(Above: Bike Academy student Carolyn MacDonald)
The second year of the Ottawa Bicycle Academy course at Right Bike is now in its eighth week. The fifteen-week program offers training in bike mechanics and assembly to youth who are working to overcome barriers to employment and start new careers in sports retail. So far the course has covered such required bicycle mechanic skills as how to repair wheels, brakes, drive trains, and shifting. Still to come is full bike assembly and wheel building.
The Ottawa Bicycle Academy has also worked to inspire and instruct students by bringing in guest lecturers from accomplished bike mechanics and bike retailers, Kunstadt Sports and Tall Tree Cycles.
Guest lecturer Brad Kukurdz, a mechanic with twenty-five years of experience, offered this advice: “Think of yourself as working for yourself. You should imagine that [wherever you are working] is your workshop and take pride in that work.”
Eric Kunstadt, the President and co-founder of Ottawa’s Kundstadt Sports, shared the story of how his company started in his parents’ garage in 1988 and went on to employ over fifty people in three locations. Kundstadt told the students, “The first thing is to get the job right. Speed is second. [Your speed as a mechanic] will increase overtime [your speed matched with the quality of your work] will help you keep your job in the industry.”
The Ottawa Bicycle course will conclude with three-week work placements at Ottawa bike retail shops, which are designed to transition trainees directly into employment in time for the cycling season.