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Dirt Church: Your June Schedule of Services

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We had a blast this past weekend at Maple Hills, so we're going to keep doing the Lord's Work right here in Grand Rapids. 

After a break for Memorial Day and the following weekend, you'll have two chances to join us in praising the gods of dirt, the saints of singletrack, with two new venues to give thanks and praise. First up, join us on June 10 at Wahlfield Trail. It'll work the same as we've just done for Maple Hills; meet at the shop for coffee and breakfast around 8:30, then get rolling around 9:15 to 9:30. We'll work out carpools and caravans, or you can plan to meet us at the trailhead around 10:15. 

These Dirt Church rides are a great chance to try something new, too. We have a selection of Kona and Rocky Mountain bikes to demo, but you do need to call ahead to reserve the bikes. We won't demo any unscheduled bikes on Sundays, because we're trying to keep things laid back and fun. We'll bring the bike to the trailhead for you and even get the pedals, seat height, and suspension dialed in; when you're done, we'll take care of it for you! 

Our demo fleet includes:

Kona Hei Hei
Kona Big Honzo
Kona Process 153

Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt
Rocky Mountain Pipeline

Our second Dirt Church for the month of June will come a week later. We're heading to Richmond Park on June 17, with the same free bike demos, breakfast, and more grilling while we spend the day riding! If there's a little something you'd like specifically, bring it, but we'll have the traditional barbecue fare on offer. 

Sundays are for preserving a sense of reverence, and there's no reverence quite like that of riding bikes in the woods with friends. 

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Dew You Know Bryan?

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  1. What was your first bike? 

    2017 Specialized Rockhopper Sport

  2. What is your perfect bike ride?

    Technical Singletrack, all day, 55°, light breeze, no gap jumps!

  3. If you could tell a customer one maintenance tip, what would it be?

    Wash your bike after every ride🤘

  4. What is your proudest accomplishment on the bike?

    Currently: finishing Marji Gesick 100 in ‘17

  5. If you could have any 2018 bike from the CDC line-up, what rig would you take home?

    Rocky Element 999

  6. What is your favorite trail to ride in West Michigan?

    Does Owasippe count? If not, Cannonsburg Ski Hill/ State Game Area. (Ed. Note: We'll count Owasippe.)

  7. What is your favorite place to ride in the WORLD?

    South Marquette, so far...

  8. What makes CDC different from other bike shops?

    Two things: Cranky Nate and Happy Nate.

  9. What’s the one tool/snack/item you won’t leave home without?

    Tailwind!

  10. What would you tell a new rider about getting into cycling?

    Ride, travel, ride, travel. What do you want to do? Gravel, road, singletrack? Buy a bike you gel with and ride the living hell out of it.

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Meet Bob, CDC's Service Slayer

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Have you met Bob? If you've been in the shop, you almost certainly have met our hardworking manager with an eye for detail and a passion for shredding. He's a BMX rider who never grew all the way up, and a suspension expert that can dial in your full suspension rig like no one else in town. 

1. What was your first bike?

Schwinn Predator

2. What is your perfect bike ride?

Either a stroll with my wife and son. Carving some turns in a bowl at the skate park or hitting some big delicious dirt jumps hidden in the woods

3. If you could tell a customer one maintenance tip, what would it be?

Check your tire pressure regularly.

4. What is your proudest accomplishment on the bike?

Still being able to ride after all the stupid things I’ve done on a bike so far. Still being able to ride a BMX bike as an old guy.

5. If you could have any 2018 bike from the CDC line-up, what rig would you take home?

Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt. GX spec with RockShox suspension.

6. What is your favorite trail to ride in West Michigan?

Maple Hill. Or Charlotte skate park. Undisclosed Dirt Jumps.

7. What is your favorite place to ride in the WORLD?

Haven’t been yet, but will be Whistler in July 2018. Ray's is amazing.

8. What makes CDC different from other bike shops?

We cater to the mountain bike/gravel crowd. We’re different than a lot of shops. We live and breathe dirt.

9. What’s the one tool/snack/item you won’t leave home without?

Shock pump.

10. What would you tell a new rider about getting into cycling?

Have fun and don’t take it too seriously.

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Your Month In Bike Rides

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We're cooking up some serious fun this May. Here's where you'll find us. 

Central District Cyclery is whipping out some sweet stuff this spring, including two new weekly rides, plus a road trip south to Maple Hill. 

In case you were distracted by the run of Barry-Roubaix, Yankee Springs TT, and Fort Custer, your weeknights are getting a bit more spicy, too. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, you're busy. On Wednesday, we're chasing glory and tacos with our pals at City Built Brewing with the FUNduro. Two timed segments, two transfers, and 100% chance of tacos every Wednesday at 6, rolling from City Built. 

Thursdays, we're staying at the shop with Dirty Thursdays. Some of you hood rats already joined us last week, so you'll get it. If you missed it, don't miss out again. We ride the pump track, make it bigger, weirder, and incrementally more dangerous until it's dark. Interval training, but with beer. It's also a great chance to dial in your suspension, too. 

On May 20, we're taking the show on the road to Maple Hill. We'll carpool from the shop at 9am, or you can meet us down there. Maple Hill is a new trail that was just completed in August of 2017 at Markin Glen Park, just outside of Kalamazoo. We'll do a few loops of the 5.5 mile trail, pick some downhills to shred, and throw a little shrimp on the barbie, too. 

Of course, it's also a great time to help get the trails ready for summer. WMMBA has a number of opportunities to donate a pint of elbow grease to help Luton, Cannonsburg Ski Hill Trail and Ionia Rec get all polished up for the rest of the season. Remember, we'll make a donation to WMMBA every time you buy a mountain bike from us! 

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Trade In, Trade Up at CDC

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New year, new season, new bike. 

At Central District, we like all bikes. Like most people, new ones are especially cool. There's nothing wrong with sticking by an old faithful friend who has shared some great times with you, but there's also a point where it's best to let that friend fly the coop. This spring, we're making it very easy to trade in and trade up. 

Stop by the shop for an on-the-spot quote from Bicycle Blue Book. Your trade-in gets you credit toward any bike in the shop, including other used bikes that might be bouncing around! Of course, with so many sweet 2018s from Rocky Mountain and Kona, you'll likely hop onto something shiny, 1x, and squishy. 

Make sure you join us this Sunday, May 6 for the Ultimate Demo Day at Wahlfield Trail. Our pals at Village Bike and Fitness will also be on hand, giving you a ton of options on test rides from some of our favorite brands. Bring your bike and we'll give you a trade-in quote while you're testing riding, so you know you've got a bit of credit already leaning toward your new bike. 

Rocky Mountain will have these bikes:

2018 THUNDERBOLT C70
2018 ALTITUDE C70
2018 INSTINCT C70
2018 PIPELINE C70
2018 ELEMENT C70
2018 SLAYER C70
REAPER 24, and more!

Kona's Demo Fleet for Sunday includes:

Process 153 AL/DL 29
Process 153 CR 27.5
Satori DL
Hei Hei Trail CR
Honzo AL/DL

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Do You Even Enduro, Bro?

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Enduro isn't just a lifestyle or a hashtag on Instagram. It's a real way to ride bikes fast, but conveniently, with friends. Let's dive in. 

Starting in May, Thursday nights are dedicated to our FUNduro MTB Series, rolling from City Built Brewing at 6:30. Enduro racing is a series of timed segments with check points that you need to reach in between, but with only so much time to get there. These segments, or stages if you're really into enduro (and you look like you are), are either transfer stages or timed, with your timed stages adding up to a total time, and transfer stages not affecting your total as long as you arrive inside of the allotted time. 

So here's how we'll do it. We BUST from City Built (try to the Fresh Ass Salad when we get back) at 6:30, with 30 minutes transfer time to get to Richmond Park Flow Trail. You can do it pretty easily, it's not that far. Then, we'll do two timed stages, both of the Flow Trail, before meeting up and heading back to City Built, which will count as the final transfer stage. We'll have MAJOR AWARDS for first, second, third and DFL, of course. The winners will live with glory forever, and get a taco from City Built. So, really, pretty good incentive to send it. 

Win once? Good. Twice? Impressive. Win the most this May and you'll be crowned King (or Queen) for the month by hitting all the events! We will not make our King and Queen dance slowly around the bar listening to Endless Love

Looking for a better description of enduro racing, or at least one with a more exotic accent? Watch the video below. 

