When I was 12, I started fixing bikes and selling them to my neighbors. When I was 14, I got my first job at a bike shop and started racing bikes around New England. During the following 35 years I have owned 3 different bikes shops, worked at shops in Florida and Vermont and given clinics to many schools.
In addition to working as a mechanic, salesman, manager, buyer, and owner at bike shops, I have been involved in many other related parts of the industry as well. These include being a sales representative for a bike company, designing frames, building frames out of steel, purchasing parts directly from overseas, and custom fabricating parts for customers.
I have also been involved in advocacy work, which includes giving away bikes that I have fixed to kids at Christmas -46 to date. I am a cofounder of Bike Recycle Vermont (BRV), an organization that gives away bikes to refugees that come to this country from the third world and to Vermonters of little or no means. To date BRV has given away over 2000 bikes!
I am also patented in 28 countries (US Pat # 6902177) for an all terrain wheelchair that is giving access to children in India and Ethiopia who are either polio or land mine victims. It is very rewarding to provide basic transportation to those who might otherwise not have it. There is a saying that goes “freedom is nothing without access”.
Here in America, most of us take for granted the ease in which we can get around. This being said, there are still people in this country that have various issues around getting around. One group of people is those who are too heavy for the normal bicycle design. Helping to get anyone from this group to be able to ride is very rewarding, as I believe that everyone deserves to be able to ride if they choose to do so.
Currently I own a bike shop called Little City Cycles in Vergennes, Vermont, where I fix and sell bicycles, as well as teach and build and service and sell Zize Bikes. My shop also allows me to be involved in giving away bikes to immigrants that have come from Mexico and Central America to work on farms around the county in which I live.
I am married to my wife of 20 years and have a son in college at Beloit College in Wisconsin. I live in a geodesic dome that we built ourselves. I also ride my bike as often as I can, always feeling better after I do.
Please call me if you have questions about your bike or are looking for something specific. I am always happy to chat about thoughts and ideas in the bike world!
(Photo:Tim Mathewson (left) receiving community service award from Chapin Spencer, Exec. Director of Local Motion, July, 2009)