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Community Highlight is a series of interviews that searches out people in our community that work to make this area a better place to live.  Each month we interview a different individual and what they do to support our community.  Do you have a suggestion of someone who would make a good candidate for our next article?  You can either send us a message on our Facebook page or you can email us at:  Thanks!

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Heather Hucka - February 2024

Written by: Abraham Wolf

We found ourselves with a fresh brewed coffee in hand while at that familiar cozy setting of Jitter’s Coffee Bar for our next conversation.  At the time of this interview, winter was really starting to feel like a true Iowa winter with plenty of snow on the ground and bitter cold winds.  People were gearing up for winter activities and places like Lime Creek were preparing for a Fat Bike Race.  Winter was finally here.  We originally chose to focus this month’s conversation on the “2nd Annual Lime Creek Fat Bike Race” and interview an individual who was going to reprise her role as a key figure in this years race.  As January progressed, warmer weather came with it and what snow we did have started to disappear.  By the end of the month, Mother Nature had other plans in mind and the race was ultimately cancelled due to deteriorating trail conditions.  The silver lining is that we got to have a conversation with someone we normally wouldn’t consider for a bicycle related article and ended up learning so much about their impact on people of all outdoor interests - including those who choose to play bikes in the woods.

This month we sat down with Heather Hucka, who has been the Conservation Education Manager at Lime Creek for the past two years.  She spent the previous 15 years in the Ames area in a similar role for Story County.  Part of her role here is finding ways to get the community engaged with Lime Creek and present as many opportunities as possible for people to experience nature. Last year she was approached about Lime Creek hosting a Fat Bike Race by her good friend Brooke Bailey.  Heather readily admitted that she didn’t know much about fat tire biking, let alone that people would even want to race such bikes.  Heather remembered that it was a spur of the moment situation and was skeptical if people would travel to do this kind of thing.  She found out that people traveled from out to state, others purchased bikes specifically to race and it even drew a crowd of spectators.  To say she was utterly shocked at the turnout was an understatement.  While the event this year did get cancelled, it gave us such a great opportunity to learn more about Heather and how much she does for Lime Creek.  

We easily started talking about how being in nature has such a wonderful effect on a person.  Heather's love of nature is infectious and within a few minutes of talking to her it was obvious that she has a deep love with being outside.  Before we got too far into the conversation we had to backtrack and learn more about Heather.  The question quickly turned towards growing up and what influences she had that drove her towards being outside.  Growing up her parents would have her spend every Summer at her Grandparents acreage near Nora Springs.  It was here where Heather discovered her love of all thing’s nature.  She recalled so many fond memories of climbing trees, hikes, canoeing – “nature was my playground growing up.”  Her grandparents really fostered and enabled her to be outside on that natural playground as much as possible.  That passion for nature took her to Ames where she graduated from Iowa State University with a major in Animal Ecology.  It was here that she met her husband Ben who has an equally passionate love for nature.  Fast forward to 2024 and she is now the 3rd generation to live at what was originally her Grandparent's acreage with Ben and their two daughters.          

Normally around this part of the conversation we would begin a deep dive into why our “Community Highlight” loves riding bikes, which type of riding they prefer, favorite biking memories and all the reasons why.  Key part of that last sentence was the word “normally.”  Normally we would, although Heather has many outdoor recreation interests that don’t involve biking.  We started to explore what outdoor activities she loves to do the most, which quickly proved to be a more complex answer than expected.  There were so many elements from so many different activities that all scratched a different itch for her.  While she quickly listed off seasonally different outdoor activities, one stuck out far more than all the others.  Her absolute favorite outdoor activity is with her husband Ben when they go on a portaging adventure together every year.  Portaging is where you backpack through the wilderness and carry everything with you – that means your canoe, tent, supplies…everything.  Heather and Ben’s idea of a portaging adventure happens to be an extreme version.  They will spend seven days portaging through the Boundary Waters near the Canada border.  Heather added with a laugh that it is “the true wilderness with a capitol W.”  

We turned our focus to Lime Creek frequently throughout our interview.  We explored what trends she has noticed as far as interest in being outdoors and people going to places like Lime Creek.  “It’s not a secret that when the pandemic happened that it altered people’s relationship with nature.”  There was that massive surge and unseen spike in interest to go out into nature.  What’s most interesting is that while the surge in interest has leveled out, there remains a high number of people that are seeking outdoor recreational activities.  This has included biking, hiking and horseback riding just to name a few when it comes to Lime Creek.  Heather noted that one of the changes is that people are no longer looking for big events that draw thousands of people to one singular outdoor location.  They are seeking those small group or solo activities where you really get that chance to be intimate with nature while being able to disconnect.  Heather and Lime Creek have taken notice of that and are trying to offer opportunities for visitors to really connect with nature through varies programs.  Something wonderful about Lime Creek is that there is no fee to use the trails.  Lime Creek is a destination that offers so many different options to be part of nature throughout the year.  During the summer they host programs for people of all ages.  During spring, summer and fall you will see horseback riders, bikers and hikers all co-existing on the trails.  During the winter months you will find people exploring on snowshoes, cross country skis and even snow biking.  Something Heather has noticed in her two years here is that people frequently travel to come to Lime Creek.  It's not uncommon for her to spot cars in the parking lot that are from out of state.  Part of the way they are able to offer so many different experiences is through donations.  All of Lime Creek’s programs are funded through memberships and donations. If you are interested in becoming a member of Lime Creek, you can click the button below to learn more!

 Membership Information 

As we have interviewed more people, we really discovered that we all have different backgrounds, different interests and different ways that we contribute to our community.  All of our interviews seem to have a very similar goal despite all those differences.  The common denominator seems to be providing opportunities for everyone to get outside while contributing what you can.  You don’t have to be a biker to do things that benefit bikers – Heather is the personification of such a person.  We appreciate everything that Heather and Lime Creek does to get people outside and off the couch!  

Robert Polking - January 2024

Written by: Abraham Wolf

Our interviews over the past year have primarily focused on those heavily involved in the cycling community only.  As each month has passed, we have found that there are so many great stories to tell that don't focus solely on riding bikes.  This month's 'Community Highlight' certainly enjoys riding bikes and uses gravel riding in the summer for "off season" training, although he is more highly involved in the cross country ski community.  Robert Polking and I met at Jitters Coffee Bar in Mason City on a unseasonably warm December afternoon.  The familiar smell of fresh brewed coffee and friendly atmosphere made it the perfect meeting spot to learn more about Robert and what it is about cross country skiing that has made it his passion for over 40 years.    

