Wanderlust Wednesday: Q & A With Arrowhead 135 Finishers Donald Wood and Brian Gillies – Full Interview

March 5th, 2014


Last week we had the opportunity to chat with Donald Wood (AKA “Woody”) and Brian Gillies, the only two cyclists from Michigan to finish this year’s Arrowhead 135 ultra-endurance race. They were kind enough to share their experience and offer some insights into the event with us and several other local folks who also came to hang out. In that spirit, we thought we’d keep on sharing and post the full interview on our blog for fatbikers everywhere to read. Give it a read below, even if you don’t have a fatbike; it’s casual, funny, and full of useful wisdom. Be advised that it is a bit on the lengthy side, but well worth it.


I’d also like to use this opportunity to introduce a new blog segment called Wanderlust Wednesday. Alliteration aside, the placement in the middle of the work week is deliberate, since that’s when I often find myself scheming about what I’d like to do over the weekend, as well as daydreaming about where I’d like to go someday. We’ll feature regular adventure-oriented tips on subjects like navigation, cooking, field repair, trip reports, and of course some gear reviews. We also love guest content, so if you have pictures of a dirty bike in a beautiful spot, a tale of a trip gone horribly wrong or wonderfully right, or a suggestion for something you’d like to see, send it our way to, and put BLOG in the subject. On a related note, we’ve also set aside some of the store for our new curated selection of bikepacking gear to help you eat and sleep outside comfortably, since nobody wants to have to ride home tired, sore, and hungry. We’re also working on expanding the outdoor section of the website for you mail-order folks.

Past the break is a complete transcript from last Wednesday’s party/talk/Q&A. I’ve tweaked a bit of syntax for ease of reading, but other than that I’ve left it totally intact in order to best convey Woody and Brian’s wisdom. Their opinions don’t necessarily reflect those of Tree Fort Bikes or the Arrowhead 135, although we do greatly value their experience, and we are of the opinion that they are a pair of hardcore, genuine, friendly dudes.

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Cycle-friendly Michigan – A work in progress

January 4th, 2014

When your local FedEx or Postal carrier arrives at your door with a sanguine smile, leaping on the last step in the dance of your order from Tree Fort Bikes, you may have noticed that your package shipped from a city called Ypsilanti, just off of Interstate 94 in the Motor City state’s densest corner, thronged within a thick suburban cluster huddling around Detroit.

Hearing it that way, you may have to wonder: That’s where you picked to open a bike shop?

Sure – while we’ve been long fortunate with local trail systems, much to local mountain riders’ delight, you might say that our daily road riding can be something of a challenge. We live inside of auto-centricity, and like most metro areas across the States, highways have long cut deep, criss-crossing gorges under, over, and between so many of our neighborhoods, where exit ramps lead to thoroughfares of too-often broken asphalt, putting up best efforts to service the traffic that uses it most. It’s a jungle; many of us know all too much about it; and we keep on riding, still.

But in recent years, and even in recent weeks, Michigan cyclists are surprised to see new challenges to auto-priority, as even the Motor City starts to concede: There’s more to getting around than the motor. Planners and powers seem to be awakening to changing economic realities – upward-inching fuel costs, chronic unemployment, more-limited personal spending – as well as the increasing pressures of interstate economic competition, where the battle to recruit and maintain workforce talent means investing in urban development, growing the kinds of walkable, neighborhood-focused, green-planted cities that so many young workers want to see around them. Plenty of us are looking for alternatives to life and leisure driven by car, and from tourism boards to government leadership to private entrepreneurs, Michigan’s not only noticing those changing interests, but taking some meaningful action to help them thrive.

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Reaching 20,000

December 26th, 2013

It seemed fitting that a milestone of 20,000 miles should be celebrated with an epic ride.

I bought my Giant back in 2005 when I was living in Colorado. I was riding a lot, and it was a huge upgrade to the bike I was riding at the time. I remember the first month I had it, I put one thousand miles on it. Since then, it’s done countless mountain ascents/descents, a little bit of racing, normal road miles and a fair amount of commuter miles. Each year, I even celebrate its birthday – the day I picked it up new from the shop. I don’t have a dog or kids, so something needs to be doted upon, right?

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Staff Picks: Winter Tires

December 14th, 2013

It’s finally Ypsi’s turn to get the snow dump. With a slow Saturday in the store, Juan and Jesse set out to find their new best friend.

Up for the test: Continental Tour Ride; Continental Top Contact; 45 Nrth Gravdal; 45 Nrth Xerxes.

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Staff Build: All-City Macho Man Disc

November 16th, 2013

Like most of the staff here, and I suspect many other riders, I tend to use bikes well outside of their advertised purpose. So when I started looking at options for a cyclocross build, what I really wanted was a bike capable of commuting, dirt roads, light touring, rail trails, and even a bit of singletrack. I don’t actually race cross at all, I just wanted a bike with wider tire clearance and a sturdy build, and cross bikes are gaining popularity as some of the most versatile rides available. Thankfully, many brands recognize this, and as the race-day bikes get stiffer and twitchier, many other models are keeping a more utility-oriented geometry that still knows how to get up and go. This is what I was after: a bike that’s zippy enough to make it to work on time, but also comfortable enough for an all-day excursion on unknown dirt roads.

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8 Reasons Why Cold Weather is Cool

November 12th, 2013

Summer is great. It’s so easy to just hop on a bike and go for a ride. Once the weather turns colder, however, a bit more preparation is needed. It can be daunting to gather up an arsenal of extra gear just to extend the riding season for a bit, so some of us cold-weather crazies put together a list of cold-weather goodies that we’ve tried, loved, and still use regularly. Aside from looking awesome in stretchy neoprene, there are several other advantages to four-season cycling. Let them be your reasons to keep riding.

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Happy Veteran’s Day

November 11th, 2013


Every-Other-Friday Night Lights

October 30th, 2013

We’re still riding!

Join us through the cool season.

We’ll meet every other Friday for a few miles of road riding and 6 – 12 miles of trail riding. Riders of all skill levels are invited, and extra lights can be provided, if needed.

Who’s invited?

Everyone. From new riders to the more experienced, we’re here to support each other to ride.

Where will we be riding?

Rolling Hills in Ypsilanti.

How will we get to the trail?

Meet at the shop at 6:30 for a ride to the trail.

What do I need?

Bring a bike, a helmet, water and a headlight/taillight.

I’m new to trail riding. What else should I know?

Take a visit to the Michigan Mountain Biking Association‘s home on the web, where you’ll find information about the trails, trail conditions, introductory basics, as well as all things as they relate to trail riding in this great state.

Still have questions? Just give us a ring at 734-484-9999 or shoot us a message. Be sure to find us on Facebook to catch updates on trail conditions, ride start times, and more.

See you there!


2013 Blowout: Online Now

October 23rd, 2013

Help us clear out those shelves!

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I’ll take the beast, please.

October 14th, 2013

Previous commuter:

Current commuter:

Ride quality: Shocking close.

Total savings: $900

Final thoughts: Yes.

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