Matt has 13 years of experience providing direct service to homeless and at-risk youth, including 10 years providing direct street outreach. He developed the concept for Full Cycle while building bikes with youth during overnight shifts at a shelter where he worked, and started the program in 2002. Matt loves all types of cycling, but his BMX roots have given him an undeniable love for dirt jumping (he just wears a lot more pads than he used to). Matt considers himself lucky to have been able to combine his love of cycling with his passion for youth work to create a pretty amazing job that he’s proud of. And if you bring him chocolate, he will be your friend.
Rita Van Allen
Originally from Eugene, Oregon, Rita started biking the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul year-round in 2002, car-less and content. She came to Full Cycle in 2010 with a youth worker background and a practical (stubborn) opinion that if her bike breaks she wants to be able to fix it herself. In her current role as Youth Services Manager, she makes sure all of our programming is accessible and relevant to the young people that walk through our doors. She has come to believe that bikes are more than a means of transportation for herself and the young people at the shop, and now embraces a wide range of styles which could even include full suspension, kick stands, derailleurs, fixed gears, rust, fenders, and wide tires. Look out curbs and trails of Minneapolis, she recently mastered the Bunny Hop.
Essie came to Full Cycle as our Phase I Internship Instructor, after teaching bike mechanics and adult Learn to Ride classes in the Twin Cities (and briefly in Berlin) since 2011. Growing up in rural Maine, biking became Essie’s ticket to personal freedom when a friend gave her their old mountain bike — a way to get to work, to school, and to friends’ houses, and all the while getting to appreciate the great outdoors. She is passionate about bikes as a way both to gain independence and to be more connected to the people and environment we live with.
Since she received her first tool box as a kid, Valerie has loved to tinker. From old bikes to household appliances, she’d put a wrench or a screwdriver to it — sometimes just to discover what was inside. It is the beauty of learning how something we depend on works and the deep satisfaction of fixing what may be broken that fuels her work as a bike mechanic.
As a young adult, she began to depend on a bicycle as her primary means of transportation, and in her mind she knew she’d have to know everything about that bike, so she took it apart and put it back together again. After successfully working with her own bikes, she took that confidence and offered help to others by volunteering at free bike workshops. Quickly she learned that she loved helping people understand and work on their own bikes, and it was then that she decided to elevate what began as a hobby into a career.
Today, she applies her knowledge and years of experience as a bike mechanic in her new city with humility and a never-ending interest in discovering how life works.
Adam comes to Full Cycle with background in Youth Work and Bike Shops. Prior to Full Cycle he worked as the Youth Education Specialist at the Boise Bicycle Project in Boise, Idaho and as a Site Director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis. Adam has had a passion for bikes since receiving his first bike as a child and remembers on multiple occasions spray painting and "fixing" bikes that his uncle brought home from the city dump. Any place he has lived or visited he has found that the best way to experience the city is on a bike, riding through the alley-ways and backstreets; he also recently re-discovered using bikes as more than just a way to get around, taking up Flatland BMX and riding as many wheelies as possible. He is excited to bring his passion for bikes and youth work to his new position as Youth Outreach Worker.
When Tyler was sixteen years old, his family stuck a sticker on his helmet that read "CRASH". He had a history of crashing snowmobiles, four-wheelers, three-wheelers, dirt bikes, his 1st car, his 2nd car, his 3rd car, and of course bicycles. Growing up, biking was the primary way for Tyler to get around, often hanging at the skatepark and spending time with friends. When he moved to the cities and got connected with Full Cycle, biking and mechanics quickly became more than just a hobby. Working at a homeless shelter, he became known as the "bike guy" not because he knew a lot about bikes, but because he had a passion for them and was always willing to put aside time, to lend a hand or a tool. Often times, the repairs were quick and dirty, working with parts that were lying around or stripping other bikes. The priority was not to build the nicest or most beautiful bike; but rather to get folks on wheels, make people smile, and build community. Tyler comes to Full Cycle with a social service background and his passion for cycling in all of its forms, including: mountain biking, touring, and bike-packing. He is excited to combine his dedication to youth outreach with his love for biking.