As we settled in with Robert enjoying his tea and me with a coffee - we took time to learn a bit about who he is and how he came to live in Mason City.  If you've lived in Mason City at all over the past 40 years there is a good chance you know of Robert and Mary Beth Polking.  They owned and operated "Polking and Polking DDS" from 1979 until about five years ago when they retired and sold the business.  Robert hails from Breda, Iowa - a little town of 500 people about an hour and a half west of Ames.  As a Freshman at Iowa Dental School, he met another aspiring dentist named Mary Beth.  By 1978 they were married and soon after began looking towards the future.  While he and Mary Beth were trying to figure out where to move after college, they felt that choosing a location an equal distance from both of their families to be highly important.  Mason City soon became an ideal location, especially after they visited the other dentist offices around town.  They quickly found that everyone they spoke with was kind, welcoming and they were all people who would help each other out.  With a chuckle, Robert remembered when they finally decided on Mason City that they had just seven dollars in their pocket.  They ended up spending it that night on pizza and then got a loan the next day to start their own business.  

It became clear early in our interview that Robert is incredibly passionate about cross country skiing.  Our talk quickly turned into learning "why."  What is it about cross country skiing that has such a strong hold on him?  Robert said that a major piece of the puzzle is that he has always loved being in nature and enjoying it's beauty.  "Cross Country Skiing itself is such a graceful, quiet sport where you can float through snow covered trees."  He finds that the different venues and being able to enjoy the sport with friends or by yourself makes it incredibly attractive.  While the calm and serenity of the sport has its appeal - it's the racing aspect that he really seems to love.  Skate Skiing is a version of Cross Country Skiing that is incredibly fast, where the downhill descents have you practically flying by trees and has your heart rate peaked for long durations.  He finds that the speed and thrill of going fast to be something he absolutely loves - there is nothing quite like coasting with the wind hitting your face as you dodge nature.     

Soon we started to discuss how he got hooked on the sport.  I really wanted to know what was that turning point for him.  Being introduced to the sport by his best friend in college was the start.  He remembers skiing the snow covered parks of Iowa City fondly.  He remembers staying at Telemark in Wisconsin.  It was the winter of 1982 that he started to ski seriously and where the sport really took its hold.  Telemark played home to the start of the Annual American Birkebeiner (also known as "The Birke"), which is the premier cross country ski race in North America for the past 50 years.  It is a 51km (32 mile) race that covers some of the hilliest and hardest trails in North America.  The race features climbs with elevation gains of 4587 feet - which is nearly a mile of climbing.  International teams from all over the world come to this singular event that often sees ten thousand participants annually.  Robert said the atmosphere there is like nothing else he has ever experienced.  I wanted to explore which memory was his favorite and why.  He said he has so many great memories from over 40 years of cross country skiing that it's difficult to pick just one.  After a sip of his tea and careful thought, he said there is one that is the most special for him.  Finishing his first American Birkenbeiner race in 1999 edged out all of those other memories.  He completed it in four and a half hours, and with 20,000 people cheering and clanging cowbells - he said he will never forget that memory or the feelings.  It was clear to me that the sense of accomplishment, combined with the crowd created such a powerful emotional moment in time for Robert. 

The more we talked and learning more of the benefits, I had to know where you could cross country ski in this area.  He first mentioned that Lime Creek is among the best options for classic cross country skiing that is in Mason City.  The county will groom designated cross country ski trails during the winter.  Among Robert's favorite local spots is Pilot Knob Road and Pilot Knob Lake.  He said that Jeff Hovinga regularly grooms those trails and is easily one of his favorite spots for really enjoying natures beauty.  He also noted that you can cross country ski on frozen lakes, though you need to make sure the ice is thick enough before adventuring.  Robert noted a local organization with playing a huge part in trail preparation in the area.  North Iowa Nordic is an organization that has been around the last 20 years and its members have been responsible for grooming trails in the area since its inception.  Robert credited Todd Juhlin as being the founding father of the organization with Joel Yunek and Jay Friday as being key members who've kept the organization going.  It became apparent that to prepare trails for skiing that it takes a team and quite a few pieces of equipment to make it happen.  Robert was emphatic that it is a true community effort to make it happen and that so many different people have contributed over the years.  Robert seemed to be pretty excited about a new partnership with the YMCA and North Iowa Nordic.  For the first time, North Iowa Nordic is going to groom a loop for the YMCA with the hope to introduce more people to the sport.  We agreed that knowing when and where to ski could be a potential hurdle - although Robert already had the solution before I even asked.  He said that North Iowa Nordic has a Facebook Page that regularly updates when trails are groomed.  They post trail conditions and where to ski with regularity.  You can easily find their page by clicking the button below.   

North Iowa Nordic Facebook Page

As our interview started to wind down, I had to ask him why he chooses Wayne's as his shop.  Robert remembers to this day that it all started with buying his first set of downhill skis from Wayne Blaisdell when the shop was still located downtown.  Since then this has always been his go to shop.  Robert has been able to travel and visit bike shops all over the country.  When it comes to the level of service and being able to find products that fit his needs - he said that there is no place like Wayne's.  Robert said that it's the people that keep him coming back to Wayne's more than anything.

Being able to meet with Robert and learn more about him was such a wonderful experience.  Throughout our meeting we did get a chance to talk bikes a few times although we had far too much fun talking cross country skiing.  We appreciate Robert taking time out of his day to meet with us and wish him the best of luck on this years Birkenbeiner race!   

Sharon Steckman - December 2023

Written by: Abraham Wolf

When we contacted Sharon about being our next 'Community Highlight' she wasn't even sure she was qualified to be our next interview.  Sure she completed RAGBRAI quite a few times but she wouldn't consider herself an avid biker by any means.  The more we learned about Sharon the more qualified she became.  Her community volunteer work, her focus as a State Representative and her work with iJAG (Iowa Jobs for America's Graduates) is the epitome of what it means to be featured on 'Community Highlight.'

Our interview with Sharon took us to Jitter's Coffee Bar in Mason City.  To say Sharon was excited for this interview was an understatement.  She arrived with a bag full of pictures, articles and patches - all from past RAGBRAI's.  It was clear that searching through the memorabilia rekindled many fond memories for Sharon.  She shared that in the late 70's and early 80's she participated in the full week of RAGBRAI, many of them over 500 miles biked in a single week.  She had many great memories going with her family and Chuck Murray and his family on many of these adventures.  Of the memories she shared, one stood out more than the others.  She remembers the bike saddle not being overly comfortable on one of her first RAGBRAI's, to help fix that problem the overnight host strapped a section of shag carpet to the saddle for comfort.  While Sharon was able to laugh at it now, she vividly remembered the carpet burns that followed that fateful decision.  In case you were wondering, she does not recommend using this approach to be comfortable on a bike.         

