Meet the Staff

Sockeye Cycle Staff

The administrative staff, managers, mechanics and guides at Sockeye Cycle are the most resourceful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic people you will meet. We come from a variety of backgrounds; some work summers guiding our day trips and working in the shop, others are long time Alaskan residents that guide our extended tours and work in the office. We have three year round employees and twenty five seasonal employees.

Whether it is tours, rentals, sales or service; at Sockeye Cycle you can expect the highest level of customer service, professionalism and passion for bicycling in our northern environment. Come and meet our team!


Administration

Thom Ely - President

Thom first came to Alaska in 1981 to work for the Young Adult Conservation Corp at False Island near Sitka. He fell in love with the Southeast Alaska environment and returned summers to work as a deck hand on a salmon troller. He moved to Haines in 1987 and bought an existing bike shop in 1988. He continues to bike, hike, paraglide, ski and enjoy the environment of Alaska and the world.

Becky Hill - Office Manager

Becky's love for Southeast Alaska began on a backpacking trip in 1994.  A year later, she sold nearly everything she owned and left the DC area on a 5000 mile road trip to Alaska.  After a couple years of exploring the state, she settled down in Haines where she embraces a relaxing lifestyle full of adventure. Becky has been our office manager since 2010.

Dustin Craney - General Manager

In 2009, Dustin sold everything that didn't fit in his station wagon and drove north to work on bikes in Alaska. Since then, the positive community, beautiful landscape, and endless adventure opportunities have made it home. Dustin and his wife Katie live near Fort Seward in Haines.

Matt Jillson - Tour Manager

Matt has a passion for international bike touring and exploring alpine regions. He's been making Skagway his summer home since 2015. In addition to cycling he enjoys back country skiing. His upbeat nature is sure to get you excited about enjoying life in many ways.

Dillon Smith

Dillon comes to Skagway by way of Missoula, Montana. After his first summer working for Sockeye in 2013 Dillon wanted to return immediately, but took a little time off to marry his longitme girlfriend and to serve as an Agricultural Volunteer for the Peace Corps in The Gambia. Now that his side projects are complete, Dillon is fully commited to leading the best bicycle tours for the best bicycle outfit in all of Alaska! He is also fully commited to being a good husband.

Guides

Lee Close

Lee drove his Tacoma truck from Texas to Alaska in the early 90's. He still has the twang in his voice but his heart is in the North. After many seasons as a fisheries technician his passion for the bike got him a job as a guide for Sockeye Cycle. He spends most of his time in the Yukon with his wife Nicole and dog Keta cutting wood on his lot, cross country skiing and playing disc golf.

Katie Craney

Katie first came to Alaska in 2004 and has worked for the National Park Service in both Gustavus and Skagway AK. In addition to Sockeye Cycle, Katie guides bicycle tours for WomenTours. She balances life in the saddle by creating art, which has been featured in shows around the country.

Brian Kaeter

Brian had his first Alaskan experience working as a salmon processor in Bristol Bay. He traveled around the state when his contract ended and soon realized he had to find a way to get back to Alaska. With a background in bicycle mechanics and a love of all things outdoors, Sockeye was a perfect fit. After his first summer at Sockeye Brian rode his bike from Skagway all the way down to Montana as his girlfriend Taylor was cycling around Ireland. When they both returned to the lower 48, Brian convinced Taylor to go on a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters in Ely, Minnesota. On that fateful trip Brian told Taylor of the wonders of Southeast Alaska. Since then Brian and Taylor have spent their winters cross country skiing as dogsled guides in the Boundary Waters and summers up in Skagway!

Erin Kennedy

Kennedy joins us from the Midwest, but is no stranger to mountains and big open space.  She has been working seasonally for the past couple of years working on trail crews in Arizona, shredding powder in Keystone Colorado, and running bike tours down the Klondike Highway. She has also completed a few long distance big tours around the United States and is looking forward to the next adventure her life brings.

Wesley Cheney

Wesley Cheney has decades of experience leading bike tours, and a lifelong passion for learning. Wesley biked from London to Rome via the Route Napoleon, sailed with the USS Kearsarge to equatorial Africa, earned a Bachelors Degree in Philosophy from Old Dominion University, and completed the final Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200km Brevet. Wesley has built, pedaled, paddled and sailed bamboo bicycles, kayaks and sailboats. He writes a monthly blog on utility cycling and regularly contributes questions to The Thomas Jefferson Hour. He plays the ukulele and the flugelhorn and prefers to wear a kilt.

