American Pickers fans are well aware of Mike Wolfe’s affliction for motorcycles and scooters. What they may not know, though, is that before his career with the History Channel, Wolfe preferred to travel on bikes without motors. Back in 2010, Wolfe finally got the break he needed when, after five years of pitching his show, the network picked up the idea. Within the first season, the American Pickers star had the nation celebrating his search for rusty gold.
A few decades before his career on television, Wolfe was a star in the cycling world, riding in Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) five times throughout the 80s and 90s. The event is a six-day ride across the state, covering an average of 468 miles of “not necessarily flat” ground. Participants ride a total of 67 miles each day. Besides difficult recreational rides, Wolfe has also completed quite a few competitions and even brought home some awards. This includes the Iowa State Time Trial Championships in 1998.
Without his love for cycling, it’s likely that American Pickers never would have made it to our screens. In fact, his first-ever pick was an old bicycle that he found in an overgrown patch of weeds at just six years old. Already a talented rider and mechanic, the future History Channel star brought the bike home and fixed it up. After he retired from the road, Wolfe focused his energy on repairing them rather than riding them. This led to his job building 13 bikes a day for a shop named Bike n Hike in Davenport, Iowa. Soon enough, he opened two bike shops of his own.
‘American Pickers’ Star Shows Charitable Side
As time would tell, the American Pickers star couldn’t stop at finding and repairing just bikes. His interest for antiques began to grow, reaching the motorcycle industry, cars, movies, music and other essential elements of American culture. Before long, he became a star on reality television. But just three years into the show, someone came along that changed Wolfe’s life. In 2013, Wolfe’s then wife, Jodi Faeth, gave birth to their daughter, Charlie Faeth Wolfe. Little Charlie had a cleft palate and lip. However, thanks to the help of some skilled surgeons, Charlie’s smile was restored.
Following his daughter’s journey in the first years of her life, Wolfe decided to give back to an organization that helped children with the same condition as his daughter, Operation Smile. Instead of just gifting them with money, though, Wolfe decided to take his charitable actions one step further. He employed an Iowa-based sculptor company to create statues named “Charlie’s Smile.” Wolfe then gave these sculptures to the organization for a fundraiser.
Beyond his work with Operation Smile, the American Pickers star has also teamed up with a variety of other charities, including St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and animal shelters.