Stories from C4C

Read stories from our Cycles for Change participants!

Deqo Mohamed, Youth Apprentice

“I feel like if I see a mountain bike, all I can think about is summertime, and if I see a fat tire bike, I think of winter. So all the bikes have little meanings to me. The thin tires are summer and playing and fun. The winter are fat tires. There are some different bikes that I’ve learned about and not all bikes are the same.” – Deqo Mohamed

Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, Learn to Ride participant

“I think it’s very cool to do something that was sort of set up in my mind as something I couldn’t do, which was the same experience with powerlifting. I think this is changing, but I think that–for women especially–some of us didn’t grow up with a lot of physical skills. That was definitely my experience. It was very empowering to feel more physically competent.” – Elizabeth Wrigley-Field

Richard Lau, Learn to Ride participant

“I’m just really flabbergasted at how I had this mental block for years and years and years. My wife knows how to ride and she tried for years to help me. I think I can actually say now that I’ve learned how to ride a bike. Not confidently, but it’s getting there, and I’m looking at buying a bike.” – Richard Lau

Juana Sandoval, Volunteer

“I’ve definitely gotten that sense of belonging on different group rides or from just riding with friends,” she said. “Biking is a great way to meet people, like on slower group rides. It’s the perfect pace for casual conversation. There’s a sense of camaraderie that you can get with biking with other people. You don’t have to be interested in doing a 50-mile ride or racing or gearing up your bike with super lightweight components so you can go faster. There’s still other people like me that want to go on casual rides.” – Juana Sandoval

Jenna Severson, Volunteer

“Learning my own confidence is a skill. And when I’m sharing my skills, people show their appreciation for someone having that knowledge. Even just telling someone to pass on the left or telling them that cars won’t always stop for you is helpful for people to be safe. And as they are learning these things, it just becomes more natural. It’s satisfying to give people the building blocks [they need for bicycling].” – Jenna Severson

Melissa Wenzel, Slow Roll St. Paul Participant

“I like that the Slow Roll leaders stress rules of the road, too. I bike for transit primarily, so being on an organized ride is a completely different experience than biking for transit. I love it. It lets me relax and someone else gets to be in charge. I get to see the neighborhood and learn about the challenges that other people have when biking. I realize that I’m not alone and we are a community of people who want to bike for recreation, for transit, for work, for school. Every Slow Roll ride reminds of that.” – Melissa Wenzel

Lin McPherson, Volunteer

“One of the things I try to focus on is, no matter what’s going on, most of the time, no matter who you are, you have the capacity to fix [your bike] yourself. You just need to be given the right tools for it. Tools like a wrench and tools like confidence all go together. Confidence is a tool. Even more so than a ‘fourth hand’ [tool]. It was really fun to be able to help a Grease Rag participant with completely redoing her brake system. Knowledge and confidence were the two things I got to see her build, besides the brakes. I showed her the first time and she was basically able to do the second part herself, and she was really proud and it was really great to see that.” – Lin McPherson

Adwoa Afreh, Learn to Ride Student

“We heard different stories of why people were there [at the Learn to Ride class]. It makes you tap more into the experience. It helps you to know that there are so many people who also never learned how to ride and all the different reasons why people never learned. It was awesome to hear all the different stories. It was just awesome to see accomplishments of people riding. So now the whole story has shifted. My whole life’s story had been that I didn’t know how to ride.” – Adwoa Afreh

Asli Calkivik, Learn to Ride Student

“The values that are cherished in the [Learn to Ride] environment are so opposite of the values that are being promoted worldwide, like competition and egoism, where everyone is trying to take care of only themselves. So the Learn to Ride class was opposite of that–no one was competing with each other; everyone was helping each other out. It wasn’t you the individual; it was collective. It was not based on an exchange economy; you weren’t a customer.” – Asli Calkivik

Norman Whitfield, Donor

“You guys have the potential to change a person’s life. A lot of nonprofits kind of just get money and give stuff away, but you guys are actually interacting with people. You encompass all the different areas that a nonprofit can reach. Even outside of working in the community, you also put the thought of bicycling back in a person’s mind. Less driving, more cycling. The health benefits, the environmental benefits. This is my go-to place for cycling therapy.” – Norman Whitfield

Luke Whitlock, Youth Apprentice

“Before [the apprenticeship], I never really thought about the bike community. I didn’t realize there weren’t as many bikers as there could be. That there are barriers to biking and reasons why people don’t bike. I’d like to learn more about how to break down those barriers for people.” – Luke Whitlock

Francisco Quiterio, Youth Apprentice

“[What I like best about the program is] learning new mechanical skills and having people come here and getting to help them. I can be a teacher. I like to teach people how to fix their whole bike, their chains, derailleurs. Do big overhauls.” – Francisco Quiterio

Liliana Martinez, Youth Apprentice

“It doesn’t matter who you are—you can come in and get your bike fixed. We have homeless people come in to work on their bikes and they are treated like everyone else. [C4C has] taught me that everyone is equal and has changed the way I treat other people by seeing the way people are treated here.” – Liliana Martinez

Jack McCarthy and Hannah Field, Fundraisers

“What I enjoy about a bike is that I experience so much more about the journey than being in a car. Not only do I know the route from here to Seattle now, but I know the terrain. I know where the hardest hills are. I know it better than I would in a car when I zone out. I had to be vigilant all the time to get up and down the hills.” – Hannah Field

“It forced us to have opportunities we wouldn’t have had otherwise. We had to spend a lot of time looking at the landscape. We really got an appreciation for the scope of the land.” – Jack McCarthy

Jenny Brown, Bike Grant Program Participant

“People from all walks of life bike. I always had it stuck in my head that it was only the suburban white family that bikes. Definitely living here in St. Paul now and going to the Youth Bike Summit has changed what I had stuck in my head. The Bike Grant Program totally changed that. When I go biking now, I notice other bicyclists and they are waving at me and I wave back.” – Jenny Brown

Lisa and Adura Lansiquot, Learn to Ride Students

“I think a lot of people give up on balancing after the first class because they don’t get it right away and feel stupid. But they need to realize the method [the instructors use] really works. You need to be able to do the balancing on your own. It takes longer for some people. For me, I needed more than four classes to be able to turn on the bike.” – Adura Lansiquot

Eugene Bedeley, Youth Apprentice

“C4C shaped my beliefs and viewpoints of social issues. Spending a lot of time at C4C helped me to see things differently, for the better. C4C is all about treating people equally and believes strongly in social justice. They have a positive impact on the community.” – Eugene Bedeley

Harry Baumert, Volunteer

“There’s always something to learn. The bicycles donated are often diamonds in the rough… Working on old bicycles has taught me patience and that anything can happen when you start turning a wrench on an old bicycle. The ones we rehab here are solid bikes, but in the process of overhauling them, you have to take a lot of care.” – Harry Baumert

Nancy Gildin, Learn to Ride Student

“C4C is the most egalitarian [nonprofit] in that there aren’t income requirements, age requirements, locations requirements. There’s no requirements to participate. In some nonprofits you get a sense that it’s a “we/them” world where “we” and “them” have to qualify. Sometimes it’s not bad. But C4C does not have that, the feeling that it’s just for certain people. It’s for everyone.” – Nancy Gildin

Rebeca Meyen, Earn-a-Bike Participant

“I have lived in Minnesota for about eight years, but want to get to know the cities better because it’s such an amazing area. I can’t really see it when I’m driving. Biking makes it a more personal experience. When something on your commute peaks your interest you can slow down and check it out. You can’t do that in a car. You can’t just stop quick to chat with people as you pass.” – Rebeca Meyen

Mai Her, Youth Apprentice

“You come into Cycles for Change with your bike wanting to fix your handlebars. You wait for a stand, you get a stand. You expect the staff to fix it for you, pay them, walk in, walk out. But instead, they let you do it and are there to help guide you through the process. It’s fun. And it’s free.” – Mai Her

Krista Wax, Learn to Ride Student

“We all cheered each other on as we kept improving. While we did our bike ride on the road, I was practicing my hand signaling and two of [my classmates] cheered for me and told me what a great job I was doing.” – Krista Wax

Julia Wells, Board Member

“C4C definitely taught me how to bike for transportation. I was going to C4C in the morning and my paid job at noon… I’d learn how to bike in traffic, signal, hold the lane, and everything that’s not intuitive about biking. I had the chance to learn actual street biking from going to and from C4C meetings.” – Julia Wells