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Support the Trails with West Michigan Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance

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We love riding. Central District Cyclery is all about mountain bikes, and the more trails we have, the better.

If variety is the spice of life, then we’ve got it made in our neck of the woods, and a lot of that is down to the hard-work of the West Michigan Mountain Bike Alliance. WMMBA and its volunteers maintain a dozen trails in area, from Hammond Hill to Yankee Springs to Luton and Merrell, they put in countless hours of work to maintain, protect, and expand trail systems in West Michigan.

All those trails and all that work adds up, and while there are plenty of trail days and work bees that offer you the chance to lend a hand, oftentimes the biggest thing you can do is join as an Ally. Adding your name to the roster lends strength to the organization, offers vital funds for things as simple as gas to as big and ambitious as the GR Bike Park!

Here at CDC, we donate $25 for every mountain bike sold at the shop. It’s just our way of helping to ensure that we all have a place to ride today, tomorrow, and for decades to come, but it’s just one part of the process. We encourage everyone who rides to join as an Ally, and stay involved with WMMBA as we build for the future!

For more information, make sure you head over to wmmba.org, where you’ll not only find out where to join, but also see the latest updates on trail conditions on the home page, check out events, and a lot more.

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Foil That Bike Thief: Some Tips on Stopping Bike Crime

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There has been a wave of bike thefts in Grand Rapids over the past few weeks of months. The weather is good, everyone is riding, and whether you're tossing your bikes on a rack to get the trailhead or just running inside quickly for a coffee on your way to work, the scum of the earth is always lurking. We wanted to offer just a few ideas on how to make sure your bike is as safe as possible. 

Lock It UpNo, you lock it up! I know what you're think, 'No kidding'. But what kind of lock you use can make a huge difference. A lighter cable lock is the most portable for your commute, and if you're just stopping for five minutes for a coffee or to drop off a library book, you're probably okay. Anything longer, and we'd recommend investing in a steel U-lock; and if you have both, use both. Many bike thieves use different methods for these two locks, and it's slightly less likely they'll have both, have time to use both, and can cut both without be spotted. 

Stay Where Daddy Can See You. Whenever possible, lock up your bike in view. Even if it's from a window of a co-workers' office, the break room, or through the door of the coffeeshop, having it visible means you'll be able to see anyone lingering near your bike, and other people will be able to spot suspicious activity, too. PRO TIP: If you're in a place people know you, park in the same spot every day so they might be able to notice strange activity. However, it can also be good to park your bike in different spots so a casual thief can't rely on coming back for it if they were scared off the first time. 

Add More Protection. Bike on your car rack? Yeah, that little rubber or nylon strap isn't deterring anyone. Just as many bikes are stolen off cars, so even if your rack as a locking mechanism, considering adding U-lock or cable lock to its arsenal to make it a bit more daunting. Especially if it's a trunk rack that can literally be taken off in a minute or two, you need to offer some kind of road block; trying running a lock to any tow points below the bumper using think cord to lengthen your lock. 

Register Your Bike. If someone rips of your rig, it might just be for a joy ride. Register your bike and there's a slim chance you may be reunited if the bike ever ends up in the hands of the law. 

Be Vigilant and Communicate. Watch for any suspicious behavior, keep track of who rides what, and if you see photos of stolen bikes, keep your eyes peeled and help find them. Share posts or photos of stolen bikes on social media, too; perhaps the best way to deter theft is to make it clear that ripping off someone's Kona means living a life in the shadows, with all of Grand Rapids watching for the thief to slip up. 

 

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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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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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Look Out For The West Michigan Coyotes!

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We've had a blast watching the West Michigan Coyotes this summer! Central District Cyclery is working with West Michigan Riders and Breakaway Bicycles to support this composite group of shredders from all over the West Michigan area. 

The squad is comprised of kids ranging from 6th to 12th grade with an interest in taking on the MiSCA MTB Series. The most recent stop was just north of Grand Rapids at Cannonsburg, where the Coyotes had 15 riders take on a tough course and 95-degree temperatures to take in a whole slew of podiums and plenty of smiles. 

Our riders don't just hop in for races. The team has a dedicated group of parents and volunteers that host practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays at a variety of local trails that help develop a full skillset for our racers. Fitness, technical skill, and basic maintenance and repairs all add up to the team's agenda. The ability to take any terrain is important, with the MiSCA calendar taking racers all over the state. 

The final MiSCA race of the year is October 8 at Brighton, and we're excited to see how the Coyotes perform. They have a few more weeks of practice and one big race to cap off an exciting season. 

Follow the Coyotes and wish them luck on their Facebook page right here! 

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Top Five Hand-Up Foods For Elite, Serious Cyclocross Racers

Cyclocross demands a commitment to training and diet, and that extends past the weeks and months of #crossiscoming right into the very middle of the event. We've selected the important foods and drinks you need to peak, bro. 

