Back to the SRP News

People of Stanford Research Park: Jake Lopacinski

by SRP on September 19, 2023
Get to Know Jake Lopacinski, For the Love of the Ride

General Manager, Mike’s Bikes at Stanford Research Park

When Jake Lopacinski was two, he got his first bike. With training wheels, of course. Like any good two year old, Jake had opinions. So the story goes, he was furious that he had to ride a bike with training wheels. He was certain he should be riding bikes like the big kids did, with just two wheels. Apparently his insistence wore his mom down, and within two weeks the training wheels were gone. And little Jake had learned how to ride a proper bicycle, just like the big kids. So started his love affair with anything on two wheels.

Jake was born in Southern California. In kindergarten, he moved with his mom and her new husband to Vermont. While leaving home was a challenge, he was given enormous freedom to run around this new, outdoorsy state. He participated in any and all sports he could across the seasons. He’d play outside with the neighborhood kids, exploring the forest alongside the squirrels, rabbits, foxes, and all the other creatures who shared the land. And he would ride his bike. A lot.

He credits his stepdad for elevating his interests in cycling. Jake found himself captivated with his stepdad’s Raleigh racing bike. Unlike his kid’s bike, this one had handlebars that turned down—something he saw as eminently cool. So much so that, one day, he rode up to the top of a giant hill, turned his regular handlebars down, and took off as fast as he could down the hill. Well, it turns out that one cannot control a bike when its handle bars have been dislocated. Shortly after, Jake and his parents were at the local hospital, where a doctor had to tend to some not-pretty wounds. But he was undeterred.

In high school, he would hop off the school bus miles short of his house to hang out at the local bike shop and pepper the owner with questions about bikes and observe him in action. Until one day, the owner got sick of this kid just hanging around, so he handed Jake a broom and told him to get to work. Hours later, he had so thoroughly cleaned the floors that the owner hired him on the spot.

After high school, Jake moved back to California and explored a few different career paths. But bikes just kept calling. He had an interest in engineering, and repairing and fitting bikes offered a marriage of his fascination with the mechanics of bikes and his passion for cycling.

To Jake, his job at Mike’s Bikes at Stanford Research Park is so much more than a job. He knows well the cathartic and meditative power of cycling. He knows it’s an escape, exercise, and an investment in vitality and wellbeing. He fixes bikes expertly—and he also sees himself as part of people’s larger effort to take care of themselves, which he finds deeply rewarding. He is trained to fit a bike to its rider to reduce pain and discomfort and amplify cycling’s health benefits and that heady endorphin rush. Next time you take your bike in for a tune-up at The Hub’s Mike’s Bikes, ask Jake to fit your bike to you—he can almost guarantee it’ll allow you to take your cycling to the next level.

We’re excited for you to get to know Jake Lopacinski, yet another person who makes Stanford Research Park a unique and special place.

Jake Lopacinski leading a Tech Tuesday hands-on bike maintenance session at The Hub in the Stanford Research Park.
What is one of your most gratifying work experiences?

When I started working at Mike’s Bikes, I discovered bike fit, which is the next step a bike mechanic or salesperson can take in building skills. It’s doctor-led training on how to assess a person’s body and biometrically fit the bike to them. Doing this training has given me some of my most gratifying work experiences.

For example, a customer came in and was telling me that he used to ride every day and do century rides regularly. But as he aged, his knee began bothering him, to the point that he had to stop riding. The bike, he said, was damaging his body. He explained that he’d gained all this weight as a result. There are a lot of things that can quickly go downhill when we lose that thing that is our exercise and joy all in one. I suggested to him that we do a bike fitting. Within a year, he was back to riding every day and doing century rides. He regained his physical and mental health. His entire demeanor changed. He’d come into the store after rides excited and in a great mood.

This is not a unique thing in my work. We see this kind of transformation through cycling on almost a daily basis. It’s these experiences that make me think I would do this work for free. It feeds the feeling that what I’m doing matters.

I rank being part of these experiences and watching people successfully set and meet goals as among my accomplishments. Being a positive force in people’s lives is huge. It’s my favorite thing about my work.

Jake Lopacinski, General Manager, Mike’s Bikes at Stanford Research Park

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I've got so many stories of people who tried several fitness programs that just didn’t work for them. Then they started riding a bike regularly and met all of their fitness goals. A while back, a young woman came in to buy a bike to do the AIDS/LifeCycle ride, a seven-day, 545-mile fundraising ride. It was so impressive—she wasn’t a cyclist, but she was set on achieving this extreme goal. The bike she’d been using was just torturing her with pain. She was crying to me as she explained how defeated she’d felt from the training process. So I worked with her to buy the right bike and then fit it to her. She pulled it off and completed the ride.

I rank being part of these experiences and watching people successfully set and meet goals as among my accomplishments. Being a positive force in people’s lives is huge. It’s my favorite thing about my work.

What city do you consider your hometown?

I was born in California, but Holland, Vermont is really my hometown. It’s where I grew up. It’s where I learned how to do everything in life. Holland is this little town right on the border of Canada. There’s just one paved road through Holland, the rest are dirt roads. It’s a community of small farmers. Back in the day, you could log and sell your lumber and live off the land that way.

What was your first paying job?

The thing about growing up in Vermont, from the age that you can walk and talk, you're going to be on the local farms doing work. During harvest season, pretty much everyone in the community comes together to help out and trade services and crops or earn a little money. So as a kid, if you wanted something new, you’d have to go earn it. From a really young age, I was a farm hand for several people in town and would pick up rocks, milk cows, throw hay bales, whatever was needed. Working at the bike shop in high school was my first official paid job, but I worked on all kinds of farms long before that.

What is your favorite day-off activity or destination?

Maybe no surprise, but I spend most of my spare time working on my bike or going on rides. My favorite rides are off-roading mountain trails. There’s a place called the Soquel Demonstration State Forest in Santa Cruz. It has a particular trail called the Flow Trail. It’s just Zen. It's not particularly difficult to ride. It's very nicely maintained, with smooth, banked corners. But if you let your brakes go and go down at full speed, it's like a rollercoaster. If they put a chairlift on that trail so people could do laps on it, that's all I would ever do.


Something for
Every Interest

Sign up for the newsletters that pique your interest and fit your needs.

Select The Newsletters You would like to Subscribe to