo, we started stocking them shortly thereafter. Fancy cuffs with cool designs aren’t really Swiftwick’s thing. Instead they make super comfortable, supportive socks. Check ‘em out!

Just today we inked a deal to sell Sarma carbon fat bikes, rims and forks. Why? Fat bikes are exploding. While we are totally happy with Kona and 616, there definitely is a place in Kalamazoo for carbon fat bikes. So that’s the bikes. The neat-o carbon rims and forks allow us to zestify (new word, look for it in the 2015 OED) your existent fat bike for less than a grocery bag of dollars. We have wheels and forks now, with bikes and frames expected before Labor Day.

A few shop folk and several friends raced (term used loosely in some cases) the Ft. Custer Stampede mountain bike race last Sunday, which is *the* major fundraiser for our local mountain bike chapter, SWMMBA. I could write lots of words about the wonder of riding in the woods. I could write about the fun of adding an element of adrenaline (or fear or something) to the already nifty sport of cycling. We’re very lucky to have the trails at Fort Custer in our back yard, but I’ll tell you this: those trails didn’t build themselves. If you have a mountain bike or want to mountain bike or maybe even build trails on the odd Saturday, I very much encourage you to join the Southwest Michigan Mountain Bike Association. They’re good folks doing good work and could use your support.

Speaking of riding mountain bikes, Mountain Bike Monday is happening. All are welcome. The last three Mondays have been terrific.

Shop rides. Get your shop rides here. Actually, get a pile of road riding here.

What would May be without Kalamazoo Bike Week? Less awesome. Cool things to note are:

  • The Trail Blazer is this Saturday the 10th. Some years ago the TB was my first century, and I have fond memories of the event. It’s a good event benefitting the Kal-Haven Trail.
  • Also on Saturday is the Mayors’ City to City Ride. Join Mayors Hopewell and Strazdas at 9:00 at the Portage Creek Bicentennial Park. Yeah, mayors on bikes. Spring is happening.
  • More? You need more on Saturday? How about the Spring into Summer Family Bike Fest at Mayors Riverfront Park at 10:00.
  • Ward off evil at the Blessing of the Bikes at 10:30 at the Climax/Scotts Jr./Sr. High School, sponsored by the Climax United Methodist Church.
  • The Kalamazoo Bicycle Film Festival featuring short movies on May 13 at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe. Shows are at 6:00 for all ages and 8:15 for those over 21. Admission is a paltry five clams.
  • Our community Ride of Silence takes place on Wednesday, May 14th. The Ride of Silence honors those cyclists who have been injured or killed, raises awareness and asks that we all share the road. Good stuff.
  • Lots of cool stuff including the Bells to Bells ride on Saturday the 17th can be found on the Kalamazoo Bike Week web site.

Look at all this fun stuff. Three years ago there were relatively few activities during Bike Week. Now: lots. I think this is nothing but terrific.

Speaking of advocacy, our state Advocacy Day is in Lansing on May 21st, and you can read all of the detail on LMB’s very informative web site. I did something incredibly similar to this on a national level in March, and was really impressed.

I know what you want. Fun things to do.

“They” changed the date of the Yankee Springs Time Trial at almost exactly the moment last month’s Bicyclical hit the presses. It’s now May 18th and would be a perfect way to wind down (hah!) from Bike Week. Srsly: whip out that mountain bike and (ahem) redeem yourself from that Stampede fiasco.

Bike Camp starts on May 14th. Think you might like to road ride but are nervous about the whole thing? Bike Camp is opportunity knocking. Hear that? It’s opportunity.

If Tour de Taylor were an indie rock band I would own all their albums (which begs the question, how much does usage of the word album date a person? I suspect the answer is: significantly). Anywho, TdT is June 14th.

Kal Tour is June 29th and is a heckuva local thing. There are routes of 13, 15, 31, 62 and 100 miles. We’ve been kicking it around the shop and think it would be fun for all of us to ride bikes together. More details next month, but slap an X on June 29th to save the date. One note: register before June 15th for the good deal.

The weekend of July 12th and 13th is a monster. The Miller Energy BTR Crit happens on Saturday and the Race for Wishes in Lawton occurs on Sunday. Good fun all around.