First off, if you eat or drink when you're on a bike, that food or drink becomes known as 'nutrition', which is like food but with all the fun sucked out of it. Triathletes loves nutrition, and they're known to stuff it strange places. But they have to, because their shirts don't have pockets. 

Anyway, this 'nutrition' can make or break your day between the tape, so we've picked our top five favorite hand-ups. Take this as the gospel, and make sure they're on your grocery list heading into the weekend. This is especially important, as you'll most likely be performing hand-ups for others before or after your race, and in a shark/lamprey type of symbiotic relationship, you'll rely on others to provide hand-ups for you. Don't let them down. 

1. Pea Soup. Pea soup is a powerhouse food that combines an appealing green color with a refreshing pea flavor that's sure to help you dig deep. Served boiling hot (i.e. scalding) and with some cilantro as garnish, try to splash it in your friend's face early and often so they are properly fueled. Super Soakers work well. 

2. Twinkies. Packed with sugar and other important nutrients like synthetic cream and yellow dye 12,242 the quick-shot energy from a Twinkie is tough to beat. It's also soft, so if the person has to grab the bar in a panic after taking the hand-up, it squashes neatly and poops out its creamy filling. Don't worry, they'll still be able to eat it after they take the next turn, and they'll likely have bits of it in their bar tape for weeks to come. 

3. Veggie Burgers. In today's diet-conscious environment, we suggest ditching the traditional bacon hand-up in favor of a more environmentally alternative. No animal cruelty, a reduced impact on resources, and plenty of flavor options make this a much more green option to protein-rich cyclocross nutrition. Most people like Spicy Black Bean, but you can really stand out from the crowd by going for the Garden Veggie version. 

4. Cookies. Everyone loves cookies. We're not going to even try to joke about this one. Bring cookies. 

5. Boone's Farm Wine Coolers. Look, beer has been done guys. We get it, Hamm's, PBR, all great. I mean, since you can't get a good urine-flavored can of Schlitz in Michigan (can you?) those are solid alternatives. But Boone's Farm goes down like a Kool-Ade and offers a tasteful nostalgia for simpler times. Junior year of high school, some wine coolers, a sunny day, Rebecca...oh she was a good girl...but we're getting away from the topic. (I'll wait for you, Rebecca)

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Put your nutrition and preparation to the test this Sunday at KissCross at Richmond Park. We'll be there. With a cooler. 

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Adventure! Into The Wild with James, Chris and Dave

While Nate put on the Short's Brewing MTB  Series opener in Suttons Bay, James led a fearless expedition into the wild with Dave and Chris. 

After a long spring of Adventure Series bikepacking nights, James led our first bikepacking trip of the season. Scheduling anything in May is an adventure in and of itself, but aside from some seasonably chilly nights, it was warm and dry for the three brave explorers. 

Some special propers for Chris T., who showed up and joined in as a first-timer. Mile for mile and pedal stroke for pedal stroke, he was up for anything and made two new friends and brought a spark of eagerness that was greatly appreciated. 

The trip started with 42 miles to the first campsite, taken at an easy pace to open up the legs. After setting everything up, the guys rolled out for another 27 miles of fun, exploring the Hardy Dam and Coolbough Natural Area. It was tough pedaling, but the views and terrain was totally worth it. 

After an evening at the local public house and a night of much-appreciated rest, the guys rolled out on some season roads that went from smooth and fast to deep, soft and sandy. It was a goo mix of 'cross bikes (including a Kona Jake the Snake) and Chris' well-chosen Rocky Mountain Blizzard, which proved a great option for the bushwhacking and sand-crossing of such an adventure.

All in all, over 110 miles of exploration and fun, and three pretty tired but happy dudes! 

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The Little Things: Getting Picky On Accessories

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Folks in the bike world are notoriously picky, and that shouldn't be a surprise. The industry that gave you guidelines on pedal alignment for pictures of your bike, rules to match your seat and bar tape, and athletes looking for 'marginal gains' are bound to have some pretty strong opinions on things like bottle cages. 

This weekend, getting ready to Barry-Roubaix and knowing full well that every item on bike and person would be tested by rain, grit, mud, and cold, we took a step back and thought about just why some of the things we get so excited about matter so much. Heading into the squalls and harsh conditions, surely there was an element of comfort knowing our meticulously selected things would stand up to the challenge. 

Here are a few of the small things that, we think, add up. 

1. Bottle cages. It's something that you start to get a preference for right about when you lose a bottle on a long, hard day in the saddle. There are several camps; die-hard King Cage fanatics, nostalgic ELITE Ciussi fans, Velocity cage adherents, and plenty of others, too. It's not unusual to walk into your buddy's garage and notice that he's got Whisky C3 carbon cages on his road, mountain, fat and urban bike...because you need to keep your '73 Varsity lightweight. 