Sophie DeGroot

Born and raised in the North Cascades, Sophie most recently lived in Boston where she attended school and worked as a bicycle guide. As an avid city and road cyclist, she believes the best way to see any new place is by bicycle - especially Alaska! Besides bicycle touring, she enjoys collecting new passport stamps, talking to strangers, and indulging in baked goods at the end of a long ride. 

Candace Bracken

My love for the outdoors started with getting a Geology degree. Shortly after graduating I got a job guiding on the CO river and that's where I realized I had a passion for showing people what recreating outside could be like. In my opinion, cycling sets the perfect pace for seeing beautiful places. All I want to do for the foreseeable future is guide in as many different settings as possible.

Zabeth Runyan

Zabeth was born in Alaska to sled dog mushing parents. After her travels and moving to a warmer climate, Alaska kept tugging her back. This is her second season embracing the wild beauty of Alaska, from a bicycle, while sharing the ecology and history of Alaska with Sockeye Cycle guests!

Joshua Pederson

I was born in Colorado. While working fire mitigation in Colorado, I would bike when I could. On one of these day trips I took a spill shattering my helmet and breaking my forearm. Since then I have continued biking. I have a passion for traveling and exploring different cultures. I worked as a school bus driver in Sitka Ak last year and am excited to be in motion in Skagway Ak this year.

Forrest Miller

Forrest was born and raised in Maine, where he acquired his passion for the outdoors.  His love for biking and exploring new places brought him to Alaska.  He finds the best way to travel is out of his truck.  In his free time you can find him biking, hiking, backpacking, or skiing. 

Maury Vaughan

Maury is a native of Richmond, Virginia. At the ripe young age of 30, he embarked on a 2 month solo bikepacking adventure that would take him from the Texas panhandle to southern Manitoba to Detroit. Now nearly 40, he is finally realizing a life-long ambition to actually get paid for riding a bike all day. Having spent the past four years teaching English in Mexico, he'll miss his students, but is beyond thrilled for the fresh air and dramatic vistas of Skagway. 

Taylor Hougum-Carr

After a summer of solo bicycle travel and volunteer farm work in Ireland, Taylor was convinced by fellow Sockeye guide, Brian Kaeter, of the freedom and thrill of biking in Alaska. She joined him for a road trip to Skagway the next spring, started a job as deckhand on a passenger ferry, and fell in love Alaska's Inside Passage. Having grown up on the very flat prairie of North Dakota, living in this steep SE Alaska valley taught her what biking uphill is really like and that a bike helmet and a big smile are her favorite accessories. She's returning now for a third summer in Skagway and is living the dream, having made Brian her boyfriend and guiding bicycle tours her job- that's two for two!

Ren Dey

Reigning from Appalachia, in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, I have spent the past decade falling in love with cycling as a way of life. After receiving a degree in history from Western Carolina University, I moved to Asheville where I became a bicycle mechanic and an active member of the cycling community. I have also worked as a mountain bike adventure guide in the grand Pisgah National Forest for the past two summers. I am looking forward to experiencing my first season in Skagway and learning all about the wonders that Alaska has to offer.

Shanon Castle

Shanon comes to Alaska from upstate New York.  Prior to moving up north she guided long distance bicycle tours and probably spent about 1/3 of last year sleeping in a tent as a result. She's ridden her bike across the lower 48 a total of 2.5 times and estimates she spends more time riding her bicycle than she spends asleep.

Shop Staff

Ryan Rice - Skagway Shop Manager

Ryan was born to work with bicycles as a young lad. Ryan has worked in both our Haines and Skagway shops for the past 7 years. He is a talented bike mechanic with over 8 years of shop experience. In his spare time, he can be found mountain biking single track, hiking at a mountain goat pace, being creative with a needle & thread, or making some fresh sourdough bread.

John Grenz - Retail Sales

From the sweet land called Lebanon, Oregon, that is where John calls home. He is a published poet, loves to travel, and a friendly soul.  He has been coming up to Skagway for the past 2 years and loves this mountain town! He would be a great team member for trivia night; he’s got the film/actor category down.

Ted Kelly - Haines Shop Manager

Bikes are Ted's life passion. He worked at our Haines shop in 2008 - 2009, returning in 2017 to take up the wrench for us again. He graduated from United Bicycle Institute in 2007 and the Serotta Fit School in 2014. Besides bikes he enjoys trucks and delicious food.

Nora Zimmerly

I'm a bike mechanic!!!