We easily got off track talking about bikes early on but were able to come back and get some background on Sharon.  While she was born in Chicago, she moved all over the country as she grew up - she couldn't really call anywhere her hometown.  Sharon moved to Mason City in 1976 and she considers this to be her hometown.  Sharon primarily focused on Elementary Education and Title 1 Reading during her 30 years of teaching.  While talking about her years as a teacher, she mentioned that she could always notice when the kids had chances to play outside and get fresh air.  Sharon was able to recall a study that was done that shows that when children get physical exercise - they are able to think better and are ready to learn new information.  We both agreed that this easily extends into adulthood and how beneficial exercise can be for people.  There is nothing quite like a bike ride where you can get lost in your thoughts while getting fresh air and a little bit of exercise.  Sharon was excited about the recent developments of the Mason City Community School District using grants to bring bikes into the schools.  You can learn more about that story by clicking the link below.

  Facebook Post

Sharon is likely best known in this area as the State Representative for District 59 in the Iowa House of Representatives.  She was first elected in 2008 and has served the past 15 years now.  While she originally sought the position to better represent public education, her focus has shifted to also include the environment and outdoor activities.  As a child, she spent time growing up in Colorado - while there she spent time hiking and camping with her family.  She feels that this is where she really learned to appreciate nature and see the value being outside can do for you.  This focus on the environment and outdoor activities came to a head with the Willow Creek Cleanup Project this past year.  When it came to organizing the event, Sharon admitted that she was influenced by others in the community.  She had attended 'Tourism on Tap' in May of this year.  It was here that she saw just how much others in the community had volunteered and the impact they were able to create by gathering like minded individuals.  When her kids were growing up they often played along the Willow Creek area, although over the years it had become overgrown and in need of care.  With the help of others in the community, she organized an event that would draw upon those in the community to help clear brush, remove trash, cover graffiti and even create new art for the trail.  This event ended up being a huge success as volunteers were able to clear large sections and make the trail much more inviting to walkers and bikers.  Sharon estimated that it drew approximately 30 to 40 volunteers.  You can check out the impact created by going to the 'Friends of Willow Creek' Facebook page below.

Facebook Page

We got a chance to discuss what else Sharon does for the community.  She is quite proud of her work with iJAG (Iowa Jobs for America's Graduates).  Mainly iJAG partners with Iowa schools to deliver career development programming that includes leadership training, career education, individualized guidance and employer services.  This program helps kids that are potentially falling through the cracks and gets them the help they need to succeed.  Sharon is on the State Board for iJAG and helped bring the program to Mason City.  Initially this program started with 30 kids in Mason City.  It has since grown to annually helping over 100 local kids.  Since 1999, iJAG has helped more than 35,000 kids in the state.  The iJAG kids have been responsible for helping plant trees around Mason City as part of their volunteer work within the community.  Sharon sees potential for the iJAG kids to plant trees along the new Highline Trail if the opportunity were to present itself.  We highly recommend walking or biking the Highline Trail.  It is such a scenic trail through Mason City with many locations to enter and exit the trail.      

Lastly we got around to talking about why Sharon chooses Wayne's as her bike shop.  She felt that there are a number reasons that stand out.  She appreciates our commitment to the community and how much we do things that benefit the community as a whole.  Sharon noted that she loves how we have been a key partner in bringing bikes to the schools.  She also mentioned that Wayne's is where she has purchased her bike, gloves, shoes and helmet. It's where she always takes her bike for a tune up and check over.

It was absolutely wonderful to be able to interview Sharon and learn about all she has done and continues to do for the community.  She has had such a positive influence on this area since she arrived between her work as an educator and a State Legislator.  We thank her for her time and commitment to making Mason City a better place to live!

Steve Bailey - November 2023

Written by: Abraham Wolf

We are already up to our 10th 'Community Highlight' article this year.  This has been such a fun journey to learn about those who are involved in the community.  We've learned about people like Mark Dix who was featured in March.  Mark participated in his 24th RAGBRAI this past summer.  There also was Brooke Bailey who we featured in April.  She has  volunteered a considerable amount of her time and has been heavily involved in a multitude of area organizations.  This month we got a chance to sit down with the other half of the Bailey dynamic duo - Steve.  Steve was born and raised in Mason City, where he graduated high school in 1999.  While he was in High School he held down a part time job at Kum and Go - it was while working there that a certain co-worker caught his eye.  It was here that he met his wife Brooke. Steve and Brooke have now been married for 20 years and have two children.  If you've ever driven around Mason City in the last decade it is likely you have seen his face on 'For Sale' signs posted in yards.  Steve has been a Real Estate Agent for the past 17 years, a majority of those years with Century 21. 

When you talk to Steve it seems like he has been into bicycling ever since he was a kid based on his biking knowledge, fitness and technical ability on the trail.  Though that isn't the case.  Steve first got into biking over 15 years ago when a co-worker suggested that riding bikes would be great for his health.  This person encouraged Steve to join some group rides just to see what riding could do for him.  The co-worker was heavily involved in the biking community and was considered an avid rider.  To this day that person still is very involved and rides bikes quite a bit.  Who was that co-worker you may ask?  Mark Dix.  Through Mark's encouragement, Steve gave riding a try.  It started with road riding and doing group bike rides with others in the area.  As his physical fitness improved, his competitive nature really took hold and he found that he really enjoyed going fast on a bike.  That winter he really started to focus on training and improving his health with the aim to compete.  The next year he participated in his first triathlon.  While he did race in a number of triathlons over the next 5 years, it was the cycling aspect that really caught hold for him.  Steve admitted that this was the point that he knew he fell in love with cycling.    

Of the varies topics we discussed, we wanted to explore his favorite biking memories.  One immediately came to mind for Steve.  There was a ride called "Day Across Minnesota", where you start in eastern South Dakota and ride 240 miles across Minnesota into western Wisconsin.  All of which needs to be completed within 24 hours.  Needless to say, it was an absolutely brutal ride that pushes you both physically and mentally.  Getting even halfway is an accomplishment and at mile 160 Steve said he was completely drained and ready to quit.  It was at that point his friend Matt Curtis showed up with a cheeseburger and fries.  We both started laughing and I figured Steve was joking - he was dead serious and said that the burger and fries is what helped keep him going.  He ended up completing those 240 miles in 18 hours.  Steve said that while he was excited to be done it took him a full 12 hours to realize what he had done. He said that if he could do this, that he could accomplish anything.  When we got to talking about his favorite types of riding he said that far and away mountain biking is his favorite.  What he likes about it, is that it's the most fast paced and adrenaline inducing.  His second favorite is cyclocross for its competitive nature.  Anyone who has ever rode a bike with Steve knows that if someone wants to race or go fast - he is always up for the challenge and often ends up pushing himself to the absolute limit just to win.

