Garages typically are used to store a person’s favorite mode of transportation, which explains why Jeff Nelson has converted his garage into a bicycle shop.
Though the 50-year-old West Des Moines bicycle enthusiast drives his car to his job at Rasmussen Bike Shop where he works as a bicycle mechanic, he prefers to travel mostly by two wheels rather than four. Each week, Nelson estimates, he logs in more than 100 miles on his bicycle, riding 20 miles each morning before he goes to work and on weekends on trails. His favorite weekend route is a 72-mile loop along the Great Western Trail that extends to Waukee and Herndon and back. He rides it at least once per week until the outdoor temperatures fall into the mid-30-degree mark.
“I ride about 3,000 to 4,000 each season on both bicycles depending on the weather,” says Nelson. “A couple of years ago, when the temperatures stayed warm, I was still riding three to four days per week in December, January and February and I rode more than 4,000 miles.”
Each year, Nelson buys two new road bicycles. One of them he customizes, stripping it down to a single speed. He calls that one his “dirty bike,” the kind he can ride in rain, mud and snow if needed, yet can still spin out at 20 miles per hour. The other is a high-end, 20-speed racing bicycle that he rides on trails and streets. This year, he is riding a Specialized S-Works SL4 with Fulcrum 0 Race Wheels, like those professional bicyclists use on popular races including the Tour de France.
“Because I work at a bike shop, I can get them for less than wholesale, which allows me to buy a new one every year,” he says.
Nelson says he has been riding bicycles since 1993; he credits his older brother, who is also an avid bicyclist, for influencing him to do so.
“Really, my whole family used to ride bicycles,” he says.
Nelson says he enjoys the peace and tranquility of starting each day on his bicycle.
“It just clears your mind,” he says. “You get outdoors and you don’t think about anything else other than what you’re doing on the bicycle.”
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