Michigan is a cycling destination. From the open roads, the lung busting hills and winding trails all over the state, the Mitten is a paradise to cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts from bottom to tip.
Michigan also has a world class bike shop to service all those cyclists, too. Last year, Jason Lowetz of Traverse City opened the doors to Einstein Cycles, one of the coolest and friendliest shops around.
Einstein Cycles started out in Jason’s garage, but the momentum and interest of the Traverse City cycling community quickly convinced Jason that he needed some prime retail space to meet the demand. Before long, the shop moved from a very well-remodeled garage to one of the nicest shops in town. It was, of course, an awful lot of work. “The story of how the shop came to be in such a short period of time is a pretty good one; one hundred hour plus work weeks, which included pulling up the old carpet (sometimes 1 square inch at a time) and grinding off the old glue with pal John Leach, while listening to dance tunes on a 1980’s home stereo placed on castors at 1am in the morning.”
After a few weeks of remodeling, Lowetz had Einstein set up and running at full steam. And the hard work didn’t stop there. Einstein was such a hit that Jason was often spotted working on bike repairs until two or three in the morning, only to open up bright and early a few hours later at nine.
Jason Lowetz recruited Jason Whittaker to help run the shop, which lead to making Einstein distinct in having two outstanding bike enthusiasts, though confusing with the same first name. The phone is usually ringing off the hook and callers almost always ask which Jason they are talking to.
One of the big reasons Einstein garnered so much attention was the impressive assemblage of Einstein Racing, a road and mountain bike team consisting of some of the top talent in the state, including Jorden Wakeley, Johanna and Ty Schmidt, Ron Sanborn, and the entire staff of the shop. All of the shops employees, Jason Lowetz and pal/manager Jason Whittaker, along with John Leach, split time fixing bikes, helping customers, and training.
Einstein Cycles itself is a sleek, stylish shop with some of the best bike brands around, like the German brand Focus. The shop boasts a rather comfortable leather chair, plenty of cycling magazines and a big screen showing races and other cycling videos. Every trip, there seems to be some familiar face talking parts and training with the guys at the shop, and a lot of the cycling community gathers there to swap stories and tips.
For everyone at Einstein, Michigan is simply the place to be for cycling. For Jason in particular, the state was irresistible, even after some time away. “I am actually a 100% authentic and official Michigander as I was born and raised in the Owosso area and moved up to Saint Ignace when I was sixteen. I spent 10 years in L.A., but returned to rejoin my high school heart throb (and now wife) Kristie, who happened to be in Traverse City. The cycling community is very ambitious here in TC. We have some of the best trails and the most scenic road and mountain bike riding in the country. These are just two of many reasons that make Traverse City a great place for bikes,” Jason elaborated.
Einstein Cycles also teams with the Grand Traverse Pie Company to bring Traverse City the Wedneday Pie Ride all summer. After a short ride for families along the TART trail, the Pie ride returns to GT Pie Co, for a slice of pie. The weekly ride is a hit from kids on training wheels to seasoned pros eager to take a recover day and carbo load.
The Mitten has great trails, a great cycling community and a lot of races. But why the name Einstein? Jason says the he came up with it just like the famous Albert Einstein quote: “I thought of that while riding my bicycle.”
Einstein has a lot of big plans for 2012, including the St. Fatty’s Day Fat Bike Race in Gaylord, MI at the Otsego Club on March 31st, and will continue to host the Grand Traverse Pie Company ride every Wednesday evening at six this summer. The guys at Einstein ride year ride, and are always happy to have new riders along. The Mitten finally has the awesome bike shop it deserves! ~Cody Sovis