Ramirez has always been mechanically-minded. Tinkering on cars or whatever he could get his hands on, he enjoyed taking things apart, fixing things and working with his hands. Ramirez came to Higher Gear in the part of his life he refers to as “indentured servitude,” which began in 2010 when he had to “work off” damage for bike that he borrowed. He quickly fell in love with working on bikes.
And Ramirez quickly fell in love with working in bike shops. There, Ramirez found a safe place and a home. “To me the bike shop is just a fun place to work. It’s always been a safe place. At a bike shop, the mechanics, the employees and managers are all like-minded; everyone shares a similar passion. You always fit in.”
After a year in the industry, Ramirez took up cyclocross racing, quickly working his way up to a Cat 2 competitor. Since joining Higher Gear in 2016, he hasn’t had much time to race his Specialized Cruz, however. “Only riding one or two days a week, I’ve gotten so much slower that it’s frustrating. I really miss riding.”
Ramirez wasn’t being lazy. In fact, he’s been busy balancing his part-time work at Higher Gear with a full-time education. Now, with an associates degree in his pocket, Ramirez heads to Loyola University – Chicago in January to complete his Business Degree with an emphasis on Marketing, which he is “very excited” about.
In heading to Loyola – Chicago, Ramirez follows in the footsteps of not only his mother, but also of Higher Gear’s own Todd Ricketts, Brendan Sullivan and Beccy Sullivan (and soon to be followed by Katie Sullivan, perhaps). It’s no surprise to Gearheads to learn that two of our owners met while attending Higher Gear for their Business Degrees. When asked whether Ramirez would use his relationship with the former alumni to get in with his professors, he jokes, “Maybe Todd; from the stories I’ve heard he was much better behaved at Loyola!”
After his joke, Ramirez confesses that Sullivan has been a mentor to him during his past couple years at Higher Gear. “Brendan definitely sat down with me and helped me form a goal, something I had never had before. He’s been a role model – and yes, I know that sounds cheesy – but he really enjoys what he does and has a lot of fun working.”
Ramirez continues: “I never had anyone talk to me about a business degree. From Brendan, I’ve learned a lot about running a business, how to carry yourself and what to say. Brendan knows so much: you learn something every single time he talks to you.”
To say that Sullivan has been impressed with Ramirez is an understatement. During his two years at Higher Gear, Ryan studied and became a Specialized BG Fit Specialist, becoming our resident expert on bike fits. Ramirez helped our customers eliminate pain while maximizing their efforts and comfort on the bike.
As for his future, Ramirez is “taking things one step at a time,” knowing “everything will fall in place.” He is focused on competing his Bachelors Degree in the next two years. As for working, Ramires says, “Oh, I’ll definitely be working while going to school.” While he loves bicycles, “That’s been the whole reason I’ve been working in bike shops since I turned sixteen,” he says that going forward he may just “keep [cycling] exclusively as a hobby.”
As Ramirez looks towards the vast horizon of his future, stepping towards a journey we can all relate to, we at Higher Gear wish to thank him and wish him the very best.