Zane Freebairn’s fundraiser promotes diversity in the mechanic industry

Freebairn, PBMA create multiple scholarship opportunities for BIPOC

3 months ago by Info Circuit

Rally Cycling mechanic Zane Freebairn has teamed up with the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association (PBMA) for a unique and impactful fundraiser. Zane, who has used his time away from wrenching at bike races to learn the art of blacksmithing, committed to forging 50 knives for 50 donations to a new scholarship fund for BIPOC in the bicycle mechanic industry. Zane’s knives sold out fast but the fund continues to grow – over $8000 thus far, enough to send three people to school – and there are tons of great prizes from partners like Park Tool for people who contribute.

Your donation will be used directly by the PBMA to assist a person or persons from the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color community to attend a UBI training, this will include, airfare, lodging, meals, and tuition.

Rally Cycling has donated to the fund and encourages everyone to read Zane’s letter on why he put this idea together and visit the PBMA page to support this amazing cause.

Zane penned this letter to help describe to people his motivation behind the fundraiser:

Dear Rally Cycling fans,

My name is Zane Free and I am a humble bicycle mechanic.

I have had so many opportunities in my career. The first was Ken Wood giving a BMX rat a job at the shop he was running in Sandy, Utah. Next was being near the Specialized Bicycle Components Customer Service Center, where I was exposed to a higher level of the sport and industry. After leaving The Big “S” I had another opportunity laid before me in the form of a sprinter van and a toolbox (oh, and two bike racers) with the Vanderkitten Cyclocross team and my first Professional Race Mechanic position. Going to races you meet a lot of people and this tangled web eventually landed me as a guest mechanic for the great team Optum (currently Rally Cycling) which is where I still work. These were all great opportunities, some lucky, but all required the guts to follow them and the hard work that comes after.

When this pandemic was going full gas and our season was put on hold I came back from Europe to hunker down with my family and weather the proverbial storm. During this time I built a forge in our backyard and tried my hand in knife making, something I had always wondered if I could do but never followed through with. Here I was with another great opportunity, provided by my family and my team Rally Cycling, who made the decision to keep all riders and staff on at normal pay during this, which not all teams were willing and/or able to do.

In my professional career, nothing has been given to me. The only obstacle that was in my way was myself. This is where lots of people’s paths differ from mine. There are people in this world that have guts, determination, skill, intelligence – any and all the things required to be successful in this world – but they differ in one way from me – …they aren’t a white male. Something that baffles me to no end. This is something that took me a long time to even recognize because that train of thought had never existed in my life. When George Floyd was killed a spark was lit. I was upset, reading the stories, hearing all the voices of pain that this incident amplified.

I used my knife making to channel this – hitting hot metal has a great way to clear the mind. That’s when the idea came. I would make knives, sell these knives, and give the money to someone who was not given the simple luxury of being treated equally. Admittedly logistics have never been my strong suit so I reached out to James Stanfill (President of the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association aka PBMA) and we came up with a plan. I would make 50 knives and, combined with other items, these would get sold to raise money to send someone who has been swimming upstream their whole life to United Bicycle Institute, a North American Technical School specializing in all things bicycle.

Our profession is about rebuilding, creating, and problem-solving. Whether it be fixing a $12,000 superbike or an entry-level road bike or even changing out the rear tires on our brother and sisters’ bikes because they had a skid competition in front of the house. We bring people together, get people to work, and help people achieve a happier and healthier life. There is no place for racism in this world.

My name is Zane Free and I am a Professional Bicycle Mechanic.

(For an unfiltered look at Zane’s backyard forge, and blistered hands, visit his Instagram profile)