The EZ Bike Club started with a group of friends within the local sneaker community. EZ stands for El Zapatero, which is Spanish for “the shoe man.” Founder Randy Mendez says it all began with his love for collecting sneakers and connecting with the local streetwear community in the Twin Cities. Streetwear is inspired by urban culture and hip hop, and edges on athleticism. For that reason, it is common for streetwear to be a functional style for athletes and people who regularly engage in the outdoors.
El Zapatero opened itself up to the public in early June. Mendez says the business venture unfolded naturally after a friend got a bicycle, which he says started a trend. Mendez took up bike rides with his sneaker friends as a way to stay connected and uplifted.
“Another one followed, and another person, and it just kind of became a thing. We do it not just for our physical well being, but also for our mental well being. We definitely want to encourage all races, ethnicities, ages, and skill levels to come out and be a part of these rides.” Says Mendez
Alexander Iverson is Mendez’ business partner at the EZ Bike Club. Iverson says it feels like a full circle moment from when he first met his now business partner on a bike over a decade ago. Iverson says it wasn’t difficult for him to hop on board with this new venture due to his childhood connection to the outdoors.
“I grew up outside. I grew up without being able to have these benefits of cable TV or video games and things like that. So my fun was found outside. I've always enjoyed being outside and being in different environments. It's a blessing. It's a breath of fresh air. So it will be even a greater breath of fresh air to see my community outside with me” says Iverson.
To honor EZ Bike Club’s roots, Mendez and Iverson partner with local minority owned streetwear businesses. The club’s first ride took place on June 28, hosted by Brick by Brick MN, a sneaker consignment store located in St. Paul. Iverson says the Twin Cities has a large “sneakerhead” community that could benefit from sustained community engagement and physical activity.
“We're big on trying to get everybody out to get some physical as well as mental health. When you're with like minded individuals, and you're sharing your stories or what you're working on, you'd be surprised how far that can take you on a bike ride,” said Iverson. “I believe wealth is of the heart and mind. So if we're able to share that together, that'll be a blessing. It'll be great for the community to see people of color riding through the Twin Cities together as a group, smiling, and all different shapes and sizes.” Says Iverson
The club is currently offering weekly community rides. All skills and ages are welcome. To find out more information, visit the club’s website.