LINCOLN — The name Brody Steffen might jog the memories of a few Cedar County citizens. If anyone gets a chance to mosey on down to Lincoln and check out its local bike sharing program, it’s worth remembering Steffen’s the one who keeps it running.
Some folks in Hartington, especially those from the Cedar Catholic High School class of 2007, might remember Steffen as the kid who dabbled in just about any activity that looked fun.
He was a basketball player his freshman year, played baseball until his junior year, and football all four years and golfed until his senior year. In his spare time, he helped coach little league soccer, got involved in the one-act play and played on a national paintball team based out of Vermillion, S.D.
But, according to Steffen himself, he always had something inside of him aching to go ride a bike.
“My older brother introduced me to mountain biking when I was 13,” Steffen said. “I kind of got the bug then, but fell out of it during high school.”
That bug never really left him, and the summer after he graduated he moved to Lincoln and lived with his older brother until starting school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
There, he learned a thing or two about bike maintenance.
“He taught me the basics of working on bikes that summer,” Steffen said. “I enjoyed it, but didn’t realize the monster he had created yet at that point.”
Steffen went on to do two years in UNL’s pre-chiropractic program before deciding it wasn’t for him.
After dropping out, he took a job building bikes at Cycle Works, a local bike shop in Lincoln, to pay the bills while he took classes at Southeast Community College. After taking on too much student debt without any signs of progress, he left school again and jumped head first into the bike industry.
“I was living right up the block from the shop and I knew the basics of bike maintenance already and thought working in an outdoor shop sounded cool,” Steffen said.
After getting one year at Cycle Works under his belt, another bike shop, The Bike Rack, offered Steffen a full-time job as a bike mechanic. He worked there for two seasons before returning to Cycle Works, this time as the shop’s lead bike mechanic. He still works there every now and then, returning when he’s needed to help out at the place where he got his start.
“For me cycle works just carried an attitude more similar to my own,” he said. “I occasionally build some bikes for them and I’m available for them to call if someone is going to be gone and they need someone to fill in.”
Now Steffen works as the lead technician at BikeLNK, the Lincoln branch of bike-sharing nonprofit Heartland Bike Share. He oversees the day-to-day operations of BikeLNK, building and repairing the bikes as needed.
“I realized it was the chance to start something new in a mid-sized city that has been steadily developing and nurturing a strong cycling community. I wanted to be involved in that process,” Steffen said.
Today, Steffen sees himself as working at BikeLNK for the forseeable future. He is also planning on launching a small, mobile bike shop of his own to make a little extra dough on the side.
“I was the kind of kid that tore things apart to see how they worked,” Steffen said. “I love what I do and the people I work with, so I’m not actively trying to do anything else full time,” he said.