Friends of the Flock: Whitefish Bike Retreat

We wouldn't be the Black Sheep without our flock—and we'd like to start introducing you to the people, shops and organizations that partner with us! We're honored and stoked to share this interview with Nicole Jefferson from the Whitefish Bike Retreat.  
Quick Deets
  • Whitefish Bike Retreat
  • Located in Whitefish, MT
  • Established in 2013
Tell us a brief history of your bike shop—the origin story!
It all started with a woman and a dream. Cricket Butler started the Bike Retreat after riding her bike throughout the area and falling in love. She knew this was an area with a growing mountain bike community and she had a vision to create a place where cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds could come together and enjoy the best Montana has to offer, while being able to access the information and support they needed to get the most out of their visit here. In 2021 she sold it to the Dean family—Ron, Catherine, James and his wife Nicole. Together they are continuing and expanding this dream.
What niche does your shop fill in your community? What’s your “specialty”?
We are more than a shop, we are a destination! We have lodging, camping, trails, shuttles, bike rentals and a store. We provide a place to sleep where you ride for people that are passing through or spending more quality time in the area—a place for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the trails. It's not far from the Great Divide route so we are in a great position to help people along their travels at varying stages: beginning, middle, or end.  
What’s your favorite trail to ride on your home turf?
We are very lucky to have a lot of trails around us. I personally like the Beaver Lakes trails—there are some amazing views and they're right in my backyard, so I can piece together a long ride or a short one. James really likes the Spencer Mountain Trails because there are a lot of features and jumps that you can do more tricks with. 
What’s a bikepacking route or trail you have your bucket list?
I think the Pony Express would be an epic ride and is definitely on the bucket list.
What’s your current favorite bike to rip and why? 
Currently I (Nicole) have a Kona Honzo—I'm very much a go-with-the-flow kind of gal and this has been my ride for a while and has served me well. James just built a custom Chromag Stylus with i9 Hydra wheels.  He loves it because he built it to fit his style.  It's burly enough to handle black tech trails and light enough to feel good on the climbs—and bunny hops like a bmx!
What bike do you *wish* you could get your hands on to rip and why?
I have been eyeing the Santa Cruz Bronson—it is lighter than my current bike and seems like it could add a little more flavor to our rides. 
What’s your favorite Oveja Negra bag to use and why?
It's hard to pick one bag, but I think the 925 Handlebar Bag is my favorite ON bag. I can put everything I need in there for any sort of trip. It fits my phone, snacks, wallet, dog treats, etc. Plus I can take it with me if we have to leave our bikes behind! It is multifunctional, making traveling with it a no-brainer!
As a beloved bike shop vendor of Oveja Negra bags, you are part of the flock! What makes you a “black sheep?” How do you vibe with the concept of counter-culture, going against the grain, standing out in the crowd, being EXTRAordinary in your field, work, community and life? 
The better question is how are we not black sheep?! I think I've always been "me" ever since I was little. I have never been afraid to speak my mind and be blunt, though with age I have refined that moderately. I'm definitely "not for everyone" so to speak and I prefer it that way. My taste in everything seems to be a little off beat, whether it's music, "style" or food.  I think being eclectic and a little "out there" makes the world a more fun place!
Anything else people of the world should know about you, your shop, your service, your style?
The Bike Retreat is a place to come and have a cold beverage after a ride. It's a place for families to celebrate and get together. A place for weddings, somewhere friends can get together and go for a ride. We don't fit into a nice little box—we are our own hidden gem. An outdoor playground for any and everyone!

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