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Somebody's Got A Birthday Coming Up....And Here's What He Wants

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On April 16, Nate is turning 29 years old. Get the best bike shop owner you've ever met exactly what he wants for his birthday...or else. 

Nate is a pretty cool guy. He loves small dogs, beer, and riding bikes in the woods. He is often dirty as a direct result of one or more of these pursuits. If you know him, you almost certainly like him. And since he's aging, we're celebrating by doing a good deed in his esteemable honor. 

Instead of more small dogs and perhaps in addition beer birthday gift basket, we're asking you help Nate and Central District Cyclery raise money for the West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance. WMMBA is a huge group of people that spend their time working to build, protect, and maintain trails all over West Michigan. From Merrell to Yankee, CSGAD and more, it takes dozens of volunteers hundreds and thousands of hours per year to give us all a place to ride. 

You can help. Even if you can't roll up your sleeves for all the trail days this summer, try making it a priority to help at the trail you use the most, and consider volunteering at events like pouring beer at Barry-Roubaix or the Yankee Springs Time Trial. 

Of course, they can also use some cash to help keep all these volunteers armed with tools, gas, and beer in order to do what they do best; build trail. For Nate's birthday, give the big guy the gift of a dozen places to ride by splashing some cash AND earning yourself some Trail Karma. 

 

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The ULTIMATE Demo Day: May 6 at Wahlfield Park

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One demo day to rule them all, and in the radness, try them. 

Spring has been an incredibly elusive thing this year for just about every bike ride east of the Rockies. We've been looking forward to get onto the dirt, and when we heard that there was a rather timely convergence of demo trucks all in Grand Rapids at the same time, we got even more excited about riding dirt on new bikes. 

On Sunday, May 6, we're tagging in our friends at Village Bike Shop for the ultimate in bike demos at Wahlfield Park. Swing a leg over mountain bikes from Kona, Rocky Mountain, Giant, and Specialized. Check out the new Kona Process, jump on a few different set-ups, and find the right rig for how you ride. 

Demos will start at noon and roll until 4, so you can get a workout in beforehand if you're into that sort of thing. We'll have a TON of bikes, really, so plan on riding as many as you want in 4  hours. It's always a good idea to bring your helmet and your own pedals, and maybe a photo ID just in case it gets really busy out there. 

You can scout out Wahlfield here if you haven't ridden it before. It's a great spot for a demo, with plenty of short loops so you can play with fit and suspension set-up, with some reasonably techy areas to push any bike to its ragged edge. 

Check out Kona and Rocky Mountain's 2018 line-ups and start thinking of what bike you'll ride first! 

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Melting Mann 2018: Cold Fun in the Sun!

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Another fun day in Vandalia! This past Saturday, we packed up and headed south for the fifth edition of Melting Mann, the gravel road race that doubles as one heckuva good time. 

Spring Break started early, but instead of short pants and sand, we had on a few layers and gravel in our teeth. Any event scheduled for March in Michigan is a crapshoot, and Melting Mann is seen a bit of everything over the past half decade. We'd call 2018 a bit of a draw; most of the course was dry, but it was dry because it was frozen solid. Temperatures didn't get above freezing until well after the race was over, but hey, it's Michigan; everyone on the line knew how to dress for the cold. 

The race had 35 mile and 24 mile options for racers, plus fat bike categories. It's always so cool to see the different bikes people pick for a race like this, and how some riders feel more comfortable on a fat bike or mountain bike, love a gravel bike, or stick with slicks on a traditional road bike. There's a sense of run-what-you-brung, which is especially cool in these types of weather conditions. We saw everything from brand-spankin' new carbon race bikes to one or two original steel fat bikes with all of nine speeds, and some old school 26ers with v-brakes! 

You can check out all the results from a very fun day right here

Next up, we're planning on earning our Easter dinner with The Dirty Thirty, a new race that will start and finish just a short trip east in Saranac. You can learn more about the race here. If your bike needs some love before Saturday, make sure you get your service scheduled so you don't miss any of the incredible riding weather on offer this week! Finally, Grand Rapids is going to get a sniff of 60 degrees and plenty of sun! 

With plenty of folks on the move for Spring Break, there's no clinic this Thursday, but keep your eyes peeled for a new series coming your way in April! 

 

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Book Your Tune-Up Online! The Best Thing To Hit The Internet Since Cat Videos

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People really like the Internet, and since we're thinking it might be sticking around, we're making it useful. Now, you can book your next tune-up with CDC on the world wide web. 

