Featured Volunteer: Alexander Reichmann
Alex Reichmann was introduced to Bikes for the World at school during CESJDS's Families In Action community service day. As it turns out our warehouse is right across the street from the school and since that initial partnership, we've had many JDS students come join us after school for service hours. We have even hosted CESJDS in the warehouse for service projects. But that wasn't enough for Alex, he wanted to do more and got more involved outside of school.
Then COVID struck. No more school, no more students, no more service projects- for a minute. Meanwhile, everyone was stuck at home and realized something we ask our donors all the time, do you have a bike in your shed or garage you are no longer using? In case you were wondering, more people do than you think. Or maybe not, since the pandemic, in fact, you may have been one of those people who dug through the junk to pull out an old bike only to find, the tires were flat and the brakes were a little squeaky, or worse yet, not functioning at all. And now you actually wanted to use it.
And if this became your 2020 reality, you may have also learned that A) bike shops were actually open B) the wait time to turn around a bike stretched weeks C) if you actually needed a replacement part, it might not be readily available for months! What an opportune time for a young, aspiring, neighborhood bike mechanic.
Let's rewind a bit. We mentioned that Alex got involved with BfW back in 2018. This was after he was selected by the school to run the collection event based on his interest in cycling. You see his Grandfather is a cyclist and he got Alex on a bike when he was 4. Alex spent his free time riding around the neighborhood in between his team sports activities, like basketball and soccer. But he really like cycling. He asked his mom why there wasn't a team for bikes. She did a little research and found Rock Creek Velo, a youth cycling team for kids 9 and up. Alex was 9.
Today, Alex is still a member of Rock Creek Velo and he's quite competitive. He's currently a Cat 3 road racer who's participated in the Amateur Road Nationals the last three years (2020 excluded). He got bit by that competitive bug (well really he was probably born with it, it's in the family genes) early on and took first in a local cyclocross race. He went to the Cyclocross National Championships in 2019 and 2021.
So while the pandemic forced some of us to dust off our old bikes and start riding again, Alex found himself in the opposite camp...many of his activities and races had been put on hold in 2020. With the extra time and his passion for tinkering around bikes, he got serious about mechanics. With a little help from everyone's favorite pandemic pastime, Alex turned to YouTube and started to learn more about working on bikes. Then he had his first customer. And another. Then word got out and Alex turned the family garage into a neighborhood bike shop.
As the world began to turn once again on its axis, humanity slowly returned to normal activity. Alex was back in the classroom, taking tests and thinking about colleges. He was also racing bikes again and traveling to compete, and now, working in a real bike shop with a real paycheck. But he was itching to get back to work with Bikes for the World. We quickly brought him into the fold and threw him into the shop with the other student mechanics who became garage entrepreneurs during the pandemic. He's actually quite talented with repairs.
But his passion didn't start or end there. With two school bike collections under his belt, Alex broke away from the pack and chose to collect bikes for his Bar Mitzvah project back in 2019. And he did it again this summer. Next week we will be loading bikes for Barbados that Alex collected during one of the hottest collection events ever recorded at Bikes for the World. Actually Alex will be helping load that container after he gets home from the beach!