Guest Column: Why I love Albert Lea

Published 9:00 am Friday, April 26, 2019

Scott Martin is co-owner of Martin’s Cycling & Fitness in Albert Lea.

I grew up in Plainview, which is a small town outside of Rochester. I came from a large family, where we did side jobs to supplement the income my father made as a school custodian. We delivered newspapers, mowed lawns and had a little bicycle business in the garage. Every day after supper, my dad and the boys in the family would go out to the garage and do the repairs. This experience led my brothers to open a bicycle business of their own in Owatonna.

My brother, and his wife and I, decided to open another shop, and in 1981 on the Monday after my high school graduation, I came to Albert Lea to work in that shop. I did not know a lot about Albert Lea, but my first impression was how big Albert Lea seemed in comparison to the town of 2,500 people where I grew up.

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I remember wondering that first day if I was doing the right thing, but I am happy to say that I have been able to maintain a business and raise a family here. In addition, looking back on the last 38 years, I have come to a deep appreciation for the quality of life that Albert Lea has provided for my family and myself.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to know and serve generations of families. The pleasure of finding the perfect bike, skates, hockey equipment and other sporting goods remains a pleasure.  The business has changed over the years, but what has not changed is the knowledge that what I am selling is a good product that can improve the lives of my customers. Seeing the excitement a child has as they wheel that bike out of the shop, or the excitement someone has when they walk out with that new road bike makes a long day worthwhile.

I am an avid biker and the roads within and just outside of Albert Lea provide the perfect backdrop to an early morning ride. There is nothing better than coming down South Shore Drive with its beautiful views of Albert Lea Lake. With the bike trails, bike lanes and back roads, this is a great place to enjoy cycling.

Waking up to the sunrise across Albert Lea Lake or watching the sunset from our pontoon in the evening on Fountain Lake are times to be treasured. My wife, my children and I spent many Sundays in the summer going down to the dock, where we would meet friends and spend the day. Hours would be devoted to pulling the kids behind the boat, while they hollered for us to go faster. Our children are grown now, but we still enjoy a slow ride around the lake. It is there that I can relax and shake of the worries of the day.

For our children Rachel, 34, Josh, 23, and Will, 21, Albert Lea is their hometown.  This community has a deep commitment to its youth. This is easily realized when I see the beautiful high school, the splash pad, parks and the large community attendance at every school event. Our children were all active in sports, and this is where we have met some of our dearest friends. 

Finally, it is the open invitation to serve the community that I have come to appreciate the most.  With the encouragement of others, I have been able to be involved in the park board, the Jaycee’s, the bike trail association and now the Rock and Roll around the Lakes committee, all while running a business. I am proud to be a part of Albert Lea and to call it my home.