I love riding bikes. I love bicycling machines. But, as I told my buddy recently, I really love being a part of the Kalamazoo bicycling community. Part of being from Kalamazoo, in my opinion, means that we acknowledge the fantastic philanthropic tradition of our community. Another part is acknowledging that there are many — too many — poor among Kalamazoo’s citizens. The Kalamazoo Dream Center exists to help the truly needy among Kalamazoo’s population, and they have a bike ride to help them raise funds toward that end. The Kalamazoo Dream Ride takes place on August 9th. I’ll tell you right now that it’s not your typical $20 century. It’s a ride to benefit a mission. If that sounds like the kind of thing that you can get behind, please do so. I’m not in the business of vetting nonprofit organizations, but I like the people I’ve met from this place.

Big Finish

As mentioned earlier, the cycling season is happening, and I’d like to get out of the way and allow you to enjoy it. If we can help, say the word. Otherwise I wish you many fun, untroubled miles.

Sincerely,
Tim

Your Pedal Bicyclical – The Anticipation Edition

Hello!

I once worked for a company that provided lunch for its employees. After a really tasty meal, one of my coworkers would often say, “Enough is never enough, but too much is too much!” Such are my feelings about the current season. Yesterday as I was putting on my long johns, I thought about a hot summer day in which the sun comes up early and I steal a ride before work. After the ride I hustle to take a shower but it’s So Stinking Hot and Humid that I can’t cool off before heading to the shop. This day will be here soon enough. And someone will complain about it. Heh.

I’ve been singing the praises of 650b/27.5″ mountain bikes for a few years now, and it looks like 2014 might be a breakout year, largely because one of the Big Guys (ok, it’s Giant) threw their hat in the ring. We’re fortunate that our brands were early adopters — Jamis has been making 650b for five years, Scott’s won two cross country world championships on 650b hard tails and Kona’s been doing their thing for a couple of years now. Neat stuff, proven designs and pretty darn exciting.

One of the recent trends in cycling that I like quite a lot is the movement toward not-skin-tight clothing. We started carrying baggy mountain bike shorts last year, and I’m a huge fan. I like being able to pop my car keys in a zippered pocket and I LOVE the fact that mosquitos have yet to pierce my baggy shorts — unlike thin lycra. This spring and summer will also see us experimenting with jerseys that look more like a shirt yet behave like a proper jersey made from performance material. Functonal? Yes. Stylish? I think so. Come see!

A hot topic around the shop these days is “What in the heck kinda tires are we going to use for Melting Mann and perhaps even Barry Roubaix?” Weather and road conditions being what they are lately, I’m going to say that studded looks like a good choice, despite the greater weight and rolling resistance. “What?” you say, “Those things are really expensive!” While they’re not dirt cheap, I think it’s fair to expect several years of use from a pair of studded tires. Plus fewer falls.

I recently wrote a long piece about dressing for cold weather that I thought would be great for next year, but maybe now is OK too.

The more things change, the more they change. We have several new faces around the shop. Charlie, Matt, Violet and Kira all work at Pedal part time while matriculating at various local institutions. They’re all super-nice and are acclimating to Pedal. I hope you’ll welcome them to our little world.

Over the past three years I’d like to think that we’ve built our business on service, particularly prompt, professional service for your bikes. It’s always our goal — and very often our realized goal — to get your bike done in a week during the busy season. I’ll be honest and say that this year’s longer, colder winter has me a bit spooked. I fear that there’s a glut of repair work sitting in garages and basements around town that’ll suddenly arrive at our door on the first warm day of the year and that it’ll take us a fair amount of time to work through that gob of labor. You, the people who receive this missive, are our customers. You’re the lovely people who’ve secured our success. If you know your bike needs a little attention, I really, really encourage you to get that sweet thing down to us before the hoards arrive. Thanks in advance.

One of my favorite programs from the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club is Bike Camp, a wonderful introduction (or perhaps reintroduction if you’ve been away from the sport for a while) to road cycling. If you are or know someone who might benefit from such a thing, I very much encourage you to check out http://kalamazoobicycleclub.org/club/bikeCamp.php It all starts on May 13th, so you’ve got a little time yet.

