As of Monday, April 14th, we’re happy to announce we’re moving to our Spring/Summer Hours!
All of our locations will be open later to offer you the best cycling service:
Downtown Ada: 10a – 8p Monday, Wednesday – Friday, 10a – 5:30p Tuesday, 9a – 4p Saturday. Closed Sunday.
East Paris Ave: 10a – 8p Monday, Wednesday – Friday, 10a – 5:30p Tuesday, 9a – 4p Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Fulton Street: 10a – 8p Monday, Wednesday – Friday, 10a – 5:30p Tuesday, 9a – 4p Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Gaslight Village: 10a – 7p Monday, Wednesday – Friday, 10a – 5:30p Tuesday, 9a – 4p Saturday. Closed Sunday.
This past winter I was lucky enough to jump in to my first race season ever… on a fat bike! I signed up to travel with the best fat biking mentor in the world and GRBC teammate, Danielle Musto, to all of the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series with my Salsa Mukluk. I haven’t looked back since.
The first race of the series was a 42k race in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, and although half of the race participants dropped out due to difficult conditions, I was beyond ecstatic to be the third woman to pass the finish line! Race #2 was held at Crystal Mountain, and the Fat Chance! was a 2 hour lapped race. Despite a lot of hike-a-bike segments, I managed to finish second out of the women. Race #3, the Farmer’s Fat Bike Race, was held here in our own backyard and it’s one of my favorite races to be at. We sponsor the race each year, and I really loved seeing all of my coworkers from GRBC and the Ada Bike Shop on race day. My rear wheel froze up mid-race, and despite having to run to my mechanic, Jason Schippert, I was still able to finish fourth. Jason did a great job keeping my bike in working order and I was really happy that he was at the mushiest, most difficult race of the season to help me with my mechanical. Race #4 was the Noquemanon World Championship up in Marquette, Mi. I drove up there with some of the Farm Team, Danielle, and my boyfriend. The Noque is a really hilly, awesome, 30+ mile cross country ski trail up in the UP and this race was the only time you could ride it on a fat bike. Temperatures the morning of race day were below zero degrees, and a lot of riders got pulled at aid stations for having the beginning signs of frost bite. I made a rookie mistake this race and went out 100% to tackle the hills, and then shot past a female fat biker, who then hung on my rear wheel for the remainder of the course. Since she had drafted off of me to conserve her energy, she was able to sprint past me in the last 500 meters of the race. I finished fourth overall female.
Race #5 we found ourselves back in Minneapolis for the Fat Tire Loppet. This was another ski-turned-fat-bike festival, and there were people flying kites and feeding bonfires the whole race. The course was twisty and brought us across many frozen lakes. Next year I want to come spend more time at the festival checking out the ice sculptures and the beer garden! I finished fifth at the Loppet, behind a field of very fast women including April Morgan, Danielle Musto, Rhonda Wright, and Kristy Henderson. Less than two weeks later, we were back out in Minnesota again for Race #6, the Frozen 40. I had been anticipating the Frozen 40 all season, wondering how I would do on 40 miles of single track (not only the farthest distance I would have raced yet, but also on single track as opposed to groomed ski trail). Lucky for me, it was a four-lap race, and this gave me a chance to learn the trail and to ride more confidently each lap, despite the degrading and sloppy trail conditions. It took me over 6 hours to finish, but I was able to finish third place female! Race #7 was the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout, and despite desperately wanting to go, Danielle and I were worn out from traveling to all of the previous races. We stayed in Grand Rapids this weekend and partnered up to take first place in the duo category at a 3 hour race at Pando Winter Sports Park. Cuyuna looked like a ton of fun, and it’s definitely on my checklist for next year. The Fat Bike Birkie marked race #8 of the series in Hayward, Wisconsin, and it was also the National Championship Fat Bike Race! There were over 500 racers signed up for this race and the women’s field was packed full of experienced fat bike and adventure cyclists. Lining up next to Ned Overand was something I never would have thought possible before signing up for the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series. Racing all season, I was really happy and surprised that I hadn’t caught any colds while spending so much time outdoors and racing… the Fat Bike Birkie finally caught up with me and I would up racing while recovering from the stomach flu. The Birkie trail was beautiful, my parents came out to watch me race, the weather was sunny and clear, and I felt as though I had two flat tires and no energy whatsoever. Since I had done so well in all of the previous GLFBS races, all I needed to do to lock in the second place overall series spot was to finish the Birkie. I was SO happy to hear the music from the finish line at the end of the race! I came in 21st in a field of about 50 women and finished 4th in my age group. It was hard to stay bummed out for too long after finishing and wishing that I hadn’t been sick because they called the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series champs up to the podium.
My first season racing and I nailed second place female in the overall series, behind a first place Danielle Musto! Not too bad for jumping in to the fat biking world blind and for continually throwing myself out of my comfort zone. I had a ton of fun the whole season, met some really great cyclists and made friends with a lot of people I otherwise wouldn’t have met. My favorite part about fat bike racing, aside from all the people I met, was always the start and finish of each race. No matter how many times I lined up at the start, I was always grinning ear-to-ear, because seeing a bunch of fat bikes take off from a stand-still was hilarious! We all took off so slow! No matter how skilled each rider was, fat biking is still relatively new and even the pros fall in the snow when the trail is sloppy enough. If you haven’t considered bike racing, do yourself a favor and try signing up for a race in the fat bike category. It’s a whole different world from mountain and road racing, and to me it’s just a lot more fun. I’m looking forwards to racing my fat bike year-round and can’t wait to see what tomfoolery takes place. I was happy to represent the Grand Rapids Bicycle Company at all of the races and couldn’t have done it without all of my coworker’s support. Thanks for letting me race all season, guys! – Jill Martindale