You're busy. And you like riding bikes. It's only natural that you'd like to know that when you drop off your bike, you're going to be at the top of the list to actually get said bike into a repair stand, tuned up, and back into your loving arms as soon as possible. We're making that easier by taking something that's famous for cats and viral videos and making it a tool in your bike repair experience. 

That's right, now you can book your service online, right here. The new system from Bike Bookings lets us be more efficient and more organized because we know what's coming in the door and when, getting us a head start on orders and giving us a better idea of what we can finish. 

Everything you need to tell us, you already know! The make and model of the bike, your contact info, and any notes about the repairs needed all make the process quick and simple. And with rainy, wet, and grimy riding on the way this spring, being quick and efficient with help make sure we get more of our customers in, out, and back on the trail. 

Don't forget, this is the last Thursday night Shifting Clinic before we take a pause over Spring Break. Learn more about shifters, cables, derailleurs, and all things drive train from Bob from 6-7pm. You can even bring your own bike and we'll show you what to pull, poke or pride for silent, smooth and buttery shifting. We'll also take a look at how to identify worn parts and how to judge when they might need to be replaced. 

Get your bike in before Melting Mann and Dirty Thirty, and you'll be riding a fresh bike for any event this spring! 

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March Gravel Goodness: Dirty Thirty and Melting Mann

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Spring means gravel in Grand Rapids, and we've got the best calendar of gravel events in the Midwest! Grinding season starts with Melting Mann and keeps rolling the following weekend with the first annual Dirty Thirty! 

We're as anxious as anyone to get out on the dirt this spring, but with the wicked freeze/thaw cycle in place, gravel roads are the easiest way to explore, get fit, and certainly race this time of the year. Our area has one of the best gravel race scenes around, with events all over West Michigan offering their own unique take on how to make a race tough and fun. Kicking off the local gravel season is Melting Mann. 

Located down in Vandalia, Melting Mann is entering its fifth year. With it's late March time slot, the weather has ranged from idyllic and warm, cold and rain, and downright frigid and snowy! Course conditions this time of year are very dynamic, making tire and gearing selection for the race always a part of the challenge, or part of the fun, depending on how you look at it. 

At over 90% gravel, Melting Mann is as pure a gravel challenge as you'll find in the state. Aside from some asphalt at the start/finish, the roads offer largely fast and smooth roads but a few important rough and technical two-tracks that often serve as the selection points in the 35 mile Long course. 

Melting Mann registration is wide open online, so get yourself signed up right here

If you can't make it on March 25, or if the first race only whetted your appetite, great news. The Dirty Thirty is another chance to get out and put down some power, this time even closer to home in Saranac, only a short drive from Grand Rapids. The race starts and finishes right downtown, heading north in the wide-open, wind-swept farm fields that surround the town. Expect crosswinds to split the field early, and watch for those gaps to open further as the race turns south and hits the hills near the river. 

Both events offer a short course for those who haven't been able to get many miles in this winter, or for folks that just want to see what gravel racing is all about. There really isn't a more accessible type or racing than gravel, and there's no better place to get into it than West Michigan. We are absolutely spoiled for great roads, great rides, and great races throughout the year, and it all gets started in March! 

If you've got questions about these races, gravel riding, or what the best bike for gravel roads might be for you, swing by and we'll show you all the bikes, tires, and more. 

Make sure you follow The Dirty Thirty and Melting Mann on Facebook for the most current weather and course updates, too. 

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My Kona: Wes' Kona Big Unit

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We're looking forward to spring, and some of us slightly more than others. Folks with new bikes, or bikes that have been built up as something new, are especially antsy. Wes' Kona Big Unit has him jonesing to shred, with a utilitarian build that's tough enough for a big season. 

The 2016 Kona Big Unit began as a frame and built up as a singlespeed. Heading into 2018, the bike is going to be the everyday shredder, race winner, and trail crusher for Wes. Because he travels a lot for work, the bike needs to be very easy to maintain, tough as nails, and be suited for any number of trail systems. 