Many people may know Steve as being a part of North Iowa Human Powered Trails. This is an organization that Steve helped co-found in 2019. Since it's inception this group has been responsible for the building and maintaining of the single-track mountain bike trails in Mason City.  Steve and NIHPT were key in getting Mason City and Cerro Gordo County the $4.5 million dollar Destination Iowa Grant last year. The grant is part of a total project investment of $11.9 million dollars that will be used for outdoor recreation projects like mountain bike trail infrastructure and most recently the High Line Trail.  Of the varies organizations Steve has been a part of, there is one that stands out to him.  He really felt that he is most proud of his involvement in co-founding Spin Devo more than anything else.  Steve said that this program was the launching point for so many future projects in the area. He feels that our trail system, community organizations and pro biking attitude wouldn't be where it is today without this original program.  Spin Devo was a regionally competitive cycling team and at it's peak had a total of 60 kids from 4 states under its umbrella.  

As we began to wind down our interview, we discussed why he chooses Wayne's as his go to bike shop.  Steve was adamant that it is the whole group of people that work at Wayne's - every single one of them.  He said what he likes is that the people really care about the customers and helping find what they need.  Steve also noted that they are fun to be around and are all passionate about riding bikes.

It was incredibly fun to be able to interview Steve (and Brooke earlier this year).  Although it ended up feeling bittersweet by the end of the interview.  Steve and Brooke have decided that they will be moving to Kentucky in the next few months to be closer to their daughter as she finishes High School.  She recently transferred High Schools to better position herself for college where she aims to focus on air and space.  Both Steve and Brooke have been such important parts of this community in so many ways.  Their impact will be felt for years to come and we cannot begin to thank them enough for all they have done.  While we are all sad to see them go, we wish them nothing but the best and we will cherish the memories they have created with all of us over the years.    

Carrie Berg - October 2023

Written by: Abraham Wolf

For our ninth installment of 'Community Highlight', we had a chance to interview Carrie Berg of Mason City.  Carrie is the Race Director for the 'Lime Creek Timber Trot.' This is a 5 mile trail race that is held rain or shine on October 7th at Lime Creek.  The best part is that 100% of all entry fees go towards Lime Creek Nature Center - with a sponsor matching the entry fees and donating directly to Lime Creek.  Participants will receive: a long sleeve shirt, a $20 Gift Card to Wayne's Ski and Cycle, and a pair of Fox River Socks.  This is a wonderful opportunity to have a great time while also giving back to your community - all while taking home some fantastic SWAG!  If you are interested in participating in the race you can check out the link below:

Timber Trot Information

Over the course of our interview, we learned quite a bit about Carrie and her family.  She grew up and graduated high school from Winona, Minnesota.  Carrie continued her post high school education all in Minnesota - completing her undergrad from St. Olaf College and her graduate degree from the University of Minnesota in Physical Therapy.  Carrie's career eventually took her to Aberdeen, South Dakota.  While there she met her husband Bob, who at the time was also a Physical Therapist.  Carrie and Bob have now been married almost 30 years.  Carrie spent 13 years as a Physical Therapist before she "retired" to become a stay-at-home mom.  She chose that path when Bob finished Med School and his Residency to become a Radiologist.  Over the years she was incredibly active as a Booster Mom and Band Mom (just to name a few - she was highly involved in her children's school activities).  Carrie and Bob now have two kids that are out of college, one that is in her fourth year of Med School and one that is attending Iowa State University.  While they did move around quite a bit in the early years, they found a more permanent home when they moved to Mason City in 2007.

We got around to discussing Carrie's community involvement.  We first focused on the 'Timber Trot' and what makes it special for our community.  Carrie really got excited talking about how beneficial the 'Timber Trot' is to Lime Creek and all of the programs the proceeds support.  She said that 100% of the entry fees for the 'Timber Trot' go towards things like buying kayaks, camping supplies, all sorts of equipment for events and programs focused on educating those of all ages.  Carrie also said that there is a sponsor that will match the Wayne's $20 gift card with a like donation.  Normally the Timber Trot attracts 50 to 60 racers - although this year there are already over 90 runners confirmed (and there is still time to register!)  The Timber Trot was started in 2007, with Carrie taking over as Race Director a few years after its inception.  Carrie has been very active in her community involvement - she was also the Race Director for the 'Stu Nevermann Run.'  This is an event that is held during Band Fest every year - she was the Race Director for 13 years.  When Carrie isn't busy being Race Director for various events, she is also on the Board of Directors for the YMCA, The Mason City Public Library and for Lime Creek.  We explored past events and organizations as well.  Bicycle, Blues and BBQ was an event held in Clear Lake from 2004 to 2019.  Carrie was in charge of the Touring Ride for the event for approximately 6 years during its run.  She has also been a part of the North Iowa Touring Club since 2009. She led indoor Spin classes for many years. Needless to say, it was incredibly enlightening to see just how active Carrie is in our community.  

We explored how she got into riding bikes and what she loves about it.  Carrie vividly remembers that in 1999 she wanted to participate in a Triathlon in Duluth.  Being that she didn't have a bike, this meant she needed a bike...and any bike would do.  She laughed when she started talking about the bike she found.  It was an old "junk" bike for $25 - it was one of those that was slow, heavy and very clunky.  Not only did she complete that Triathlon - but she did it on that bike - all while being 10 weeks pregnant.  Eventually she would go on to participate in many triathlon events over the years and completed Ironman Wisconsin in 2011 and 2013.  We got around to what experiences were her favorites involving riding bikes.  Carrie had so many fond memories involving riding with friends and family that it was hard for her to pick a favorite.  She said that among her favorites riding RAGBRAI with her husband and kids on the North Iowa Touring Club bus with the Neal's.  Billy and Becky Neal would drive a support vehicle during the week of RAGBRAI for area riders.  She participated in a total of 7 RAGBRAI's, including 2 years where her entire family completed the whole week - those seemed incredibly special to Carrie.  A close second to those RAGBRAI memories were the Saturday Morning Road rides.  A group of folks would meet up at the five way stop and ride anywhere from 25 to 70 miles each Saturday during the Summer.  She loved that sense of adventure, while being able to chat and bike with friends.  Carrie had to have knee surgery a year and a half ago, which sadly put a sudden halt to doing something she loves.  As she has continued to recover, she has started exploring the idea of an E-Bike that would help her get out with her family and friends again.  She is yet to find the right bike though she has been working with Matt (Owner of Wayne's) in finding the right one for her.    

I did ask Carrie about why she chooses Wayne's Ski and Cycle as her bike shop.  She said that there were many factors why and certainly not just one reason.  Carrie said that Matt is always quick to support and do what he can for community events.  She feels that the shop in general is geared towards community outreach and doing what we can to promote the biking community.  Even when it comes to non-biking events like the 'Timber Trot', she feels like Wayne's supports those important community events.  Carrie also likes that when she comes to the shop she is greeted by name and that we help her find the gear she needs (and if we don't have it, we will order it).  She said that her family has bought all their bikes from Wayne's over the years and has loved the quality and care of them.    

It was wonderful being able to chat with Carrie about the Timber Trot, favorite biking (and non-biking) memories, learning more about her and what she all does for the community!

