When I was growing up, my grandfather used to refer to some people by saying, “he was a good guy”. I’m not sure what lead me to understanding what he was referring to, but somehow I inherently knew what that meant. It had something to do with being nice, honest, genuine, and truly caring about people around him. Being a “good guy” was about the person’s character, not just about their performance.
This weekend, Fitzgerald’s is losing one of our “good guys”, Micheal Woodruff. We are so happy for the opportunity in front of him, and are thankful we’ll still get to see him regularly up at Grand Targhee as he takes on his new role as the Summer and Winter rental shop manager. This is a great professional move for Michael and we’re here cheering him on!
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been celebrating the lives of friend’s we’ve lost all too soon. Well, I want to take a minute to celebrate one of the “good guys” we still have right in front of us. If you’ve been in Fitzy’s over the last 3 years, you have certainly been affected by the big smile, and welcoming laugh of Micheal. You’ve probably walked away from the shop feeling a bit more stoked for having interacted with a bike mechanic who might have acted a little different than his outward appearance lead you to expect. A rough and tumble exterior can’t mask his jovial nature more than a second or two!
Over my 20 years in the retail bike business, I’ve come across a lot of mechanics and developed a pretty strong idea of what makes someone a “pro” mechanic and not just a “good” mechanic. A pro mechanic of course has deep technical knowledge and can trouble shoot everything from a coaster brake to the latest electronic shifting parts. But a good mechanic can do that too. What separates the good, from the pro, in my humble opinion, is the ability to connect with customers. In the heat of battle, when a mechanic’s back is against the wall and the pressure is on to fix more bikes than hours in the day allow, the pro mechanic continues to greet each customer with genuine enthusiasm and concern for their situation. The laughs and smiles come just as easy, and the customer walks away feeling that their problems are now truly the mechanics problems too. You can train for the technical knowledge, but it takes being a “good guy” at heart to reach the pro status.
Micheal is the definition of the pro mechanic. Greeting most customers by name (even if he hasn’t worked with them in years), remembering little details about their bikes, staying late to get someone out of town for a road trip, coming in on days off to tie up loose ends, and sharing a belly laugh along with bike maintenance advice are just a few of the things he does with ease. Does he get frustrated like the rest of us? Sure, how could you be human and not be frustrated as a bike mechanic from time to time? But having the ability to keep the customer stoked and happy amidst the frustration is what matters. Micheal has that skill down to a T!
This weekend is the last time we’ll have Mr. Woodruff spinning wrenches and cracking jokes behind the service counter at Fitzy’s. Come by and let him know how much he means to you if you get the chance. Take a minute to celebrate the awesomeness of someone right in front of you! Reflect on what it means to be a good guy, and give some stoke back to the one who delivers it more than anyone.
Thanks for the years of awesome service Micheal!
Last weekend I was given the opportunity to speak about someone I deeply admire, and consider to be a superhero. Unfortunately the setting was his memorial service. What follows is the text of what I delivered on behalf of AJ Linnell. If you have a chance, please take the time to enjoy more of his writing at: http://ajplayingwithgravity.blogspot.com/
I can’t tell you when I first met AJ, knowing him was just a part of living in Teton Valley. But I can tell you there is a very clear distinction, in my mind, of the time before AJ joined our biking community and the time after AJ joined our biking community. The time after AJ joined the biking community is waaaaay better. He became a big part of our bike racing team and an inspiration to me, and everyone (I mean everyone) who got to know him through mountain bike racing. But he sort of came out of nowhere for a lot of us.
Seriously, one year he walked into the bike shop and said, “I’m going to start singlespeed racing”. OK, I thought, sure, he’s one of those fun haters. You know “Fun Hater”: someone who goes out to suffer, brag about their suffering, quick to tell you how they finished the event despite how hard it was, and all that woe is me kinda stuff. Why else would you take all the gears off your bike and go race for a hundred miles over the most mountainous trails in the country. You have to hate fun to race singlespeed mountain bikes.
But that was my thinking before AJ joined our biking community. Once I started to get to know AJ a bit more I realized how wrong I was about pinning him as a Fun Hater. Turns out, AJ was the biggest fun LOVER I have probably ever met – it’s just that his definition of fun was everyone elses worst nightmare on a bike!