The frame itself is a rarity these days, and hasn't been in production since 2016. It's made of 6069 scandium, which offers a springy steel ride but at a much lighter weight than even aluminum. The frame also spearheaded the now nearly universal sliding rear drop out that has swept the industry, making it easier to adjust your wheelbase to how you ride, as well as switch between singlespeed and gears. That choice is an easy one to make now, because it takes about 30 minutes to switch back and forth once you get the hang of doing it. 

Another big choice was to stick with the fully rigid Whisky fork. It takes off a bit of weight, sure, but with little maintenance or adjustment, it's also a bit of a time saver for a rider who admittedly puts his bikes away wet, mud, and quickly. 

That utilitarian theme extends to the drivetrain, where he's opted for 1x10 components with a tight 11-36 cassette. Putting in big miles means he'll through anywhere from four to six chains this summer, and 10 speed components add up to a lot of savings. He's gone with a SRAM GX groupset, paired with a 34t Wolf Tooth Oval chainring up front. There appears to be just a bit more room for a bigger ring, which may prove useful later in the season and in any potential gravel races. 

After a few years on ESI grips, he's back on ODI grips, a Prologo Novo saddle, Shimano SPD pedals, and RaceFace seatpost and bar. He's switching to an Easton 90mm -17 degree stem to lower the front end. 

The wheels are Stan's Crest with Schwalbe Racing Ralphs in a 2.25 front and rear. 

This bike weighs in at 23.1 pounds, not the lightest the world, but there's some weight to be shed from the crank when the need arises. 

What's your Kona story? Let us know about your bike, it's history, and why you love it and we can feature it on the site! Contact ilikefatbikes@gmail.com with your Kona photos and tall tales. 

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CDC Does Spring Break In Knoxville!

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Spring is a curious thing in Michigan. You can’t rely on anything when it comes to the weather, and even the tail end of March can be snowy and cold. You need a break, and we’re doing most of the planning.

This year, we’re heading south to Knoxville, Tennessee for Spring Break 2018! Get far enough south to enjoy the warmth, but close enough that the drive doesn’t eat up your whole weekend. Knoxville is home to a massive network of urban trails, most of then dirt, that winds through the whole city. We are packing up and bringing the tribe with us; meet up, catch up, and hang out with the CDC crew for three days of dirt riding!

Trail expert Courtney Joesel will be leading skill sessions and rides over the course of the three-day trip. She’s a certified expert who has already helped instruct riders at our Louisville MegaCaverns trip earlier this winter. Courtney is a ton of fun to ride with and everyone who gets time with her is a better rider for it.

Sound like fun? Call or stop by the shop for more details and to reserve your spot on the trip. Lodging rates and other expenses will be determined as we get a little closer to the trip and will depend largely on how many people are planning on joining.

Stay tuned for more information throughout March and make sure your bike is ready to rock!

You can get a taste of the Knoxville scene here. 

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Bike Stuff We Love This Valentine's Day

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Valentine's Day is almost here. If you're lucky enough to love someone who loves bikes, you know that getting flowers and chocolates isn't really going to cut it. Flowers die, chocolate disappears, and disappears quickly. Instead, we've picked out a few things that'll spice up your Valentine's Day and make your bike riding better, too. 

3 Toes Threadworks Top Tube Bag. Okay, here's how you give your sweetheart some chocolote. Fill up these hand-made top tube bags with something sweet, and once you're headed out for a ride, you can fill it with snacks, your phone, or whatever you want to have close at hang. 

Level 3 Tune-Up. February is the prime-time for service specials, and we've got the Bike Love offer going strong. Take 20% off a Level 3 service, and remember, nothing says "I care" like tightening someone's hubs for them. Faster turnaround time is just an added bonus! This time of the year is a great time to get your well-ridden fat bike back in shape, or get your gravel, road, or mountain ready for spring in just a few weeks. 

A Fat Bike. Yeah, this is how you really show you love someone, or how you get out of the doghouse for getting them a crockpot for Christmas. With in-stock fat bikes up to 35% off right now and plenty of winter left to make the most of one, it's the perfect chance to go fat. Rocky Mountain and Kona make some incredible bikes, and once you throw a leg over one, you'll get it. You can see our current stock list here. 

Have a great week, a Happy Valentine's Day, and we'll see you on the trails! 

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Fat Nats Weekend In Grand Rapids

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Trust us, you're busy this weekend. CDC rolls deep into the idea of February with a celebration of all things bike, with trail-talk, great racing, and the perfect weather for what's on tap. 

