Pedal it forward: One act of kindness grows into 400-plus bike giveaways

Home » Pedal it forward: One act of kindness grows into 400-plus bike giveaways

OKOTOKS, Alta. – When Todd Martin donated one of his son’s old bikes to a neighbourhood kid who didn’t have one, little did he know what that small act of kindness would amount to.

Three years later, he has repaired in his well-equipped garage and donated more than 400 bikes to hundreds of neighbours and strangers around Okotoks, a small town about 20 minutes south of Calgary.

Martin, a 51-year-old environmental specialist for an oil and gas company, developed his passion for cycling years ago while serving in the military as a mechanic. He gets enjoyment out of tinkering, and now he wants to teach his son, Finn, “about giving stuff.”

His generosity has benefitted not just kids. People of all ages are riding bikes that Martin has repaired and/or given to them. Martin’s hobby quickly grew into a bustling program called ReCycle Okotoks, and then Pedal It Forward: Repair Café.

Todd Martin Okotoks ReCycle
Todd Martin has adapted to Covid and now works out of his tidy garage or basement, fixing and tuning up bikes to give away.

When COVID-19 “threw a wrench” into his enterprise, he adapted to the need for physical distancing. His garage is marked with tape lines to keep frequent drop-in visitors at a safe distance.

Martin is the type of guy everyone knows: waving and saying “hello” to nearly everyone who walks by his house. People know how to find him to get a new-used bike or have one repaired, mainly now through word of mouth or through his Facebook Page.

Want to learn more about our Canada ConnecTour ride this summer? Register and learn more here.

Originally from a small town near St. John’s NL, Martin says he comes by his love of chatting with people honestly. “My grandmother used to say I could talk the arse off of a castiron kettle.” He and his wife of 13 years, Sharon, had known each other since they were 11. They got together after being reunited at a 20th anniversary high school reunion.

The couple came to Calgary on a military transfer, and when Martin retired from service he decided to go back to school. And that’s when the biking bug bit him again.

Todd Martin commuting
A few years ago, Todd could say that he’d ridden his bike every day for six years.

He bought a new bike, started commuting to work at his new job in downtown Calgary. In 2008, he completed the 24 Hours of Adrenalin ride. Martin is also committed to the annual Wounded Warriors Battlefield Bike Ride, which raises funds to help first responders and veterans who struggle with PTSD.

In 2018 he signed on for the ride in Yugoslavia, a place with emotional attachment since he had served in the Balkans. In 2019, he rode for the cause in Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, raising $19,000.

Even with COVID, Martin is finding himself busier than ever and has also been teaching people how to repair and tune bikes through Zoom sessions.  He’s even been known to go into local schools to teach kids (on stationary bikes) the mental and physical benefits of bike riding.  It’s not unusual for Martin to get  a Facebook message that makes it all worthwhile, like this one:

“We love our bikes Todd, we went for our first bike ride today. I hadn’t been on a bike since I was 12 so long ago. Big THANK YOU for fixing them up to be safe with some paint too, you are Awesome”

His Facebook tagline explains his pedal-it-forward philosophy: “RePair, ReUse, ReCycle! A boy & his dad (that bike guy) fixing bikes to give to kids. No charge. Why? Why not?”

Says Martin: “Every kid in the neighbourhood has a bike from me.”

Want to learn more about our Canada ConnecTour ride this summer? Register and learn more here.

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