Dave Delperdang - September 2023

Written by: Abraham Wolf

For our next 'Community Highlight' we got a chance to sit down and interview Dave Delperdang of Mason City.  He is currently semi-retired as a Service Technician at Wayne's.  Dave is a well known figure in the local biking community and has been an active part since the 1980's.  He is a Co-Founder and Race Committee Member of the 'Cannonball Cross' Race.  This race was last held in 2020 where it attracted 250 registered racers across 8 states - this made it the largest cyclocross race in Iowa at the time.  This year 'Cannonball Cross' will be held on September 2nd and 3rd.  If you would like to learn more about 'Cannonball Cross' - you can check out the link below.  

 Cannonball Cross Information

Dave grew up and graduated from Bancroft, Iowa.  He met his wife Judy when she started working at a restaurant that he used to frequent as a patron.  He remembers that their first conversations started with small talk about cross country skis.  Dave admitted with a chuckle that while he liked the outdoors, he would not have considered himself an athlete at that time nor did he know much about skiing.  Dave and Judy married in 1987, their son Geoff was born in 1990.  His family settled in Clear Lake were they became long time residents for the next 30 years.  This past spring Dave and Judy sold their house and moved back to Mason City.  Over the course of his life Dave has had a few different occupations.  Dave spent 13 years working at Lakeside Cyclery where he did a little bit of everything - like sales, bike assembly and bike repair.  While working at Zion Lutheran Church he spent most of his 14 years there as the Communications Director.  Most recently he worked full time at Wayne's Ski and Cycle for approximately 6 years - splitting time between sales and bike repair.  A little over 4 and a half years ago Dave retired.  While Dave may have officially retired from Wayne's, he maintains a semi-retired status at the shop.  He comes in throughout the week and solely focuses on bicycle repair.  Dave is exceptionally knowledgeable about repairing bikes and is often consulted on some of our more challenging repairs. 

We got to talking about how he got started into biking.  With a quick laugh Dave said that Judy and her family are largely to blame.  Judy's father liked to bike and like all bikers, he had an extra bike laying around that Dave could use.  He quickly found out that he really liked riding and eventually felt that he should have his own bike.  This opened the floodgate.  Dave remembers that at the time Clear Lake held a 'Lake Race' that was a 14 mile race.  At the time Dave couldn't imagine riding, let alone racing 14 miles.  He said that there were maybe 100 people in the race and he was amazed that he was able to finish in the middle of the pack.  He felt that this could really be the start of something fun.  From there Dave started doing longer and faster paced rides.  Over the years Dave kept participating in the 'Lake Race' - winning it twice.  We got talking about more current riding.  Dave said his longest ride this year is at 80 miles.  Though last year he hit the century mark on three separate rides.  Also last year Dave had three consecutive months where he rode over 1,000 miles each month.  All this coming from the guy who thought 14 miles in one ride was a lot and didn't consider himself to be an athlete at one point.  

Among all the biking conversations that we had, we got around to talking about what type of riding is his favorite.  This stumped Dave for a few moments.  He said it really depends on the day more than anything, as each type of riding scratches a different itch.  Gravel riding has the edge as his favorite as it has that adventure feel, you deal with less traffic and have a greater variety of route choice.  Dave is very much a person who enjoys the experience and journey of a ride.  He enjoys Cyclocross racing for its competitive nature.  Dave really started to light up when we started talking about cyclocross.  This year he is currently ranked 5th nationally in Cyclocross rankings for his age bracket.  Dave also loves to do road riding - he admitted that he likes to go fast.  Anyone that has ever rode a bike with Dave knows that if someone starts to pull ahead trying to race, that he is right there in the thick of things.       

Dave has been involved in the biking community since the 1980's.  Dave is a Co-Founding member of the 'Cannonball Cross' Race and was the Race Director up until last year - he is currently a Race Committee Member.  'Cannonball Cross' is one of the largest cyclocross races in the state of Iowa.  He also played a major role on the race committee for the 'Bicycle Blues and BBQ' race that was held in Clear Lake from 2004 through 2019.   During its run it was among the bigger races in the Midwest. Dave is a former member of the 'North Iowa Touring Club', spending some time as the President.  He also was President for several years for North Iowa Spin.  When he wasn't busy being a member of varies organizations or races over the years, Dave has led Group Road Rides since the 90's.  Most notably was the start of 'Wednesday Worlds', which has been a high intensity and endurance group road ride since its inception.  It is a ride that often ranges 30 to 40 miles with a 20 mile per hour average.  It has since shifted from being hosted on Wednesday's and is now every Monday starting at Wayne's Ski and Cycle.    

We lastly discussed why it is that he chooses a semi-retired lifestyle working at Wayne's in the Service Center.  Dave boiled it down to a few key reasons.  He has always enjoyed tinkering with bikes, which started when he was still in grade school.  Working at the shop gives him that opportunity to still tinker.  Dave said that the other employees are a huge reason why he enjoys coming in.  He is around like minded people that love riding bikes and are passionate about what they do.  Needless to say it was wonderful to interview Dave and learn more about him.  If you are interested in joining Dave or any of us on upcoming Group Bike Rides, you can find the information below!

Group Bike Ride Information

Zeki Eldadah - August 2023

Written by: Abraham Wolf

For our next 'Community Highlight' we got a chance to interview Zeki Eldadah.  Zeki was a 4 year participant with the Mason City Mountain Bike Club and frequently joins our Tuesday Group Mountain Bike rides.  It was great interviewing him - getting to learn about Zeki, who he is as a person and what he loves about biking.

Zeki lives in Mason City with his family and has been a resident since moving to the area when he was in 1st grade from Des Moines.  Zeki is a 2023 graduate from Mason City Community Schools and is planning to attend Iowa State University in the fall to pursue a degree in Aerospace Engineering.  We explored what got him to want to pursue Aerospace Engineering - the answer for Zeki was simple.  He said that love of airplanes started at a young age and has stuck with him ever since.  He's always loved the concept of airplanes, how air resistance effects how they move and the mechanics behind how they function.  Zeki said that Iowa State is one of the best schools in the country (if not the world) for Aerospace Engineering.  He was on the Honor Roll every semester throughout High School and even achieved a 4.0 GPA for three semesters.  Zeki managed to earn "The MCHS Distinguished Student Scholarship" this past year - while he wasn't totally sure how he earned that, we both concluded with a laugh that have a number of 4.0 GPA semesters likely helped him.    