The Fat Bike National Championships are back in Grand Rapids this weekend with a new venue and the perfect stage for not one, but two days of racing at Cannonsburg Ski Area. This year, we've got plenty of snow and some frigid conditions in the forecast all week that will help make sure the course is snowy, fast, and a ton of fun. 

Things kick off Friday night at Cannonburg with a unique chance to meet MTB legend Dave Wiens. The current IMBA Executive Director will be at the ski hill from 7-9pm to talk about everything from his six consecutive Leadville 100 wins, his work with IMBA, and thoughts about fat bikes, eBikes, and anything else we talk about. It's a great chance to come down and join the West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance, learn about trail organizations, and get excited for the rest of weekend! 

Saturday is the big day, with Fat Bike National Championships running throughout the morning and into the afternoon. Races start at 9a, 11a, 1p, and 3.30p, with awards throughout the day. The weather this week couldn't be more ideal, with temps in the 20s and some snow in the forecast for Thursday and Friday. Expect perfect conditions for the race! 

You can see who is signed up for what by checking out the current registration list here. 

The fun keeps going Saturday night with live music from The Bootstrap Boys in the Bear Creek Room at Cannonsburg from 7-10pm!

Don't stay up too late, though, because Sunday is just as action-packed. Winter Rush brings you another day of racing at Cannonsburg starting at 11am. Multiple categories and distances to choose from, and all on a course packed in from the previous day. 

You can stay up to speed with Winter Rush at Cannonsburg on the

Registration for Sunday's races is open here. 

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Bike Love: 20% Off Service Special Through Valentine's Day!

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We're rolling into Februry, the month of love, passion, and Fat Bike Nationals. 

It's also a great time to get your bike tuned up. Whether you're trying to dial your winter rig back into shape after snow miles or salty commutes or getting your fair-weather bike ready for spring, February is perfect. It's a quicker turnaround, and now, we're making it even better with 20% off our Level 3 Tune Up! 

-Washing crankset, chain, cassette, front and rear derailleur in an industrial parts cleaner

-Also includes installation of new chain and cassette
-Bike wash
-True and tension wheels
-Adjust front and rear hubs
-Check and adjust Bottom bracket
-Check and adjust headset bearings
-Adjust brakes and gears
-Wipe down the frame and lube chain.
-Check and tighten all bolts
-Check and inflate tires

There's plenty to get ready for this month, too. Of course, we're really excited about USA Cycling's Fat Bike Nationals on February 10, followed by Winter Rush at Cannonsburg the following day. It's a full weekend of fat bikes, and such a cool opportunity to bring our cycling community together in the dead of winter. 

And it looks as though winter is coming back, too. After two weeks of unseasonably warm weather, there is snow in the forecast and consistently cold temperatures that should make our weekend of racing a big success, as well as our daily riding much more fun. If you're still looking to get out on a fat bike this winter, you're in luck. We have all 2017 fat bikes up to 35% off, with even a select few 2018 models on discount as well. In the snow and all summer long, you'll love your Rocky Mountain or Kona fat bike, and we've got some sweet rigs to get you out there. 

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Support The Trails with Central District Cyclery and WMMBA

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It's a new year, and we're really looking forward to so many rides, races, and unforgettable days on the bike. We're extremely fortunate to have some many different and diverse trail systems in West Michigan, and one organization to thank for it. West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance helps build, maintain, and protect trails all over our region, and in doing so, they give us places to go out and ride year-round. 

WMMBA is our local International Mountain Bike Association chapter and works to advocate in the interest of mountain bikers at the local, state, and federal level. They also play a huge role in growing our mountain bike community through events and clinics. WMMBA's efforts are maintained primarily through membership dues and donations from people who just really love riding. 

In 2018, we've pledged to donate $15 for every mountain bike sold straight to WMMBA. We proud to join a number of local business that work to keep our trail builders building, and help to protect the unity of our mountain bike community by coming together to support the folks who support our trails. 

Any mountain, any time this season, and your new bike day will do everyone just a bit of good. 

You can help today by buying a bike, but if that's not happening soon enough, you can become a member of WMMBA and add your voice to the community. 

To learn more about WMMBA head here. Be sure to join us at Cannonsburg on Friday, February 9 to meet IMBA Executive Director and mountain bike legend Dave Wiens. 