From AJ’s blog:
“There’s mud in my teeth, in my hair, packed in my ears and working its way behind my sunglasses into my eyes, but as long as I lay off the brakes and embrace gravity none of it matters. This is mountain biking, and I love it.”
Everyone who knew AJ in the biking world says a variation on the same quotes I heard this week
“wow, that guy was sooo fast but sooo humble and cool.”
“He was one of those totally rare guys who could be both super fun to be with in heated competition with AND just go out and have a casual fun ride with.”
“Nothing ever phased that guy”
“In the finish area is where racers usually show their worst side. When a race doesn’t go as planned people can lose it and really make a scene. Not AJ, I NEVER saw that guy get upset – always a class act.”
“regardless of his results, he was always there at the finish line to give a high five and congratulate a friend”
In 2012 AJ won his first big singlespeed ultra endurance race, the High Cascade Classic in Oregon. 100 miles, 12,000’ of climbing, 8 hours, 16 minutes, and 12 seconds. You have to hear it from AJ himself. If you not as familiar with this side of AJ, I hope this gives you a little insight into his passion for singlespeed racing:
“3am was dark, cold, and early. The starting area at 5am was still dark, cold, and early, although a bit more lively. When the clock started at 5:30, dawn had just broken and I was questioning my decision not to wear a vest in addition to arm-warmers. (more…)
Bike Shop for Sale.
Jannine and I have loved being bike shop owners. Fitzgerald’s Bicycles has provided our family an incredibly fulfilling 13 years and we could not feel more fortunate to have developed such amazing relationships and positive community impact through the shop. We also could not not be more happy about what Fitzgerald’s has become – more than just a bike shop, a piece of the community. We are still committed to building the very best bike shop possible, but now that means finding the best new stewards of Fitzgerald’s as we look to start a new chapter in our lives.
How did we get here?
In 2002 I started Fitzgerald’s Bicycle Repair as a one man repair shop to get through a Summer or two while I figured out my next moves in life (funny, I now have a handful of bike shop owner friends around the country who have the same story and are now 10+ years into shop ownership). Immediately, the shop was busy and I was loving the fast pace of a small business start-up. The phone was ringing, customers were asking for new products to buy from me, and before long I had a few friends working along side me (including my future wife Jannine). The experiment seemed to be working so we bit off a bigger space from Snake River Brewing in Jackson and started to carry inventory in all categories. A few bike sales turned into many and before long the shop was full service, and year round. Our business strategy? Respond to customer demand and try to keep up!
Passion for Cycling Advocacy
An interesting thing happened along the way. Jannine and I discovered that the community bicycles help foster is just as important as the experience of riding them. We were always passionate about riding bikes, but now we had become passionate about what bicycles created. We grew from mountain bikers to cyclists, and then into bicycle advocates. The shop became a hub of cycling advocacy in the Tetons, and our energy was directed to cycling infrastructure projects as much as it was toward product buying decisions. Instead of the shop being simply a way to provide a financial outcome for our family, it became a way to foster community development and our personal passion for it. A new Mission Statement was born: Fitzgerald’s Bicycles exists to grow Cycling, Community, and Respect for the Planet.
Over the years the shop grew, more employees were hired, more square footage was added, and a new home base was found in Victor, ID.
Our passion for Fitzgerald’s Bicycles didn’t fade, but our passion for bicycle advocacy and community development intensified. With that came the realization that it is time to pass the torch of Fitzgerald’s Bicycles to someone new who can be the steward of the shop and see it grow to the next level it, and the community, deserves.
Passing the torch
Why did we move the shop to Victor? Because we knew Fitzgerald’s could not survive past us, as the shop it had become, in Jackson. We love the Jackson community, but the high price of doing business there would not allow for a long term, full service, community, “bikes only” shop. We wanted to see the shop out live our time with it, and that meant finding it a more stable location. Our move to Victor was the first step in a long term plan to pass the torch to new owners.
The shop is doing awesome in Victor! Our move to Teton Valley has been very positive, Fitzgerald’s is back to “Jackson volume” of business, and it is well positioned for the next level of growth and success. We are proud of the brand that Fitzgerald’s has become and the level of service our amazing staff provides. We are not looking to sell at all costs and we are not moving personally from Teton Valley. We are simply looking for someone new to be the steward of the shop so we can start a new chapter in our own lives.
