Featured Volunteer: Kevin Dolan
Kevin Dolan may not be a face you recognize around the Bikes for the World warehouse but he has been an active champion of our cause for decades. Kevin has been a fixture at Race Pace Bicycles since the 90s and last week as those stores converted to Trek Bicycle shops we said goodbye to Kevin as we picked up our final load at the Owings Mills location, with him as manager.
Kevin got involved in cycling while he was still in college in 19Something-or-Other. Back then he was quite the competitor, was active in track and loved the outdoors (not much has changed). After an injury, he turned to cross training and started swimming and cycling so the journey into triathlons was natural. He crossed paths with a guy named Alex, who also had a thing for bikes.
That guy was Alex Obriecht and he had a bike shop named Cross Country Cycling Center. After graduation Kevin worked for Alex. He was still doing triathlons, racing, traveling....But he decided to give the 9-5 a go. He didn't trade in his cleats and spandex, but he now kept bankers hours in a suit and tie fighting the city rush. When his corporate job folded, Kevin's Rat Race days were over and he was back at Race Pace to help Alex manage his now expanding chain.
This ended up being a perfect fit. Kevin shared the same passions that Race Pace stood for, growing the local cycling community, advancing bike advocacy, and promoting humanitarianism. Kevin got involved with local cross races, youth cycling teams, and Bikes for the World! He was quick to accept many calls from our donors looking for information on how they could donate a bike. He also worked with his staff, especially mechanics, to encourage bike donations in lieu of costly/clunky bike repairs. On cheaper department store bikes it was often better for the owner to move into a new bike rather than be dissatisfied with an expensive repair job...and Bikes for the World often made that transition more appealing.
Last Wednesday was Kevin's last day at Race Pace. This week all the previous Race Pace locations will become Trek Bicycles. Kevin reflected back two years, almost to the day, when the staff sat down wondering how this new health crisis would play out. Within a week they had more questions than answers as the world quickly hit pause in an effort to shut down Covid-19. In Maryland, perhaps even influenced by Race Pace, bike shops were immediately defined as essential and Race Pace never closed their doors. There was a moment when customers were stopped outside, then lined up around the building waiting to get in a couple at a time, but the business never ceased.
Kevin recalls the minute gyms closed...their phones never stopped ringing. People were coming in to buy bikes, "the cheapest bike you have" which kept creeping up and up as stock sold down. Race Pace was in a good position early on in the pandemic, as many other states simply closed bike shops along with other businesses. Some states limited shops to repairs, and restricted new bike sales, leaving many manufacturers sending stock to Maryland shops who were asking...and Race Pace was asking.
Before long shops across the country were open for business and business was booming, but stock was dwindling fast. The popular sizes and styles of bikes were sold out. You couldn't get new helmets. Then tires. Derailleurs, chains are still hard to come by today. Bikes that had been sitting in sheds for decades were coming in the shops for repairs. There were staffing shortages. Customers were short-tempered as simple repairs often took weeks. Some new bikes still have an arrival time stretching years.
It was an interesting time to manage a bike shop...and Kevin rolled with the punches. Even throughout the chaos of March, April and May of 2020 Race Pace remained a steadfast partner of Bikes for the World and we relied heavily on our relationship to help continue to meet the needs of our global partners throughout the pandemic. We will miss Alex, Kevin, and all the dedicated wonderful staff of Race Pace (some will be staying on, and all shops will still be accepting donations)- it's been quite a TREK.
As for Kevin, he's already landed at a unique shop called Veloccino, nestled at the crossroads of a cycling hot spot in the rolling hills of Butler Md. If you are looking for a cool place to hang out and talk about bikes, sip a latte, or even grab a BBQ sandwich next door, drop in and say hi. If you've just gotten back from your weekend morning ride through the sprawling horse farms, and the coffee shop is jumping, you may even find Kevin assisting your barista with your cappuccino.