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No Tubes, No Problems: Tubeless Tires and YOU!

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Tubeless is everywhere; from fat bikes, mountain bikes, and road bikes, fewer and fewer riders rely on tubes when they ride. Believe it or not, just how tubeless rims and tires work is a bit mystifying. Don't worry! Bob breaks it down here, and he'll show you how it works in real life at this week's tubless clinic! 

What makes a rim tubeless ready?

A tubeless ready rim will have a sidewall with a hooked design, which helps catch and hold the bead. Older rims will appear rounded without a hook shape. The shape of the rim will force the bead up snug against the outer hook, and will have a deep section in the middle to make it easier to remove.

The most reliable tubeless systems are those marked UST (Uniform System Tubeless standard). Rims and tires must meet a certified standard to use the UST label. A UST tire will have a square shaped bead to match the UST rim. Inside the tire carcass will be a butyl liner, basically inner tube material formed into the inside carcass of the tire body. This extra material does make the tire heavier compared to non-UST tires.

UST rims will have either no nipple holes in the rim tire bed, or these holes will be completely sealed. The UST rim bead seat is designed to accept and hold the beads of the UST tires. UST tires can be used on a UST rim without tire sealants. The most common brand to use UST rims/tires is Mavic.

You must use a tubeless ready/UST tire and rim for the appropriate seal.

Best tubeless rim tape?

The best rim tapes will vary from person to person. In the end, I think that any company that produces specific tubeless rim tape will work just fine. I prefer a more pliable tape when setting up a new wheel. My preferred tape isn’t actually tape at all. I love using the Effetto Mariposa Caffelatex rim strip. Made using a proprietary polymer blend, Caffélatex Strip has very high mechanical strength and resistance to punctures. It’s also very stable from a chemical standpoint and cannot be damaged by water or sealant. They are also reuseable. Because they have don’t have a memory, changing the strips from different wheels have very little effect on the sealing properties. This method is by far my choice when setting up fat bike wheels. Because of the exposed spoke nipples, using tubeless tape can be very tricky to get a proper seal. With the Caffelatex strips, they set flush to the rim with very few imperfections. If I had to use tape, I’d either use the Velocity tape or Stans. The Stan’s tape is slightly more pliable than the Velocity, to help reduce creasing in the tape. However, I don’t feel as the Stan’s tape holds up as well as the Velocity tape.

Tubeless tire choices?

Pretty much every company in the bicycle tire industry offers some sort of tubeless tire. In my experiences, if a company makes a tubeless specific rim and tire, using the same brand for both applications is ideal. Obviously, you can mix and match but the easiest tubeless setups are when I use the same company for rim and tire choices. Mavic’s UST system, in my opinion, is the least problematic, and the easiest to set up.

A very useful tip when setting up and new tire to a rim is to unpackage the tire and lay it flat on the floor for a few hours to let the tire take shape. New folding tires can be a pain to set up, because of the way they’re packaged.

Tubeless sealant?

There are a ton of sealant options. I really like the Orange Seal, but they do have a tendency to clog the valve stems far more often than other sealants. Orange Seal Sealant consists of multiple sizes and shapes of solid particles or what they call "nanites". When a puncture occurs, the nanites quickly seal the hole keeping the air in the tire and you rolling down the trail or road. They mix the nanites with their proprietary latex sealant to co-exist with the nanites and prevent added clotting.

The Stan’s sealant (preferrably the Extreme sealant) works well for most conditions. Instead of the “nanites” Stan’s uses something more similar to fine grit sand. I think that it dries up more quickly than other companies. I also feel that I have to add a decent amount more during the initial set up than other brands.

Our preferred sealant here is the Serfas Tire Medic sealant. It works very similarly to Orange Seal and Stan’s, the one exception is that the clotting particle is more similar to tiny fibers.

Tubeless valve stem?

There are a billion different companies making tubeless valve stems. I’ve not found any that really work better than others. The only exception that I’ve found is the Mavic UST valves when used with the Mavic rims. Velocity valve stems work very well as long as the inner channel of the rim allows for proper fitment. DON’T FORGET TO TIGHTEN THE LOCKNUT!

