By Ria Daugherty
The COVID-19 pandemic has been detrimental to our health. With many restaurants and hospitality services being hit hard, COVID-19 has left many people at home for the last 14 months. The pandemic left us living more on the couch eating than enjoying the splendid Michigan outdoors. Jay, at A2 Cycle of Success, wants to get us outside in the Ann Arbor area.
Jay is a 31-year-old bicycle technician living with disabilities. He is a proud father of a brilliant 18-month old boy. Jay struggles with Autism and debilitating PTSD brought on by an assault in 2018.
The assault led Jay and his wife to become chronically homeless for almost two years. There was also a year when Jay was homeless on his own, living in a teardrop camper at Journey of Faith Christian Church. As his marriage was coming to an end, Jay struggled with what to do with his life.
Early into the COVID-19 pandemic, Jay took camping trips to gather his thoughts as he contemplated the meaning of his life. On one such adventure in June 2020, Jay traveled south for a month where he met his best friend, an abandoned puppy in Mississippi. He named the puppy Copper, and the Mississippi Mutt became his emotional support animal.
A2 Cycle of Success sprang from a series of encounters.
“Kevin Spangler, the owner of Ann Arbor’s Boober Tours, asked if I have ever given it a thought,” said Jay. “While trying to overcome agoraphobia and exploring the city on my e-bike, I ran into a Boober Tours pedicab driver and started a conversation. Eventually, I met up with Kevin and we hit it off, so I started working alongside Kevin by repairing his pedicabs. In passing conversation, we began shooting the shit about how I would like to have a bike shop.
After giving it some thought, I realized that I need to get my capital, emotional and cognitive resources in order. The kick in the ass for me was watching the Discovery Channel’s Undercover Billionaires. In the episode, someone said, ‘work with what you have.’ I had a bike, a toolset, a skill and a space in which I could work my passion.”
Jay is located in the lower level of Journey of Faith Christian Church, 1900 Manchester Rd., just off of Washtenaw Ave in Ann Arbor. Through volunteering with Rose Marcum-Raugh (Homeless Coordinator) at New Beginnings Homeless Ministry (also located in the lower level of the Church), it came to the church’s attention that Jay had been dreaming about having his own bike shop.
“A2 Cycle of Success started because I found myself housed and in a better position to serve the community, said Jay. “Immediately after the assault, I developed severe PTSD symptoms that made driving a terrifying ordeal; I felt that my actions and the actions of those around me were not safe. It was when I received a traffic citation that I decided it felt safer to travel by bike. I turned the mountain bike I already had into an e-bike to feel safer and more in control. Now I’m in a position to help fill the need for obtaining and servicing other’s bicycles. I have been enjoying the adventure because it is giving me a sense of purpose.
I plan to help the community by providing a service in a comfortable environment; I am a no-pressure salesperson … helping the community. During my travels, I have seen an extensive array of mechanically dysfunctional bikes that homeless people of Ann Arbor use. I want to provide lower-cost service to these individuals than the other local bike shops.
There is a wide variety of people between those who can pay and those who cannot, and I have the discretion to fill that void or need. Mildly disenfranchised people such as single mothers/fathers, low-income students, people with two or more jobs with no reliable transportation, or even those who don’t qualify for food stamps (SNAP benefits) but should.
When I refurbish a bike and have it appraised by a local online community forum, an interview with the applicant and an assessment is performed. A decision gets made on the final price. When a bike gets sold at market value, its profit lowers the cost of a bike or service for a low/no income person.
With the help of my friends and the CARES Act stimulus checks, I was able to get my car in running order and purchase two bike repair stands and the first batch of specialty tools. The vehicle allows me to make deliveries and pick up donations in the Ann Arbor area, and the tools got me started. I have received two dozen bikes donated since December; I have managed to sell a few. The rest of the bikes are designated to be the reduced-cost refurbished bicycles. I will improve these bikes by selling more bikes and performing repairs on customers’ bikes that come through the shop. In fact, I have just ordered a slew of chains and cables to finish refurbishing the remainder of bikes, just in time for late spring.
A2 Cycle of Success wants to encourage and stimulate people to get out and ride this season, but we need your help. We are looking for every kind of bike, from rusted to riches, cruisers to classic, tandems to trikes, children’s and recumbent bikes. With the help of several donations to my GoFundMe account, we have been able to buy more tools and supplies to breathe new life into any donations we receive or can find,” said Jay.
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Please call to schedule an appointment at (734) 704-7707