We got to talking about what got him into riding bikes.  He said that it started out of necessity more than anything.  When he was younger it was a mode of transport and if he wanted to go to a friend's house or the store, he had to ride his bike.  Zeki said that he first was introduced to mountain biking when he was in 7th grade when a friend took him out to Zerble's Trail.  After one ride he knew he was hooked.  Zeki remembers how he had a department store bike, and while it technically worked for the trails - it didn't help his overall experience.  He quickly started looking for an upgrade and found a Trek Marlin shortly after.  He started riding every week from then on.  Over time he slowly upgraded parts of the bike like putting better brakes on it and upgrading the drive train to a 1x.  Zeki said it has been a great first bike and held up over the years.  We looked at what he likes about mountain biking .  He said that he likes how it makes you stay on your toes, you can't really relax and how you need to quickly think to conquer features.  We talked about what local sections of trails are his favorites.  He said he likes the rock garden type trails - these are trails with a lot of technical features where picking your line is critical.  He likes 'Christmas Tree' and 'Bike Wash' the most when it comes to local trails.  Zeki said that he loves the group rides more than anything.  He said that he likes being pushed to go faster and how he can ride some of the more technical sections and still feel safe with others around.  You can check out which segments Zeki is talking about by clicking the YouTube links at the bottom of this article.

Zeki and I got a chance to talk about his involvement with the Mason City Mountain Bike Club.  He was a 4 year participate with the club.  Whenever there was an event to attend - Zeki was there.  Virtually every practice - Zeki was there.  Every time there was a trail work day - Zeki was always there.  This year Zeki earned "The Coaches Award."  He earned the award with his constant hard work and continued dedication to being there with the team.  We had a chance to speak to Steve Bailey who is one of the coaches of the club.  Steve said that Zeki came in as a freshman being fairly raw in terms of biking skill level.  "Over the course of 4 years Zeki turned into a fantastic mountain biker by his senior year."  Bailey continued - "Zeki rarely ever missed a practice over those years and was constantly riding in between practices."  Steve noted that, "His skill level and competence continued to rise and he went from suffering on the trails, to enjoying and thriving."  Steve loved seeing the progression from being extremely fresh to riding with the adults on the Tuesday Group Mountain Bike Rides.  

When we asked Zeki why he chooses Wayne's Ski and Cycle for his biking needs he said it's the people.  He likes the atmosphere where the people are nice, helpful and only recommends what we use.  He said when you are on a budget that Wayne's does a great job of working within that budget to get you what you need.  Zeki said that he really likes that after you have been stopping in for a while that you start to get greeted by name.  It's always great seeing Zeki in the shop and on the rides.  We wish him the best of luck in Ames next year!    

"Christmas Tree" Video            "Bike Wash" Video

Dennis Lee - July 2023

Written by: Abraham Wolf

Our next 'Community Highlight' is Dennis Lee of Mason City.  Dennis was an easy nomination for this month's highlight as he single handedly moved a bridge that had previously been set by using heavy machinery and a small group of people.  Here is a link to the post on Facebook for context: .  The mountain biking community was beyond grateful in Dennis' problem-solving abilities and determination in realigning a bridge. 

Dennis is a lifelong resident of Mason City.  He graduated High School from Mason City and attended NIACC for two years - graduating with a focus on pre engineering.  While in college he worked at 'Wayne's Ski and Sports' - which eventually became 'Wayne's Ski and Cycle'.  Upon graduating NIACC, Dennis moved his education to Iowa State University where he studied Vocal Music Performance and Choral Conducting.  It was in Ames that he met his wife Camille of 32 years.  Dennis laughed when he was asked about how they met.  They both were in the Iowa State Singers at ISU, though it took a choir trip to Poland for them to first speak to each other.  While in college Dennis studied Aerospace Engineering - which led to him working for Boeing for 6 years. Currently Dennis is a Software Architect/Engineer and has been since 1995.  Dennis also spends time as the Artistic Director for Una Vocis Choral Ensemble, which he has done since 2005.

We discussed what got him into biking and the story really became more about how he got back into biking.  During his college years he worked at Wayne’s and then part time at a bike shop in Lynwood, Washington assembling new bikes, though getting back into biking was more of a recent development.  He remembers walking Zerble's Trail and seeing single track mountain bike trails off to the side one day.  He didn't know any of the trails existed and decided to explore.  He quickly found that there was a surprisingly large number of trails and loved how well they were constructed.  This prompted him to start working on getting his 1990's GT Mountain Bike up and running so he could explore the trails.  While working on his bike he started to run into issues like sticky shifters and quickly found that he may need to look at a new bike, mainly to update geometry and suspension.  He decided to stop at Wayne's to see what was available.  He found that modern full suspension mountain bikes are ideal for our trails and walked out with not only a new bike for him but a bike for his eldest son.  This quickly turned into his youngest son getting a mountain bike as well so they could go out as a family.  Dennis said that his goal was to do something that would help his fitness though also something he could do with his sons.  He said that mountain biking is far and away his favorite type of riding.  He loves how it feels to go fast with trees going by and jumping logs.  Dennis chuckled quite a bit when we talked biking with other people on single track and how he got a good friend into biking by letting him test ride his fat tire bike.  

We explored how Dennis is involved within the community.  Dennis got involved with North Iowa Human Powered Trails shortly after picking up biking again.  It first started when he got into snow riding and volunteered to help using the snow groomer.  This then turned into helping on trail work days by clearing overgrowth and patching sections of trail.  Last year a section of trail flooded, which resulted in a bridge constructed of two telephone poles and 2x4s had shifted off the trail.  This bridge had been placed using heavy machinery and a small team of individuals.  Dennis and his son were able to move it back into place using levers and a little muscle.  From that time on, Dennis felt like he had adopted the bridge.  Earlier this year the same situation happened - heavy rains caused a flooding of trail and the bridge again moved.  Members of NIHPT had begun planning on bringing in heavy machinery to get it moved back into place.  Dennis admitted that he likes challenging mechanical problems and felt that moving the bridge back into place would be a "fun thing".  He ended up using an 8,000lb cable come-along, straps and a couple 2x8 boards.  A combination of digging down under the poles to position the 2x8s, using neighboring trees to anchor straps and using the cable come-along - he was able to realign the bridge little by little.  All by himself.  

During our discussion we talked about why he chooses Wayne's as his bike shop.  He said that it's the people.  He has found that the knowledge and employees listening to him while finding the right items for what he needs has proven to be invaluable.  He also likes the quality of gear the shop carries.  While gearing up for winter riding last year he found that shop employees were able to help direct him towards getting him exactly what he needed to continue riding year round.  We also talked a little bit about North Iowa Mountain Biking.  Dennis said that he is extremely proud what this area is doing for the mountain biking community.  Between the grant received last year and people volunteering - he loves what he sees in our community and our dedication to making this area a safe and fun outdoor recreation destination.  

Jeff Doolittle - June 2023

Written by: Abraham Wolf

Our next ‘Community Highlight’ is Jeff Doolittle of Mason City. Jeff grew up in Prairie City Iowa, which is a town of just under 2,000 people situated east of Des Moines.  After graduating High School, Jeff completed his under grad at The University of Northern Iowa in 1997.  That turned out to be a busy year for Jeff as he was married and then started medical school at The University of Iowa in the fall.  Jeff completed his Residency in Mason City in 2004.  Since then Jeff has moved around a few times.  He lived in Algona and then moved to Wichita to do some teaching.  A little over a year ago Jeff and his family moved back to Mason City where Jeff has been a Family Physician at MercyOne. At MercyOne he spends about half of his time doing administrative work while also spending the other half seeing patients.  Jeff has 6 children with his wife.  They range from 7 years old all the way to 23 years old.  He said that he has 3 at home, 2 in college and 1 that just graduated college.    