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Riding into the New Year! with Courtney Joesel

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We're way into 2018, and it's time to look up and look ahead to what we want to do this year. Courtney took a look at what has her motivated to ride, improve, and be happier this season, and her thoughts might jump start your ambitions! 

Now that the holiday season has passed and I am able to take a breath from the stress, it is time to start getting into my new routine.  I made a decision this past November/December, I was going to focus on getting my body healthy and honing in on some of my mountain biking skills.  I took time to look back at my riding season last year.  What did I like about it? What did I not like about it? What do I want to accomplish with my riding this coming year?   So let's explore….

What did I like about my riding season last year? I loved that amazing places I was able to travel to and the amazing people I was able to meet.  My goal last year was to just ride and figure out what the definition of fun would be for each ride because that changes constantly. Sometimes I just wanted to be outdoors and try to figure out the different trees in the trail, just laugh and talk with another rider cruising around, or maybe it was just to feel like bike moving below me as I tried to corner in different ways, or maybe it was pushing my self up some climbs to see if I could beat my previous time.  Fun was different for every ride.

What did I not like about my season last year? I let fear take over.  The thing I say over and over again about what mountain biking does for me is that it pushes me out of my comfort zone.  Well, I seemed to lose sight of that a bit this past year.  Maybe it was because I was stressed in lots of other places in my life and I needed that comfort zone….who knows.  I found myself avoiding things that I had done before that had been no big deal, but I just felt scared. I let excuses be my MO. 

What do I want to accomplish with my riding this coming year? Finding that confidence and work on my bike handling skills.  That is a pretty loaded goal.  But so what do I think that will look like for me? I want to be able to go on a ride and be comfortable with the idea that I am capable and that I do belong there.  I want to be able to feel like the bike is also an extension of my body and I can understand more of what I am feeling and manipulate it.  I feel like for me this year, those to concepts go hand in hand.  To understand my body and bike handling will hopefully increase my confidence that I can push myself.  

Now it’s time to ask yourself those same questions:  What did I like about it? What did I not like about it? What do I want to accomplish with my riding this coming year?  

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Warm Mitts For Any Weather: Serfas Subpolar Glove Review

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James put the Serfas Subpolar glove through the rigors of a frigid few weeks in Grand Rapids. Thi is his story. 

BRRRR!!! It sure has been cold lately and that can make it difficult to get out for a ride. Difficult but not impossible, all depends on the gear you suit up in to brave those frigid days. There are so many different options out there for all the parts of the body to be covered but the part that counts the most is your sweet little hands that do all the things you want done. So why not make sure they’re nice and cozy? Exactly what a lot of people think which is why that body part gets the most options on ways to stay warm!

Even though there are so many options out there to talk about I want to focus on one particular one, the Serfas Subpolar glove. I’ve been using these gloves for a couple winters now and I gotta tell ya, they are fan-freakin-tastic! As a matter of fact, they’re so good that I actually use them for everyday winter use and not just riding. These babies keep my 10 little digits feeling warm even done into single digit temps like we’ve been experiencing for like the past month. Granted there is some slight cold when I first start moving on a ride but once the blood is pumping away with my vigorous efforts my hands are perfectly fine for the duration.

You may be asking “what makes these gloves so great?” Well for starters they’re windproof and waterproof (2 things that are quite necessary this time of year!), fleece lined for extra warmth, gel padded like regular cycling gloves for comfort, and they’re touch screen compatible. Now for the real kicker, they’re less than $50!! All those great features and a great price!? Sounds like a win to me! Oh and remember how I said I’ve been using them for a couple winters? Yeah, they’re still full of life and will probably see a couple more (barring I don’t eat it and destroy them, fingers crossed) so they’ve got an incredible life span on top of those already great features. The one downside to these amazing gloves is that they’re not waterproof in a downpour rain situation like during the 2017 Barry Roubaix but that was more a personal lesson learned and not the fault of the gloves.

Maybe thick gloves aren’t your thing for winter riding. Maybe you’re a person that likes to wear a thin glove while having poogies on your bike. Maybe you like the lobster claw style glove. Maybe you like to wear mittens and use chemical warmers in them. Whatever you’re flavor may be, its never a bad idea to keep your mitts warm! There are many different options out there. The Serfas Subpolar glove just happens to be my go-to gloves for winter conditions. If you want to ride in the cold, but can’t keep your hands warm during a ride, I strongly suggest giving these a try!

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