Fun Things to Do:

As always and with great sincerity PEDAL thanks you for being our customer. Please let me know how we can better serve you.
Sincerely,
Tim

Your Pedal Bicyclical – Kill the Groundhog Edition

Holy Guacamole! What a winter wonderland we have here.

Very quick thoughts:

  • If I could have back all the time I’ve spent maintaining my driveway this past month, I could have written six Bicyclicals.
  • Very Much is the amount that I regret wasting Snowpocalypse on last month’s issue.
  • The days are getting longer, right? Right?

Before anything else: thanks to everyone who participated in last month’s survey. Feedback was positive with good bits of very constructive criticism thrown in for good measure, some of which mirrored my own thinking and some that did not. Food for thought. Food for action.

There are but a few things cycling-related that we can talk about when it’s so cold and snowy. One of those things is fat bikes, a “segment” of the biking world that has picked up substantial steam in the last two years. It’s been interesting to watch the changes. A couple years ago there were only two or three bikes, and now there are all sorts of brands and models. Frame and component standards have changed and perhaps coalesced. More tires are becoming available, as are rim and hub options. All of this is good, and all of it makes these interesting things more accessible. One thing I would mention: if you like the look of a fat bike but think, “I don’t want to ride in the snow. I don’t like to be cold. I would never use one of these,” I would say “Au contraire!” They’re actually very fun to ride on mountain bike trails and on city streets. In all instances, those big tires don’t mind a lot of the things that bother their skinnier cousins — things like roots, rocks and potholes. Come in and give one a spin. I think there’s every chance that you’ll like it. And here’s the funniest movie ever created. Here’s an article you might like. And this has a quote in which I sound like I have some command of the English language. I know. Weird.

What’s new in the shop?

Our 2014 design short sleeve jerseys arrived along with a healthy assortment of Pedal bibs and shorts for everyone. Look good and feel good, like when you´re taking aging supplements, The only brand of pterostilbene I take is here. Not like this guy.

Thinking about a road trip but don’t know how to fit it all in your ride? We’ve doubled-down on Thule cargo boxes for 2014. In fact, we stock a complete size run of Force boxes, which represent a fantastic blend of price and function. Imagine four people, a dog and four bikes on a 1500 mile road trip in a small SUV. Cozy? You bet. But we couldn’t have done it without the Thule box on top.

It’s time. Come get yourself a good deal on winter clothing. What! Good deal on winter clothing when it’s still cold outside? Yup. Right here. Right now.

Things to which we can look forward with increasing anticipation:

Melting Mann. Will it be a race, an adventure or something else? Who knows, but I all but guarantee that it’ll be memorable. Come on down and win yourself a Kona Rove thanks to our friends at Kona, our other friends at Central District Cyclery in GR and, well, us.

Barry Roubaix, you make me fearful, but I’ve always had a wonderful experience. March 22nd in lovely Hastings, MI. Tough race and one heckuva party immediately after.

I’ve said it before and I might just say it again in 2014, but these gravelly races are for anyone. If you have a bike that’ll traverse a gravel road, you can do these races. Yes, there will be people going really fast. Yes, the conditions might well and truly suck. Yes, you should know and exhibit proper race etiquette. Yes, it’ll be hard. Any time you put a number on your body or your bike it’ll be hard, but that’s kinda the point, right? The experience. Hurt a little bit. Maybe get a little bit outside your comfort zone. C’mon. Pick the right right length route for you and give it a shot. Even in the unlikely event that you have the worst day of your life, you know what? You’ll have done a bike race.

One of the few non-cycling events I’d like to talk about is the EZ 5K on April 19th. This is a foot race or walk to benefit the Eric Zapata Memorial Foundation. As you may recall, Officer Zapata passed away just less than three years ago while in the line of duty. The foundation was created to honor his legacy as a Kalamazoo Public Safety Officer and hopes to perpetuate his memory by maintaining a memorial scholarship and making contributions to the community he served. That’s about as nice a thing as I’ve ever heard, and I encourage you to check it out.

Let’s all hold hands and imagine — imagine that the snow will be gone by May 4th. What’ll we do without the snow? How will we exist? I’d suggest that we race the Fort Custer Stampede! It doesn’t take as long as a marathon and last year there was a frosty BEvERage at the end. Nice.

