3 minutes reading time (598 words)

Featured Volunteer: Connor Monahan

Connor is a junior at Bethesda Chevy Chase (B-CC) who reached out to us during the height of the pandemic. He had been tinkering with bikes in the garage when he came across Bikes for the World and loved what we did. It was spring 2021, things were starting to get back to normal, but not really. Still Connor was ready to bust out of the garage.

He sat down and wrote an email and was ready to get started, today! We were immediately impressed.

I read your whole website up and down and I'm in love with your organization and your message. I've always loved bicycles so I'm awful excited to play a part in what you guys do.

Connor Monahan

How can you say no to that? He didn't stop there, Connor went on to describe his experience, which was extensive and covered things like niche repairs and rebuilding bottom brackets, hubs, and headsets. Connor is the next generation coaxing along our old unsupported technology. He taught himself by watching videos on YouTube. He figured out solutions when he couldn't find a specialty tool to fit a long forgotten part. Heck, when parts were in short supply he even 3D printed a pair of vintage pedals he wanted for a bike he was building (they broke right away, but he tried)!

With passion like that, Connor quickly became a fixture in the shop. Mostly we had him stripping parts off frames but occasionally we'd throw him in a container to help load too. But when Connor came to us, he was also looking for a job. He recently turned 16, but couldn't catch a break on an interview. Taylor saw his potential, put in a call, and soon Connor found a spot with Trek Bicycles, close to our warehouse. 

Summer was unfolding and the bike industry was hopping. Connor took on more hours at Trek and we saw him less at the warehouse, but he still made time to drop in at least one or twice a week. This is simply a wild guess but we suspect the tune ups he was performing on bikes at Trek might have been on bikes made this century.

Connor's enthusiasm for bikes grew from restoring vintage bicycles...those bikes made LAST century. The ones that got the older BfW supporters through the 70s gas crisis. You know who you are, and you know the bikes we mean. Those bikes we often pry from donors' hands as they recount riding them across campus 'back in the day' or to some protest event. When those old Raleighs and Peugeots roll through the shop, Connor gets that gleam in his eye.

As the bike season transitioned, Connor's lost hours at Trek were our gain. And now our Thursday volunteer nights had picked up. As Covid surged again we revamped our sessions to allow for more volunteers in a more spread out space...this involved training younger folks to strip parts, which requires a bit of supervision. Without even being prompted Connor jumped right in and started mentoring our youngest volunteers on some of the more intricate mechanical tasks.

The shop is now stacked with young mechanics, many from B-CC. Connor is still learning new skills every day but he's equally passing that knowledge on to our volunteer mechanics, young and old. He is a huge asset to our program not only repairing bikes for local refugees but also as a mentor to our volunteers. And if you are one of those vintage bike donors, no worries, it's in good hands.

Freedom Ride
Old Bikes Creating New Opportunities