Until the right buyer comes along, we’ll be right here taking care of business as always, and fired up to do so! Preparing the shop for new ownership has only intensified our desire to create the very best bike shop possible for our customers and employees! We love Fitzgerald’s so much that we want to set it up for long term success.
When the bike shop does sell, Jannine and I will still be right in the middle of community development through cycling in the Tetons. But, we will also be diving into new opportunities to impact the whole country through cycling advocacy and business development. As a preview, check out our new children’s book project, B is for Bicycles, that successfully funded on Kickstarter over the holidays.
Without the incredible support of our awesome customers and employees, we could not have built the shop that Fitzgerald’s has become. There really are no words to express the depth of our gratitude. You are what makes Fitzgerald’s what it is, not us. Your role in the development of the shop, and the cycling community around the Tetons, has been critical. Please keep supporting the shop through this transition. Fitzgerald’s is for sale, but Jannine and I are here until we find the next owner who will take care of you even better than we have! If that might be you, drop us a line and let’s talk! email@example.com
We hope you appreciate our desire to take the next step in our lives and you continue to support Fitzgerald’s as always.
See you at the shop.
With a small posse of friends, Pole Canyon was the destination ride for the evening. Not one of us had ever ridden up Pole Canyon. I had hiked to the top years before, but always considered it to be too steep and rough to ride. Encouraged by reports of the “easy” new reroute sections, our little group headed out one evening after work. Right out of the gate, I was pleasantly surprised by the lovely buff single track. The trail climbed up the valley occasionally merging with the old track with its roots and rock. The grade was fairly sustained with very few sections to take a breather (or get out of granny gear!). The re-routed sections were mostly smooth with the newest reroute adding some big, fat sweeping turns. The upper part of the climb was all on the old trail with its full complement of loose rock, big roots and smooth dirt. This is also where the trail broke out of the trees and through some really pretty meadows. There were some small patches of snow and mud near the top. A nice, thick cornice marked the end of biking at the summit of the climb. We parked the bikes and hiked up the snow to take in the cool views and plan further rides into this awesome corner of the neighborhood. Layers were donned as we hiked back down to our bikes and joyfully descended back down to the trailhead. The big sweeping turns of the newest reroute were so fun, I just had holler with glee at the top of my lungs. Our ride was less than two hours including plenty of chatting and photo taking. It’s a fun new addition to my ‘after work specials’! The next TVTAP trail day is at Pole Canyon July 12th. I look forward to joining in and continuing to make this trail even more rider-friendly.
This is an annual ‘RIDE’ of passage leaving from Fitzgerald’s Bicycles each year on the Solstice Weekend. We’ll head clockwise around The Rock (The Grand Teton) on a 50/50 mix of gravel and pavement. 154 miles, 6000 feet of climbing and TOTALLY doable for the average fit rider. Whether you Ride for speed or ride for the accomplishment it doesn’t matter. The beers taste just as good after!
This year’s ride starts at 6am on Saturday June 21st from Fitzgerald’s Bicycles!
AtR Que Sheet:
> START – Head North next to Highway 33 from Fitzgerald’s Bicycles
> Turn Right on 6000 S heading East to the first left turn – Turn Left
> Head North to 5000 S – Turn Right
> 5000 N heading East to 2000 E – Turn Left
> 2000 E heading North to 3000 S – Turn Right
> 3000 S heading East to Stateline Rd – Turn Left
> Stateline Rd heading North to E 5000 N* – Turn Left
* See map below to make sure to turn before Leigh Creek which has no bridge and is running high:
> E 5000 N heading West to Hgwy 33 – Turn Right
> Hgwy 33 heading North to N 500 W – Head Straight North
> N 500 W heading North to W 10000 N – Turn Left
> W 10000 N heading West to Reece Rd – Turn Right
> Reece Rd heading North to the Rail Trail – parallel to Reece Rd
> Ashton/Tetonia Rail Trail heading North to 550 N* – Turn Right
* 550 N is the first road that crosses the Rail Trail after the big Trestle Bridge
> 550 N heading East to 5000 E* – Turn Left
* 5000 E is the first major left hand turn off of 550 N
> 5000 E heading North to the end – Turn Right onto Forest Rd 263 (Conant Fall River Rd)*
* You will be on Forest Rd 265 momentarily before it turns into 263, see map below:
> 263 heading North to Ashton Flagg Ranch Rd (Grassy Lake Rd) – Turn Right
> Ashton Flagg Ranch Rd heading East to Flagg Ranch / Hgwy 191 – Turn Right
> Hgwy 191 heading south to Teton Park Inner Road – Turn Right
> Teton Park Rd heading South to Moose – Turn Right
> Moose Wilson Rd heading South to Wilson / Hgwy 22 – Turn Right
> Hgwy 22 heading West to Victor – FINISH!