One of our customers came in and said, “You should say something about Bike the Drive in Chicago. I did it last year and it was really cool.” On May 25th Chicago closes Lake Shore Drive to vehicular traffic for five hours. I have to admit that I knew a whole lot of nothing about this event until Ken told me about it, but it looks like a good time for a good cause. Check it out here.

Let’s think about a warmer month, such as June. Is your June calendar already filled up with stuff? Good stuff? Stuff that benefits a great cause, is done by fun people and is itself a good time? Really? You’re already doing this? Good for you. See you there.

Big Finish

Winter is what makes us grateful for summer.

PEDAL loves its customers.

Sincerely,
Tim

Your Pedal Bicyclical – Snowpocalypse Edition

January, the month of introspection, of resolutions kept and abandoned. This issue of the Bicyclical is generally addressed to those subjects. One word of warning. Remember last month’s issue that was so short and sweet and quickly readable? This month won’t be like that, so you might want to grab a cup of coffee in the morning or perhaps something more fortified in the evening. Or hit delete now.
I occasionally use this organ to discuss the health of Pedal. I think our customers show great faith in us, and it’s only fair that we let ’em know that — thus far — their faith has yielded a successful bike shop. We’re just a few weeks away from our third birthday, and I think we’ve come a very long way since our first few days and we have helped many people to achieve their health goals, even people with diseases as diabetes that make them take medicines as vedda blood sugar remedy. This medication works best when started at the first sign of an outbreak, as directed by your doctor. It may not work as well if you delay treatment. For shingles or chickenpox, start taking valtrex at the first symptom or as soon as possible after the rash appears. For cold sores or genital herpes, start taking this advice medication at the first sign or as soon as you feel tingling, itching, or burning.
So things have changed a lot. We’ve increased our inventory. We expanded our service area. We’ve hired good people. We are better equipped to serve a greater variety of needs than we were a while back. It’s good stuff. And in that time we’ve also never had a sale. Why? I don’t like them. I don’t like charging one thing one day and another the next. I don’t like the idea that item X has this value on Tuesday but a different value on Friday. I like to take a different approach, one that is more value- than price-oriented. I want you, Pedal’s customer, to know that you can come into the shop any day at all and we’ll give you a fair price and excellent service. That is our deal, and I don’t think it’ll change anytime soon.
However, we make purchasing mistakes. Our vendors change things around and phase out old models and, yes, that stuff has to go. We have things that fall into that Gotta Go category and you are welcome to take advantage of these changing times. Right now we have a good number of really great Easton wheels that need good homes. You may recall (or more likely not) that Thule purchased Chariot a couple of years ago. Thule decided to rebrand Chariot as Thule for 2014, so our existing child transportation system floor models are, well, no longer current and are in need of good homes. Note: this Chariot stuff is as good as it gets. Primo. Deluxe. Don’t miss out on a good deal.
Help! Our queen of back office affairs inexplicably took another job, and we need a sharp cookie to fill her shoes. If you are or know someone who can handle tasks related to inventory in a friendly, efficient manner, we’d like to talk. The Pedal application is here. Why am I bothering you with this? Odd fact: 100% of Pedal employees were Pedal customers first.

New Stuff:

HED makes great aerodynamic wheels and really, really terrific aluminum race wheels. New this year are wider rims, disk brake compatibility and insanely light carbon fat bike rims. I’ll admit that I’m something of a wheel junkie and I go to buy junk car indianapolis all the time, but one of my favorite recent purchases was a pair of HED Ardenne Plus for my cross bike. They are extraordinarily well considered and constructed.
No doubt the biggest name in aerodynamic wheels, Zipp continues to innovate and improve. We’ve had enough customers hassle (er, ask) us about Zipp that we just can’t say no. Clincher or tubular, all Zipp aero wheels are totally carbon, very strong, very light. We have an 808/404 combo hanging on the wall, about which Ryan said, “Those black Zipps look bad.” Indeed they do. Fast, too.
I’ve always been a little bit mystified by these guys with cameras on top of their helmets or on their handlebars. Even so, when Garmin recently released the VIRB we snapped up a couple and have been putting one through its paces. I’ll admit: it’s fun. It didn’t take too long for us to load up a Micro-SD card, charge the battery and start filming. Once we had actual footage, we used Garmin’s downloadable app (PC or Mac) to transfer the data to a computer and then on to Facebook. Minutes later, we’d interfaced the VIRB to both an iPhone and an Edge 510, such that either device could control the camera. Pretty darn cool. Available now. Here. At Pedal. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnLGejV4e0o