2. Bar tape. This one is actually a pretty big deal. If you're spending 62 miles on wet gravel and tossing yourself and your bike over unseen and water-filled potholes, you want as smooth of a ride as possible. We're still fans of good ol' fashioned cork tape. It's easy to install, lasts just long enough to get sick of the color and change it, plus it feels great even after some big miles. There are also plenty of other options, including Lizard Skins, with multiple thicknesses and about as many color options as a bookcase at IKEA. 

3. Tires. This is a tough one. No matter what bike you're on, it's nice to have a few options to meet the demands of different terrain. But everyone still has a go-to that they trust for a wide variety of terrain or conditions. The Schwalbe G-One, for example, gets about 2,000 miles on my gravel bike a year, from late February until spring. You'll also find people that wouldn't imagine running anything but WTB, or Continental, or Panaracer tires. If something works, and works well, you have a hard time getting people to try something else. 

What about you? What are some products you stick with, no matter that?

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The Adventure Series: New Places, Tremendous Stories, Unforgettable Trips

This spring, CDC is rolling out an entire series of shop nights dedicated to the art of bikepacking. Find out about a fun, inclusive, and endless adventurous way to take your bike new places. 

The bike is a vehicle to so many things. From just getting around to world-class racing, somewhere the aspect of adventure tends to get lost in the shuffle. We lead busy, hectic lives, too, and we don't take the time to look at the bicycle as a way to escape the city limits, our daily habits, and our dedication to routine. 

With that in mind, we've put together a couple of nights a month to invite you to the shop, have a beer, and learn with us. We'll go through what can make a bikepacking trip more fun, less stressful, and perhaps a little safer, too. We'll cover what to bring and how to bring, how to find your way, and what to do if things get a little wet and wild with weather. 

Of course, preparation with a chance to put what you've learned into action is pointless. We've earmarked a few weekends that we'll meet up and head out for an overnight ride. Get somewhere new, spend time with wonderful people, and breakaway from the expected routine. Once you're prepared, we think you'll find it's something you absolutely love. 

Head over to shop calendar and look for all the Adventure Series events, starting with March 30's first intro to bikepacking from 7-8pm. After that, we'll spend a few nights preparing ahead of our first overnight from May 13 to May 14. There's also info on the Rocky Mountain Demo days, and plenty more. 

We hope you'll join us on a trip or two! 

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Meet The Crew: James Gunderman, Sales/Mustaches.

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Name: James Gunderman
Age: 33
Job Title: Lead Sales
Astrological Sign: Capricorn
Baggies or Spandex: Spandex all the way

1. What was your first bike? Tell us about it.

Well, I don't remember what my actual first bike was since I was just a wee lad but I do remember what bike got me into cycling. It was a mid 80's Schwinn Worldsport. I stripped it down, repainted it, threw some upgrades on then ride that baby all over for a year before upgrading to a fancier machine. Still have it too.

Although it has changed into my single speed and doesn't see as much as action as it should I'll probably keep it forever.

2. Where is your favorite place to ride in West Michigan?

Pretty much any dirt road I can find. Other than that I thoroughly enjoy the stretch of Leonard between GR and Grand Haven.

3. What's the one piece of equipment, one tool, or one piece of tech you recommend to everyone?

Hand pump. Whether it's CO2 or a manual, never leave home without it. Flats can happen anywhere, anytime and you can generally patch it with just about anything to limp back home but if you don't have a way to put pressure back then you're screwed.

4. How would you describe Central District Cyclery? What's the vibe like?

My take on it is that it's a lot of bike shop in a little space; you're going to get great service without being overwhelmed by product. There's a sense of community there that you just don't find much of these days.

5. How long have you been riding bikes? What got you into it?

Going on 6 now. The sense of freedom that comes with riding is what got me started but after my first race I was completely hooked and the rest is history. 

6. If you could pick any 2017 bike that's out or coming out, what would it be? 

The Kona Sutra LTD we currently have in the window at the shop is really calling my name! 

7. Do you have a beard? Why or why not?

In the winter, yes because it keeps my face nice and warm. The rest of the year I tend to go with just a stache.

8. Favorite beer? (There ARE wrong answers to this) 

I sure am a sucker for espresso. I've been hitting up all the local coffee shops trying to find the best one in town and so far Rowster's has been my favorite.

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Winter Biking

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Winter Biking

A big part of riding outside in the Winter happens to be nocturnal. Riding bikes at night is a ridiculous amount of fun. Granted, you need to have decent lighting. A simple handlebar and helmet light will do the trick. In my experience, around 300-400 lumens is ideal where having more, seems to be too sharp and make funny shadows. While I have not crunched the Strava mileage, I am pretty sure that I have logged more night miles than day miles at Merrell Trail in Rockford.

Here is a preview I regularly post pics when out riding follow me @kentwatwit and @centraldistrictcyclery on Instagram.

 

-Kent

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