I’ve decided to not put out a GPS file. This ride is a great chance to practice your map skills!
This blog post is a catch up post from this past January. During the past two Winters, we’ve been spending some time living with family in Sarasota, FL. Although we still love Winter in the Tetons, we don’t need the full allotment of it anymore. On top of that, I’ve developed a passion for sailing that has me craving for a little more time on the Ocean in the hopes of one day setting sail for the “big one” – a long term family live-aboard cruising experience. With all that in mind, we decided to buy a fixer-upper sailboat that would serve as a winter basecamp and a platform to build up our sailing chops and biking legs.
One of the most important elements of a Healthy Lifestyle Based Economy is a low angle, multi-use trail network close to the downtown core of a community. In Victor, there is an incredible opportunity to develop a trail network like this in the Mike Harris area just to the East of downtown. Imagine a year round, recreational parking area that supports non-motorized and motorized trail access for residents and visitors alike. Combine this with a campground, close proximity to Jackson Hole, and a connection to Victor along the Old Jackson Highway and you have the makings of a true economic driver for the entire Teton Valley.
Currently, the City of Victor is putting the finishing touches on a request to the Teton Basin Ranger District of the USFS for the development of up to 15 miles of non-motorized trails, a year round parking facility, winter grooming for skiing, fat biking, and snowmobiling, and the completion of a multi-use connection from Mike Harris to the Big Hole mountains. This is an ambitious and incredibly forward thinking project that supports the goals of the City of Victor Comp Plan, the Teton County Comp Plan, the Southern Valley Trails Project, and Envision Victor. As a resident and business owner in Teton Valley I think it will have long lasting, positive economic impacts for everyone who has invested in Teton Valley.
This project will not happen over night and it’s important for us to all be aware of the process. First, the City of Victor submitted a project proposal to the Forest Service this past Winter. The Teton Basin Ranger District responded to the request with a letter asking for additional information to be provided before they can accept the request as a formal “Proposed Action” (PA). The Forest Service has learned, through litigation unfortunately, the more comprehensive the PA the better. Taking the time to address potential concerns that may arise in the next phase, “Public Scoping”, will significantly increase the quality of the effort which ultimately should be focused on protection of our natural resources as well as support for the local economy.
If the USFS accepts the PA, the project will be put out for Public Scoping. The Scoping process allows anyone, or any organization, to voice concerns with the project Again, the more work done to address potential concerns about the project, from the start, will reduce the chance of unforeseen efforts to derail the project.
If the project is moved forward after Scoping, the Teton Basin ranger District will need to analyze the project before the Forest Service begins their decision making under the guidance of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the Forest Management Act (FMA). With any luck, the project could move through Scoping in a few months and then through the NEPA process to approval in 7-8 months. Not over night, but pretty quick all things considered.
Of course the USFS is extremely under funded and the amount of study and subsequent paper work needed is significant. Therefore, a third party consultant needs to be hired to provide the USFS with assistance. The City of Victor is currently speaking with consultants who specialize in this work to find the right fit. Likely, the project will be broken into 2 phases. The first phase will bring the project through Scoping and the second phase will include the NEPA work. The City is exploring options to help cost share the consultant and hopefully Teton County, supporting non-profits, and the community in general will help with the rest.
In the near future, look for ways to engage and make your voice heard about this project. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly and I’ll do my best to shed any light I can. Here’s to the development of a Healthy Lifestyle based Economy!