Things to Do:

I’ve been pimping, er, promoting this Melting Mann race because — hey — it’s the kind of race I like. Over the past little bit, things have gotten more interesting. In conjunction with our friends at Central District Cycling in GR and Kona, we’re giving away a Rove at the race. You know, just in case you need another reason to sign up. Hurry! I’m not sure where we are on the 500 limit, but the buzz has been high and I’m afraid it’ll sell out soon.
Two weeks after is the fastest growing hootenanny in Michigan cycling: the Barry Roubaix. I could write a 1000 word essay on the number and intensity of emotions I’ve experienced surrounding this race the last couple of years, but I like you guys, so I won’t. Here’s the dirt: if you have a bike with reasonably chunky tires and some smattering of desire and/or competitive nature, you will have a memorable experience. I’m not talking about something you post on Facebook and forget; I’m talking about the kind of thing that lives in your heart and puts a smile on your face from time to time.
For people who’d like to get especially intimate with their mountain bike saddle, may I recommend the Lumberjack 100? The gold standard for 100 mile MTB whoopins around these parts, it occurs on the solstice this year for your druid pleasure.

Big Finish

Let’s come back around to resolutions. I’d like to lose some weight. I could swear less. I think Pedal could be more… tight, more precise. Yet I worry that I see what I want to see and not what I should see. I worry that our customers (that’s you) are kind people and won’t tell me what they want or how we should improve. In an effort to avoid that potentially unpleasant moment when you have to break it down for me face to face, I’ve created a short survey you can take if you have the time and inclination. If you don’t, that’s totally cool. I know I’ve turned down about 100,000 survey opportunities from AT&T. If you do have a few moments and an opinion or two, I hope you’ll participate in this, the first ever Pedal customer survey.
And it is with high hopes and good intentions that we march into 2014, trying to be a better bike shop  to serve you, our wonderful customers. Thank you.
Sincerely,
Tim

November’s Bicyclical

Hello!

Regrettably this issue of the Bicyclical is a rather more jumbled mess than usual. Still, perhaps one might be able to find a pearl in this ocean of words.

Hey! It’s Iceman weekend. Of course, if you didn’t sign up a few hundred months ago it’s too late to race, but the party is pretty good when the pros cross the line.

Of course there is still some sweet cyclocross action in 2013. The ever-popular Markin Glen race right here in Kalamazoo is on the 10th. RunUpCX is at Bendix Woods on the 17th, and we pretty much finish up the local season inHolland on the 24th. Yes. It does get colder as we progress, but it’s still fun as heck.

People come into this fine establishment and ask, “Hey, are you gonna spin again this winter?” And I say, “Spin? What? Are you talking about David Mitchell’s House of Pain? Heck yes!” And I am now pleased to offer you some specifics on this. First off, this winter we’ll be training to win (that’s right: win) a March gravel road race. What sort of cycling fitness do you need for this race? You need high-end strength to power up the hills and the endurance to last the race. We will have our workouts on Monday and Thursday evenings at six o’clock beginning December 2. The workouts will last between sixty and seventy-five minutes. They will devour you in that special way in which you would prefer to be devoured. Participants need to provide a few essentials: a bike, a trainer, a bike computer that measures cadence and either a heart rate monitor or a power meter. Without those tools, you are unlikely to receive the maximum training benefit. We’ll take the first forty-five people that put down a whopping $25 US to reserve a spot. And that’s a fact. One last thing, and I fear that it will sound critical instead of welcoming: we don’t do spinning as an active form of bicycle storage. We do this to get/stay in shape and to do it with friends new and old. While I know that life gets in the way and can lay waste to our best laid plans, we’re looking for people to suffer with us often this winter.

Around my house at this time of year we like to curl up in front of the fire and read when we have a bit of down time. I like to read bicycling magazines from time to time (read: pretty much all the time) and lately I’ve been enjoying Singletrack, which you can find at Michigan News or the internet. Good writing. Good pictures. Maybe you’ll like it. Maybe not. Afraid to commit? A few back issues are on the coffee table at the shop. Check it out.

