I may just have died and gone to Fat-Bike Heaven. If you live in the North Central part of the U.S. you can visit Fat-Bike Heaven too…..DeKalb, Illinois…Downtown at North Central Cyclery. I made the trip down, to see for myself, what has been described to me as the premier Fat-bike shop in the upper-midwest/great lakes region. Soon after I entered I counted twenty Mukluks and Pugsleys on North Central’s showroom floor. One of the Muk 3s was completely decked out with a Revelate Designs Frame Bag and full back-country camping gear. This display was up front, and center, for all to regale.
The shop is a fat-bike celebration! They have Black Floyds, Big Fat Larrys and Nates in stock along with Lazer Helmets, Outdoor Research gloves and Bar-Mitts. I sat down with (shop owner) Tobie while Chad put the finishing touches on another Muk 3 that was slated to deliver that day. Tobie explained that his introduction to fat-bikes came years ago, by the way of an old school purple pugsley sent down to him from, (the unusually tall) Eric Sovern, with the advice for Tobie and his crew to “play around on it”. I’m a huge proponent of going out to play, so this put me on the path, of understanding the philosophy of how this shop in Dekalb became a Fat-Bike Mecca. During the early stages of their Fat-Bike experiences, one of cycling’s traveling wise men spent some time, as a mechanic, at the shop. We’ve all met that (older – wiser – harder) pro wrench that rides everywhere and where ever they roam, provide the spark that ignites epic rides that last until dawn. North Central’s fat-bike guru’s name is Ari and he’s still out there on his fatty riding B roads and writing about it on his blog. After reading posts from Ari’s blog I can see how he helped sculpt this fat-biking masterpiece of a shop.
When I begin to try to explain the intangible elements that separate a shop like North Central from other shops, I wish I would have been blessed with better writing skills…..but here goes. Tobie shared that even though he carries all of the inventory items (the stuff) that every new fat-biker would want…..the thing that drew him in and continues to guide him like a beacon, involves fat-bike culture and the people that live and create that culture. It’s the people you meet during the journey, not the destination….the rides, not the bike that remain the spark that makes North Central a shop that you need to visit.
Click on over to http://www.northcentralcyclery.com/ for the 411 on North Central Cyclery