The early years and my first bike
My first memorable Christmas gift was a Trek 820 mountain bike that I received when I was ten. It was perhaps a stroke of luck that the fantastic bike lasted through my childhood as I rode it everywhere, including through the glacial valleys of Grant County, Wisconsin. (I would often drag my bike thru the wooded hills and ride thru the trees and around massive boulders as singletrack wasn't yet a “thing.”)
The next major milestones in my life were when I got my driver's license, I went off to college, and I started working. I would on occasion stop into bike shops and marvel at the disc brakes and geometry changes on new bicycles wondering how I could ever afford such an indulgence. It was a ten-year span during this point in my life when I didn’t own a personal bike. But then a friend took me on an adventure run and this opened my eyes to singletrack. Instantly, I was hooked.
Bike ownership for me (revisited)
I re-entered the world of bike ownership and bought an affordable 90s-era Scott Racing mountain bike. I spent every available moment exploring new tracks in all four seasons. No, I truly didn’t care when trails were iced over; I went in blind and would randomly wipe out. In fact, I loved the thrill of it. And this was all taking place while my son Liam, born with a congenital defect of the right arm, was beginning to learn to ride his Jeep bike one-handed.
As I continued on my bike journey, I started to notice how effortlessly other riders made it up steep terrain, while I would hop off and have to push. Seeing the other types of (arguably better) bikes that were available, I made the important decision to sell my bike and upgrade. And I did what so many others do: I posted that my bike was for sale. It was not long before someone reached out to purchase my bike for the same amount that I had invested in it. I was amazed at how easy the process was.
The next step in my journey was for me to buy a bike from someone who was the purported “owner” of the Kona bike I had my eye on. I purchased the bike, but for any number of reasons did not enjoy this bike’s suspension. I went back to this same bike seller hoping to get another deal. This transaction with the same individual included me trading this bike in for a Kona hardtail. While I did enjoy this bike more, at the same time I was upset as I felt that I did not get the best bang for my buck.
And how did I channel this dissatisfaction? I bought a plethora of used bikes in the hopes that I would be able to locate my actual "ideal" bike.
Bike ownership for my son
It was during this time Liam, now seven years old, finally had a prosthetic and he was able to do more than just ride a bike one-handed. We experimented and discovered he could, in fact, attempt singletrack with me. This was an enormous milestone and we went to a bike shop to purchase a brand-new red Trek Precaliber 24 eight-speed bike. This was AMAZING, as Liam could ride it! However, this new bike was far inferior to the capabilities of today's offerings, and with my new bike-hunting and -finding skills, I was armed and ready to locate a more suitable replacement bike so that Liam and Dad could ride together.
One more time I went back to the bike shop. I hoped the experts would be able to guide and assist me in the purchase of adaptability components for disabled riders. However, to my dismay, I was led down a path using the “trial and error” approach and no good solution was found.
To make a long story short, Liam had to use what he had. He crashed a lot. I had to fix his bike a lot myself. We ended up finding him a Trek Farley fat tire bike that could be stabilized. (A shout out to Adam, now manager at Wheel and Sprocket in Middleton, Wisconsin, who performed upgrades for Liam.) We tricked it out with an electronic Di2 shifting system so that he could actually shift left-handed (this worked!) and installed Hero left-handed hydraulic brakes to enable him to have superior control (this also worked!).
Today he is riding a Trek X-Caliber 9 with 27.5" wheels and the electronic Di2 system. In short, he very successfully rides this bike. And at the same time, we have several other bikes in various states of build so he can safely experience and explore gravel and road riding.
The start of my bike-selling business
It was because of Liam’s needs and my own enthusiasm that I started selling bikes. I have strong values, and as part of my business practices I am always truthful and disclose that the bikes I sell are not my personal bikes. I offer a trade-in program and offer a warranty for the buyer’s protection. I firmly stand behind any unintentional mistakes that may take place, and I always “make it right” for people when they are buying a used bike from me.
But I have discovered that not everyone has the same virtues I do. Not everyone is truthful about the history of a bike that is for sale. And thus, there was a strong and clear need for idRIDER.
How idRIDER came to be
There are three things I will share about myself that are relevant to the birth of idRIDER: since my youngest days, I have always looked for ways to improve efficiency. I have a life-long interest in technology. And I'm drawn to projects that have an emphasis on social justice.
So why does this all matter? In the early days of my bike-selling business, I faced, first-hand, the serious issue that plagues people today in every type of community: bike theft. What I then recognized is an opportunity use my skills and to tap into innovative technology to efficiently and effectively solve this large problem within our communities.
More specifically, I recognized that I could find a new way to reunite stolen bikes back with their rightful owners. I worked with law enforcement (as much as they would allow) and actively partnered with my syndicate of cycle enthusiasts to tackle this problem. Collectively we targeted suspect bikes (meaning bikes we thought were stolen), and using a variety of tactics we confronted suspicious sellers and questioned their intentions. And the result? We recovered many high-dollar, stolen used bicycles that were for sale along the Minneapolis to Chicago corridor.
This is my way to give back.
In 2020 alone, I returned approximately a dozen bikes to their rightful owners. It costs money and takes resources to recover bikes; I have covered many of the costs myself, tapping into the profits generated by the bike locker that I operate. Some of the victims who were reunited with their bikes were gracious enough to reimburse me for my costs, and this has made it easier for me to continue doing what I am doing.
And over the years, the desire to start my vision for what has developed into idRIDER gelled and I saved up enough money along with the way. The heart of idRIDER is its powerful app, which is an essential tool and powerful technology that helps others quickly and easily register the bikes that they own.
idRIDER will expand as quickly as possible to register and protect not only bicycles but also human transport devices that are susceptible to theft.
And along the way, I will continue to look to create value for others and find new solutions to problems that have yet to be solved.
Did you know?
In 2019, bicycles were second only to motor vehicles in number of thefts.