New faces abound at Pedal. Katy is finishing up her degree in Spanish at Western this semester, sampled her first cyclocross race and is quickly becoming a competent mechanic. Lily (not my daughter) came in one night looking at handlebar tape and somehow left with employment. Both ladies bring a good work ethic and a cheerful demeanor to the job, and I hope that you’ll make them feel welcome.

Change goes both ways, and it pains me to say that Jordan will be leaving us in the middle of November. Way back when, Jordan was the third Pedal employee, right after Ryan and me. He’s been a rock of stability around the shop for a long time. We’ll miss him greatly and wish him only the best of luck with whatever comes next.

What time is it? Yep. I saw snow the other day so it must be time for the Half Priced Overhaul. From November 1, 2013 through January 31, 2014 we will overhaul the living heck out of your bike for a paltry $90. What’s it include?
– True the wheels
– Disassemble the hub, bottom bracket and headset bearings, relube and reassemble
– Tune the braking system
– Tune the shifting system
– Clean the bike
This is a very fantastic deal, and I hope you’ll take advantage of it. We’d like our customers riding their finely-tuned bicycles as soon as the weather breaks next spring instead of waiting in the inevitable line for service. Who wants to wait in line? No one. Especially you. So let us help you by getting that bike in here, serviced and ready to go.

The time of year is coming when we Americans traditionally take stock of our situation and, hopefully, profess thanks for our good fortune. Many of our customers and friends ask, “How’s it going?” I’m happy to say that it’s going great. Really, really super, in fact. And I am grateful. I’m grateful for the customers that place such faith in Pedal. I’m grateful for Pedal’s employees who work so hard to make us a better bike shop. I’m grateful for the  suppliers who have been such tremendous partners and have supported our efforts so well.

Thank you. We’re nothing without our wonderful customers.

Sincerely,
Tim

The Bicyclical – February 2013

Hello!

Since winter appears to have arrived and this note is from a bike shop, I wouldn’t expect it to be terribly long.

Thanks to everyone who came to our birthday celebration. Great to see you. To those of you who couldn’t’ make it, I wish you had. There was just too much cake, and I feel as though I ate all of the excess. Ugh.

I don’t wish to belabor the point, but our Half Price Overhaul Special ends Thursday. If your bike needs a fair amount of service, please don’t miss the good deal. If your bike needs a less intense level of care and feeding, I’d still encourage you to bring your machine in while the weather is inhospitable. I really, seriously don’t want you to miss the excellent riding weather we’re sure to have in 2013.

Speaking of this splendid still-new year, there are events that I’d like to bring to your attention. The first is this weekend. Cyclocross Worlds (as in World Championships) are in Louisville, KY this Saturday and Sunday. This is a very exciting development for cyclocross in our country. Tickets are on sale and hotel rooms are still available. Check it out here.

Next up is Custer’s Last Stand, the XTERRA at Ft. Custer on May 19th. In case you don’t know, XTERRA is off-road triathlon/duathlon, and this local event is great. Two words come to mind when I think about this race: Low Key. Yes, folks race hard, but it is 100% welcoming to the beginner. The swim is in a clear lake. The bike course is a combination of red and blue trails. The run is mostly on the green trail. We’re very fortunate to have an event like this in our area, and I’d encourage you to consider participating, spectating or volunteering. Loads of fun. More info here.

The last thing I’d like to mention occurs the week prior to the XTERRA, Kalamazoo Bike Week. With regard to this event: I’d like your help. I’d be very interested to know what we — Pedal in particular and Kalamazoo Bike Week in general — can do during this time. What would *you* like to see? What events? What support? I have a couple of ideas, but I’d sure be interested in yours. Call or drop me a line. Note: the right people are aware that the Bike Week site contains outdated information, and they’re on the case.

Seen our updated web site?

Believe it or not, that wraps it up for this month. We’re hunkered down overhauling bikes and thinking of an early Spring. As always, thanks a ton for your patronage and support. I’m always open to comments and suggestions.

Hope to see you soon,

Tim, Ryan, Jordan, Dave, Brittany and Jim