On a bicycle, a rider must strike a delicate balance between being in control and letting the bike do its thing. Many bikes are specifically designed with high-tech suspension systems built for barreling over rocks, roots and other obstacles — and the rider must trust the bike can handle the terrain.
This trust and perseverance, inextricably entwined with a competitive guy like Dave Maclean, is a recipe for an athlete who wins.
“He has more medals and trophies than I can count,” said Kathy Maclean, Dave’s wife of 25 years.
Dave said what he has learned in cycling competitions has easily been transferred to his life and work. With the help of manager and mechanic Derek Roesler, the Macleans own Ludington’s Spindrift Cyclesports, a full-service bike shop that sells, repairs and rents bikes of all types. Dave also is the president of Shoreline Cycling Club.
“If you want to be a serious competitor in a given sport, set some goals, develop a training plan and stay focused,” he said. “Setting very high goals and constantly challenging myself with different sports keeps me motivated and balanced.”
In any technique-driven sport, Dave said, lessons or coaching are always critical, lest the athlete develops bad habits. And whether you’re a serious competitor or not, the enjoyment of competing is derived from the friendships made along the way.
“If someone has a personal goal to finish a competition, then my advice would be to enjoy the experience as much as possible,” Dave said. “That would include finding a group to train with that shares the same goals.”
Dave felt driven to compete — regardless of the sport — since childhood, starting with swimming. Now at age 61, he still enjoys competition and has no plans to give it up anytime soon. Aside from cycling, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and trail running are among his beloved hobbies.
His favorite cycling competition is the Perskindol Swiss Epic mountain bike stage race, where he spent five days racing in the Swiss Alps as a two-person team with Brian Monton of Pentwater.
The scenery and experience were incredible, he said, but it also was pretty grueling.
“He’s being modest, as usual,” Kathy chimed in. “The two races that stand out to me are the Lillehammer XC Ski Masters World Cup 2004 relay race with three past Olympic athletes, and his 2011 first-place age-group win in Maui at the Xterra World Championship.”
Although Dave grew up riding bikes, he didn’t catch the bug until he began competing in triathlons in the early ’80s. After several years as a competitive triathlete, he was turned on to mountain bikes.
“Since then, I have ridden and raced everything from road bikes and gravel bikes to fat bikes, but mountain bikes remain my favorite,” he said.
Like Dave, Kathy grew up riding a bike. However, it was Dave who bought her first mountain bike and introduced her to trail riding. These days, Kathy and Dave enjoy combining bike trips with an experience, like a ride at Arcadia Dunes and a visit to Stormcloud Brewing Company in Frankfort or Iron Fish Distillery in Thompsonville.
“Riding the gravel roads between Pentwater and Silver Lake, then enjoying a dip in the lake and a good sunset, also is a favorite,” Dave said. “There are so many great things to see and do along the Lake Michigan coast together.”
The Macleans purchased the building where Spindrift is located (102 W. Ludington Ave.) in 2010, the year Dave knew he wanted to put his decades of interest and experience to work.
“I wanted to do something I was passionate about and I wanted to stay in Ludington,” Dave said. “Ludington is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts — a great location for a full-service bike shop.”
“The best thing about Ludington is that it still holds onto that small-town friendliness and authentic feel,” Kathy added. “And of course, the beaches and state park are amazing.”
After five years of prep, Spindrift Cyclesports opened in 2015, but working side by side is relatively new to the Macleans. Kathy is the former president and CEO of Ludington and Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce.
“The timing is working out great,” Dave said. “She just retired from her job at the Chamber. She gets all of the credit for our really awesome window displays. What sets Spindrift apart from other shops is that we are small enough to really care about our customers and we are passionate about what we do.”
Manager and mechanic Derek Roesler grew up in the bike business, and still loves it as much as ever. Dave and Roesler are willing to spend as much time as necessary to ensure each guest who comes into the store has all their questions answered.
“If someone is buying a bike, Dave and [Roesler] make sure it’s the right bike for them,” Kathy said. “All of us are passionate about riding and want people to be happy with their purchase so they’ll go home and ride their bike.”
While there, visitors also can enjoy Spindrift’s very own coffee bar. Interestingly, Dave doesn’t like coffee at all.
Coffee bars are common in bike shops out west and in Alaska, where the Macleans spotted them quite frequently and knew they had to include one in their shop. Kathy takes credit for Spindrift’s coffee bar, yet claims Dave is the better barista.
“It’s not surprising,” Kathy said. “Dave’s that guy who is determined to be the best at anything and everything he takes on.”
Juneau Maclean, the shop dog who comes to work with Dave nearly every day, adds even more personality to Spindrift. Lightning-fast, Juneau was bred to be a skijor/sprint sled dog. In mountain-bike terminology, she loves to shred. And for the record, she was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, not Juneau.
“She is super mellow in the shop and loves kids,” Dave said. “Juneau has her own set of customers that come in just to see her.
“If only we could teach her to sell bikes!”
Making a difference
About 11 years ago, Dave approached the board for Ludington Area School District about building gateway mountain-bike trails on about 100 acres of land referred to as the “School Forest.” The board informed Dave no such trail system could be built until there was a formal organization with insurance.
Thus, the Shoreline Cycling Club was formed. It since has built a single-track trail system of more than 10 miles, nearly all within the Ludington city limits.
“It’s pretty amazing to see not only the large number of people who use the trails, but also the diversity in age and ability,” Dave said.
The club is now a 501(c)(3) organization that spans Oceana, Mason, Lake, Manistee and Benzie counties, and spends hundreds of hours every year maintaining trails like the Big M system near Manistee and parts of the North Country Trail.
Shoreline works with a variety of land managers and municipalities to help maintain and increase access to cycling opportunities, and educates the public about cycling. During winter months, club members groom over 25 miles of trails ideal for fat- bikes, including the Ludington and Manistee systems.
“The club puts out a killer publication called the DIRTroad,” Dave said. “It mostly covers mountain bike trails, but also has some road rides. The most recent edition covers hot topics like gravel riding and bike packing with articles and detailed maps.”
The club continues to look for opportunities to build additional trails in the area and develop events to promote them. For the time being, future events are on hold until gathering is safe.
“The club is a catalyst for creating enthusiasm toward cycling, and more specifically, mountain biking,” Dave said. “We bring people together who share that same enthusiasm.”
The Macleans’ top 5 bicycling safety tips:
- No matter where you ride, wear a helmet.
- If you ride on the road, wear bright clothes and use a good taillight.
- Ensure your bike is mechanically sound.
- Obey traffic laws.
- Never assume a driver or another rider sees you.
To see Spindrift Cyclesports’ bicycling products, visit spindriftcyclesports.com.
To learn more about Shoreline Cycling Club, visit shorelinecyclingclub.org.
Featured image courtesy of Ludington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau