Seven questions with Bob Matter

Cyclist, owner of A New Spin Bike Recyclery, Arvada resident

Posted 10/24/17

How did you get into bikes?

I have been a lifelong bike rider, exploring the world on my bike. To me, every time I get on a bike, I go back to being 10 years old and being out until the street lights come on. It’s s right of passage that so …

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Seven questions with Bob Matter

Cyclist, owner of A New Spin Bike Recyclery, Arvada resident

Posted

How did you get into bikes?

I have been a lifelong bike rider, exploring the world on my bike. To me, every time I get on a bike, I go back to being 10 years old and being out until the street lights come on. It’s s right of passage that so many people have and so many people don’t have the opportunity to be part of. I tend to be a handy guy, so opening a shop allows me to do a lot of different things.

People have so many emotions that go with their bikes and it’s humbling to listen to their stories when hey donate their bike and promise they will go to a good home.

A New Spin Bike Recyclery opened on Earth Day this year. What do you do?

We refurbish donated bikes and we also sell new parts and accessories. But we use refurbishing bikes as a means to teach jobs skills to low income kids as well as people with disabilities.

And you’re a nonprofit. What are the challenges?

We started out doing bike programs. Our original organization mission was doing bike programs for people with disabilities and their families. We did balance bike camps, clinics, day trips, overnight trips and eventually tours. After doing that for 10 years, we were looking at ways to expand our mission and hopefully create a social enterprise to help us be sustainable. We saw a need in the community and need personally for my oldest son, David. The idea of starting a bike shop that actually teaches job skills to people who wouldn’t normally be able to do that emerged. The biggest challenges with being a nonprofit is that you don’t have the for profit cash flow and you can’t take out loans to build infrastructure. So, we’re reliant on the community to be able to get the things that we need. For example, some of the biggest needs right now are a storage container for our excess bikes and a place to store it, and storage racks for the shop. But on top of that, we need people. People to help work on bikes, people to help teach job skills, to help wait on customers. Really it doesn’t matter if you know how to work on bikes or not— we’ve got a space for people to help out.

One of your missions is to expand possibilities for people with developmental or intellectual disabilities. Why is that important?

Currently it is, but as we grow, it will be open to everybody. It doesn’t matter if they have a developmental or intellectual disability. The whole concept is creating an inclusive community where everything is going on at the same time. I think it’s important that as a society we have a truly inclusive society. All of these invisible populations, whether it be people of ethnicity, people with less money or people with disabilities … they all go under the radar and can fall through the cracks. I see that as my oldest son gets older. I see him slipping through the cracks and it’s not OK. Not from my perspective as a dad, and not from my perspective as a person in this community. It’s important serving this population because there aren’t a lot of services for them. And there are even fewer expectations for them to do anything functional in society.

You also cater to low-income. Why? What outreaches/partnerships do you have?

Right now, the reason we work with at-risk youth is because again it’s an underserved population, just like the disabled community. If we can empower people to be able to go earn a living whether that’s through someone coming in and learning skills, how to run a business or on the other side of the coin, we’ve had homeless people who are restarting jobs and need a basic form of transportation come in and we help them out. It’s helping that invisible community that we don’t tend to see it day in and day out because we turn an eye to it. So that’s why we’re here and to me it’s important because for a small amount of investment in time and energy, you get a whirlwind back.

We work with Lake Arbor Optimist and their bike recycle program. I buy parts for them because as a shop, I can. So I save them money for doing their outreach. I just approached Arvada High School about doing some bike programs. I have Jeffco Open Space coming in and hope to do bike stuff with them. The plan is to expand that and collaborate with as many places as possible. I’m actually looking for a church to partner with for a bike giveaway, but not in the traditional sense. So often people come in and you give them a bike, but when their bike brakes down, they have no idea what to do. So what I’m trying to do is find a church who will sponsor us. We’d take our bikes and set up spot where kids will come in and pick their bikes and then go to work stations where they learn how to repair them. That way they’re empowered to fix flat tires, brakes, those type of things.

What kind of activities/programs do you offer for the general population?

We will be starting to offer mechanic classes in early 2018. Right now, the storage space issue makes it so that we can’t do that yet. I want to do maintenance classes, movie nights and fun thing where people can come in here, hang out and feel like part of a community. Everything that we have going on will be at the same time. It won’t be that the disabled guys are in here from 8-12 and then the low income kids come in. No. We’re all here together.

How has the community reacted to your mission? And how do they get involved?

The response has been amazing. All of these bikes have come through individual donations. In almost six months we got 240 bikes donated. I think the community outreach and reaction has been more than we’ve hoped for. Or maybe what we hoped for, but didn’t expect. We’ve purposefully been flying under the radar simply because we need hands in here. I want to stay true to the mission versus trying to collect as much money as we can.

This isn’t about me. It isn’t even about David. If it was about David and I, we’d be doing this out of our garage. This is about everybody else that’s coming in the store. And I think what I want people to understand is that it truly takes a community to raise a nonprofit. We have had fantastic support in the community. But we also want the community to know we’re here. We’re here to serve a community need and we welcome anyone who wants to come in and help.

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