Mike McGraw’s GT Karakoram

GT front view85,000 miles. That’s a long way on one bike. But then, Mike doesn’t miss many days to ride, so he just keeps ticking them off. I used to see him quite often, long before we ever met. He’d be riding up Newport Road and I’d be riding down, or vice-versa. He wore a purple bike cap that distinguished him on the road. Plus, he had that GT mountain bike. Same bike every time.

Newport Road is one of the main conduits to the dirt roads from downtown Ann Arbor. It gets you out there quickly, onto Maple, Stein, Tubbs, Joy, Jennings, Northfield Church…

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Rob Interview on the Bike Shop Show

Bike Shop ShowI had a great talk–aired Monday, April 2nd–with Scott Dedenbach on his Bike Shop Show podcast. I explained why the world is a far better place with Dirt Road Washtenaw in your messenger bag. There are also juicy, never before revealed facts about the back road world. Don’t miss it. (If I didn’t mention any of those things, I meant to.) And, we talk about riding in Detroit. That’s always fascinating.

Mark Braun’s Nobilette


The Two Marks
Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to make friends with a skilled craftsman. Take two craftsmen with unique skills and it’s like setting off on an adventure that unfolds in amazing ways.  Mark Braun met Mark Nobilette back in the early days of the revered and somewhat mythical Cycle Cellar’s existence. (With two Marks this is going to get complicated so from here on, Mark Braun will go by what his friends call him, B. Mark Nobilette is now simply Nobilette.)

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maple road deerThere are a lot of deer in this area. I’ve seen up to 50 at one time milling about in a farm field. (There were probably more. I didn’t count them. I just look at the mass and say, okay, 50. Ish.)

Fields aren’t their only domain. They inhabit our space as well. Our space. Like roads. (We like to think of roads as “ours,” fields and forests as “theirs.”) As I pedal toward those deer standing in the middle of the road, they pause, stare at me, then flee as if they’ve done something wrong and I’m Dickens’s headmaster, Wackford Squeers, come to punish them. They often pause longer than I’d think wise, assessing me. I imagine, from their perspective, I’m an odd, garish animal. (“What kind of creature would wear those color combinations…together!?”) They dart off before I draw too near, rolling those massive, limpid 8 ball eyes.

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Grace Pang’s Specialized Stumpjumper

frontangleGrace Pang’s modified 2003 Stumpjumper fits into the tradition of the Stumpy perhaps more than a stock bike off the showroom floor. After all, the Stumpy was introduced to the bike world in 1981 as a steel off-road bike with part designs influenced by motorcycles (handlebars), and some components that were made for road and touring bikes (15-speed gears and canti-brakes). The front fork was rigid.

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Ed Brewer’s Carbon/Steel Quiring Cyclocross Bike

front angle

The Gift
It was a present. To himself. Ed had just finished a demanding graduate program. After all that time staring at books and computer screens it was time to splurge on something that would take him away from all that, where he could stare at trees and gritty roads.  It wasn’t going to be just an out of the box present, either.  After all that work, this gift needed to be special.  He’d mulled over some options, including a Lynskey titanium cyclocross bike, but what he really wanted was a bike built right here in Michigan, something unique, yet within his budget. Titanium was pricey.  He liked the idea of carbon, but he also liked steel. Hmmm…

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Bob Martel’s Stumpjumper Comp 29er















Bob’s got the bug. He’s got it bad. Bob’s retired, so he has time to devote to things he’s passionate about. One of those things has become bicycling. A couple of years ago in late fall his wife, Lisa, decided to take a spinning class. She invited Bob along. He loved it. She’s now probably wondering what she unleashed. He spun happily through the winter and once spring came around he needed to keep spinning, but he wanted to move the experience outdoors, so he bought a bike. That bike, the Specialized Stumpjumper Comp 29er, is the subject of this edition of Bike Grits.

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Tom Pilutti’s Gunnar Crosshairs


It’s steel, it’s relatively light, and it’s just what he envisioned. Tom Pilutti decided on the Gunnar Crosshairs frame on which to build his dirt road wanderer after months of careful deliberation. I know, because I’d often get emails from him asking about what his frame options were, or asking what was the best gruppo. He wanted to build it up himself and once he’d zeroed in on the frame he had some questions about frame size, paint, and the right fork to match the geometry. For this he went with someone with all kinds of bike building experience. He called Gunnar Cycles and got Richard Schwinn, owner of Gunnar, on the phone. Richard himself helped Tom with his concerns. That’s service!

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