Name: Jeff Henkemeyer

Age: 42

Occupation: Director of Business Development

Bikes:Custom Northern Frameworks Made in Minneapolis, Minnesota Custom Advocate Cycles Watchman Ti Fat bike

Q: When and how did you discover cycling?

A: When I was a kid around the age of 5. I won my first race, a BMX race sponsored by a local bike shop when I was 7 or so (I eventually ended up working at the same shop while in high school). I was the only kid who raced in my age class so I got first place. As kids, we road bikes to explore the woods and ATV trails, to go fishing and be independent. I was either on a bike or fishing. That has not changed. Although, I spend more time on a bike than in rivers now. In the 90s while working in a bike shop, I was lucky to experience the mountain bike revolution. Up until 2010 the only bikes I ever owned were BMX bikes and Mountain Bikes. That changed when we moved to Rochester, Minnesota and I sold my mountain bikes and jumped into gravel riding. The Filthy 50 was my first gravel event in 2013, the rest is history. I also had the Almanzo course roads near my house within riding distance, lucky is an understatement. Now I am primarily focused on gravel riding, with winter fat bike riding as you can imagine living in Minnesota. Fat bikes also make great gravel bikes. Especially when the roads are covered with fresh, chunky gravel!

Q: Has your inspiration to ride changed since then, and what is it now?

A: It hasn’t. I really enjoy the exploration and adventure of riding my bike(s). Pouring over maps, creating routes and finding new areas outside of Minneapolis and Northern Minnesota. Although, there is a competitive side to my riding now more so than ever. I started racing gravel events 6 years ago and got hooked!

Q: How would you define your style of gravel riding?

A: I would define it in two parts, one adventure and exploration and the second,racing gravel roads. At times though, I use the word “racing” loosely…. I am lucky to have met and become friends with people who have inspired my riding and taken it to so many different levels. The only riding I don’t do is track and cyclocross.

Q: Describe an ideal day on the bike.

A: Oh, it starts the night before! I create a new route, prep my kit and bike, get my on the bike nutrition ready for the next day, to roll out around 8am. I hop on my bike, listen to the morning sounds and head out. Riding new dirt roads and coming across new communities, terrain, etc. taking it all in. Mid ride stops for a coffee and food in tiny communities are the best. You see and experience so much on bike. That is my ideal ride.

Q: What are some notable trips you’ve done to enjoy cycling?

A: I don’t get to travel much for riding with work and a busy family life, but my favorite ride, race, event, trip is by far Le Grand Du Nord in Grand Marais, Minnesota. Remote gravel and forest service roads that go into the heart of northern Minnesota, touching up against the Canadian border. Typically, I get to ride with friends who I usually don’t get to ride with very much. It is absolutely some of the best scenery Minnesota has to offer. You feel alone when riding solo and everywhere you look, it’s like looking and riding through a post card. The dirt roads are incredible! The other one is Ragnarok 105. This event happens in the spring in Redwing, Minnesota. The course is amazing! With it being less than hour outside of Minneapolis, it offers everything! It has to be one of the best courses in Minnesota. You climb, yes, do you climb.

Q: You’re a Barnstormer Chapter Leader. What does that entail, and is there anything you hope to help other riders find within the club?

A: I hope to share experience with others. That is simple, a sense of exploration and adventure. I really hope to introduce people to new areas and experiences. There is so much around my area within 30 minutes of the Twin Cities. North, South, East and West! Jerry Garcia said it best, “you just gotta poke around.” I really want to get more people to have the experiences that I have had. I would like to share knowledge, routes and let others tap into what I have had the ability to play in. The dirt roads are there and in my area, there are lots of them. So much to share.

Q: Everyone who rides has something unique to offer. Do you know what you might offer, in that regard?

A: In my former life, I managed fly shops and guided in the Midwest and Montana. I loved sharing my knowledge and helping people have an experience that stayed with them. As a Barnstormer, I would like to be a resource in that regard to riding a bicycle off the beaten path. Assisting with routes and leading rides to bring a
collective experience. I have worked in bike shops, road and raced bikes on gravel and I am a gear nerd (clothing especially). I can offer people the chance to understand all aspects of gravel cycling. I offer myself as a resource. Whether it’s asking questions about gear, events and route planning, I want to be that resource.

Q: What role does cycling play in your current lifestyle?

A: Sanity, HA! It has allowed me to get my adventure fix, have a healthy lifestyle and meet new people. However, it is also a bit of an addiction. Bikes have always remained constant in my life and are part of who I am.