Jeff said that he has always been into riding ever since he was a kid.  He mentioned that when he was in High School that he would ride 15 miles to and from school.  When he got to college is when his passion for riding really started to take off as that was when he discovered mountain biking.  Jeff said that of all the types of riding that mountain biking is far and away his favorite.  He loves the change of terrain, that need to pay attention to the immediate now and that great mix of trail features.  He really likes that you build skills while also improving your fitness level.  Jeff noted that he likes the laid-back nature of group mountain bike rides.  What Jeff really loves is going to new locations and seeing what the different communities do with their trail systems and topography.  We did discuss other types of riding and Jeff ranked road riding as his 2nd favorite.  He said really likes the fitness aspect of it.  He then ranks gravel as his 3rd.  Jeff does help with the Mason City Mountain Bike Club as a coach.  As he is getting more settled Jeff has been donating more of his time to giving back to the community. 


During our discussion Jeff said that as a Family Physician he often looks at people’s wellness and what they can do to be on a healthy track.  While there are things like diet that they look at, he also looks for healthy habits.  He has found that biking is such a good option for so many people and that he often finds himself prescribing biking as one of those options.  With a chuckle Jeff said that he does warn his patients that biking can be addictive. 


When we asked Jeff why he chooses Wayne’s as his bike shop, he said that he loves how everyone is friendly and approachable.  He said that it is a “Cheers” like atmosphere where everyone knows your name and they treat you like a friend.  Jeff has been impressed with the selection of product available.  He said that when he was looking for a new light that multiple employees chipped in with what they liked about the different lights.  He said he doesn’t feel there is that need to shop online for biking items.  Jeff made sure to mention that he has found the Service Center to do a great job.  That he doesn’t question the work and the last time his bike was in the shop he took it straight from the shop to the trail. 

Carrie Tysdahl - May 2023

Written by: Abraham Wolf

The next ‘Community Highlight’ is Carrie Tysdahl of Clear Lake. Carrie grew up in Tripoli Iowa being quite active in athletics. While going to high school she drew the attention of college scouts and landed a volleyball scholarship to play at Northwest Missouri State University. Upon graduating college she settled in Kansas City and then married her husband. While there she participated in her first triathlon and quickly fell in love with the sport. She laughed when asked about it as she said she remembers that she bought her first bike the week of the race. She said it was entry level and aluminum – both of which are not ideal for racing. Currently Carrie works for American Solutions for Business as a Distributor of Promotional Products and Apparel. When she isn’t at her day job (this time of year) she can be found teaching Tri Class’s at the Clear Lake Athletics and Wellness Center. It is a 12 week class leading up to the TRI Clear Lake event. She is also a volunteer for the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce throughout the year. 

Carrie is very involved in the community. She started teaching spin classes and coaching athletes for triathlons in 2011 while living in Nashua Iowa. She quickly found that there was a demand in the area for triathlons. She founded the ‘TriByKnight’ Triathlon in Waverly and is one of the Race Directors. ‘TriByKnight’ is now in its 12th year and attracts 300 participants annually. It is a 300 yard swim, 15 mile bike ride and 3.1 mile race. Eventually Carrie moved to Clear Lake with her family and co-founded ‘TRI Clear Lake’. ‘TRI Clear Lake’ is now in its 7th year and has grown exponentially each year. It started with 200 participants its first year and this past year eclipsed 600 racers. This year ‘TRI Clear Lake’ is the USAT Iowa State Championship and is being held on May 27 in Clear Lake Iowa. If you are interested in participating, you can sign up at the following website: Registration needs to be submitted by May 21st. When Carrie isn’t busy coaching or directing triathlons she does a fair amount of participating in them. Last November she raced in the Ironman Florida, placing 8th overall and 3rd in her age bracket. She noted that she missed the Ironman World Championship by just one slot. Recently she raced in the Ironman Texas which was the North and South America Championship. She not only achieved a personal record in the race by over 50 minutes but she also placed 7th in her age bracket. This earned her a spot in this years Ironman World Championship in Kona Hawaii.

When we asked her about her favorite type of riding she admitted that she is a “straight line, hard surface, go fast kind of gal.” She said that she does enjoy riding around Clear Lake with her husband and three boys. Though if she had to choose her absolute favorite, she said she likes to go fast.

We discussed why she chooses Wayne’s Ski and Cycle as her go to bike shop. Carrie said that she has lived in a number of different communities and as an athlete and cyclist - Wayne’s is by far her favorite for several reasons. She said that as a female and as a triathlete that she has never felt more welcomed and has never felt like she was treated different. She said that the store and Matt Curtis has always been very supportive of her over the years. Whether its been Mechanical 101 Clinics for her ladies in the tri community, to donating time or knowledge, she has always felt that the folks at Wayne’s have always been there to support her and her athletes. She has always appreciated how gracious Matt has been in helping her kids become more comfortable with cycling. 

Brooke Bailey - April 2023

Written by: Abraham Wolf

Our next 'Community Highlight' is Brooke Bailey of Mason City. Brooke grew up and graduated from Nora Springs, Iowa. In 2010 she moved to Rochester, Minnesota where she started graduate school at the Mayo Clinic. Brooke and her family moved back to Mason City in 2015 where she became a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist at MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center. After moving back she noticed a lack of cycling opportunities for the youth of North Iowa. This prompted Brooke and her husband Steve to look into what they could do for the community. Brooke currently volunteers a considerable amount of her time to a wide array of organizations centered on cycling. 

She was a co-founding board member of the Cannonball Cross Cyclocross Race. This is a race that has been held yearly at East Park in Mason City since 2016. The past two years the race was cancelled due to Covid and weather conditions, though in 2020 it attracted 250 registered racers from 8 states.  This made it the largest cyclocross race in Iowa. 2016 was a busy year as she also co-founded Spin Devo, which is a regionally competitive cycling team. It is a youth development race team that focuses on both Road and Cyclocross racing.  

In 2018 she helped co-found the Mason City Mountain Bike Club. This club was created at the same time as the Iowa Scholastic Mountain Bike League. The league started with 5 kids all from Mason City. The first race was held at Lime Creek on the double track which attracted a total of 7 racers. This year the Iowa Scholastic Mountain Bike League will have 7 races across the state, involving 10 teams and an estimated 125 racers. This includes a race in Mason City on our single track course.  Both of her children have been highly involved with the club over the years. Brooke added that the Mason City Mountain Bike Club is looking for more coaches. If you are interested, you can contact Brooke through the clubs Facebook page.

North Iowa Human Powered Trails is yet another organization that Brooke helped co-found and is currently a board member. Since 2019 this group has been responsible for the building and maintaining of the single-track mountain bike trails in Mason City.  Brooke and NIHPT were key in getting Mason City and Cerro Gordo County the $4.5 million dollar Destination Iowa Grant last year. The grant is part of a total project investment of $11.9 million dollars that will be used for outdoor recreation projects like mountain bike trail infrastructure. 

In 2022 Brooke became a board member on the Lime Creek Foundations Board. She was excited that Lime Creek hosted its first Fat Tire Bike race this year during the Winter Fun Fest in early 2023. It was a race that involved 22 riders from locations such as the Twin Cities, Cedar Rapids and Estherville (as well as many racers from the local area). When RAGBRAI came through Mason City Brooke was also heavily involved as the Information Chair. She coordinated 4 locations throughout Mason City to help riders when they came in from the 100 mile trip starting in Emmetsburg. 

Brooke can’t pinpoint the exact moment she got into biking though noted there has been a progression over the years. She remembers her husband first getting into triathlons. Shortly thereafter she joined him in participating in triathlons. This eventually turned into road racing for both Bailey’s. Road racing then turned to cyclocross, which then turned into enduro mountain biking. Brooke noted that one little thing snowballed into all different kinds of biking over the years for her and her family. During the entire progression Brooke noted that she was always mountain biking. Brooke said her favorite riding is very weather dependent. She absolutely loves muddy cyclocross and will choose that anytime she can. Though when not muddy she prefers to ride mountain bike. When we asked Brooke why she chooses Wayne’s as her bike shop she said that “Wayne’s has always been a strong supporter of the community and I believe in a strong community relationship.” 

Mark Dix - March 2023

Written by: Abraham Wolf

Our next 'Community Highlight' is Mark Dix.  Mark is semi-retired as an Insurance Agency owner in Nora Springs and realtor with Century 21 Preferred where he has enjoyed working with the public for the last 35 years.  Mark grew up as a farm kid in Greene, Iowa where he would get on his twenty inch bike every chance he got.  He fondly remembers buying a banana seat, raised bars and building up a Schwinn Stingray.  He notes that he was a bit reckless with this bike when he survived a near miss by a feed truck when he was bombing out of the farm driveway.  When he outgrew his bike he quickly lost interest in biking for the next 30 years.  

In 1993 a client, LeRoy Stonecypher, stopped at the insurance office.  He was preparing for a ride across America called the 'Pacific to Atlantic tour in 30 days'.  Mark had expressed interest in this challenge of riding 3000 miles in 30 days.  LeRoy sold Mark his old bike - a Trek 820 touring bike for a song.  LeRoy was a part of the "North Iowa Touring Club" and was telling stories of rides the club sponsored and other activities.  Marks first ride with the club was a 65 miler called the “Leaf Lookers Ride” in Decorah.  There he joined Bob Krueger and Bill Neal for the longest ride he had ever attempted.  Mark survived the steep hills of Northeast Iowa, a dog chase and head winds so strong you had to pedal downhill.  He felt totally exhausted yet thrilled with his accomplishment.  He knew then and there that he was hooked on cycling.  He loves how cycling provides an outlet and is an excellent source for exercise.  "The best part of cycling is it keeps a person in excellent physical condition so with this hobby I can justify the expense because it is supports my physical condition."  He notes that the problem with improved technology and competitive cycling is there is always something better.  Mark thinks that he is now on his sixth carbon framed bike.  His favorite is still his road bike followed by his mountain bike, fat tire bike and just purchased a designated gravel bike.  He has discovered Tucson for winter riding.  It is a haven for cyclist, with dedicated trails, mountain climbs and excellent bike clubs for organized rides.   

When asked why he chooses Wayne's Ski and Cycle as his shop of choice, he thinks back to when he purchased his first new bicycle from Wayne’s - a 5200 carbon bicycle.  He noted that it was "a true hot rod compared to the steel touring bike I had."  Mark said that "Matt at Wayne’s is always supportive of our rides, helping to support and promote any way possible.  He's provided swag, bicycle repair and advertising for any bike function."  Mark went on to say that, "Wayne’s provides storage for NITC spin class, storing trainers, stereo equipment and mats.  They are always there to lend a helping hand.  I am proud to reciprocate and direct my bicycle business to Wayne’s for what he does for the community and the excellent service he provides."

Derek Mauser - February 2023

Written by: Abraham Wolf

Our first ‘Community Highlight’ is Derek Mauser of Osage, Iowa. Derek is a third-generation member of Mauser Insurance, a crop insurance business that his grandfather founded in 1981. Derek has always liked bikes and vividly remembers riding Schwinn Sting-Ray’s in his youth. Roughly 8 years ago Derek wanted to get back into biking. He came into Wayne’s Ski and Cycle looking for an “old person” bike where he could comfortably cruise around town and nothing more. He remembers seeing a Trek Farley 5 in the shop and asked “what the deal was about these fat tire bikes.” He was encouraged to take it on a test ride to see how much fun you can have on one. All it took was one test ride and he found his new passion.

When asked what kind of riding he enjoys the most he said; “single track, hands down, every time.” He said that he loves it because it has a motocross energy to it. Derek’s love of biking further evolved after he rode single track mountain bike trails at Levis Mounds in Wisconsin and Cuyuna Lakes Trails in Minnesota. He then noticed the community that had been growing in Mason City and how the trail system had been quickly expanding because of the large community involvement. Derek put together a power point and presented it to Mitchell County. He really focused on eco tourism, which is tourism that is directed toward healthy outdoor activities that promote the local environment and economy. What started as a solo venture of flagging and designing trail on county land quickly blossomed into a group of like-minded individuals that became a group called the “Mitchell County Mountain Goats”. This group has become responsible for maintaining and expanding the trail system into Osage. Derek noted that they wouldn’t be able to maintain and grow their trails without the community support of The Goats and others who volunteer their valuable time.

When asked why he chooses Wayne’s Ski and Cycle, he said that he feels that the crew at Wayne’s is as enthusiastic about riding as he is. Derek feels that it’s an environment where there is no such thing as a “stupid” question - that he can ask anything without being judged. He really enjoys Wayne’s because he feels like the shop is invested in him and his experience while biking. Derek feels that as his riding ability has progressed that we have been in tune with his evolving needs and been able to equip him to have the best experience possible.

Derek said that the future is what really excites him. The future being Osage continuing to expand their trail system and Mason City heavily investing in their trail system in conjunction with the Destination Iowa Grant last year. He feels that there is some neat stuff coming up over the next few years where this area can become a tourist destination for many different levels of bikers and outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Derek was a delight to interview, and we thank him for everything he has done to promote biking in the community!