Bike repair ministry: an uphill climb

Late last summer I took the long drive home in order to avoid sitting in traffic. It makes little sense, I know, to drive 5 miles out of my way, just to avoid waiting at red lights, but there is an added advantage to my alternative route: it goes around a lake and skirts the edge of the corn and wheat fields. Although it’s complete illusion, it appears – at least for a few hundred yards – that I’m not surrounded by suburbia…provided I only look out of my left window.

For some reason, I decided to look out the right window on this particular day, and I happened to notice a couple of kids’ bikes waiting for trash pick-up. They were not in excellent shape by any means, but there’s something profoundly tragic about a bike – a child’s bike, no less – being thoughtlessly dumped into the trash. Something whispered in my ear that I should go back and pick them up, fix ’em, then donate them to our church’s Food (and miscellany) Pantry.

I checked with the guy who was throwing the bikes away before I took them. He told me, “You want ’em: they’re yours.”

Since that day, I’ve been seeing bikes of varying conditions in the trash. I pick them up and bring them home like stray puppies, thinking that I’m going to rehab these suckers and either give them to the church or just take them downtown and give them away. Some day.

The real trouble is this: bike repair is expensive! Some of these bikes are kids’ bikes, so the repair needed is kind of minimal. New chain here, new saddle there, a new coat of paint all over, bam! Some of them, though, are pretty decent bikes of a good size. A new chain for a multi-speed bike is not cheap. Some of these things are in rough shape, so they’ll need new dérailleurs, new cables, wheel truing, paint, the works. I work for a non-profit, which means that my paycheck…well…sucks.

I know this blog isn’t read by more than 2 or 3 people, but maybe one of you is a genius. Do you have any clue where I might find a grant to do a bike rehab? If I had more than novice skills, I might consider starting my own not-for-profit, where I could eke out a living and teach kids about bike repair. Apparently a similar situation used to exist in Indianapolis, but that’s defunct now, and frankly, not much help. I looked at the 1 red paperclip site to see if there was any free bike repair stuff out there, but I couldn’t find anything. So, if you read this blog, and if you’re a grant-finding genius (or are independently wealthy and interested in financing my venture – ahem), drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.

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Update:  Look at what I just found.  This is what I’m talking about!

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One Response to “Bike repair ministry: an uphill climb”

  1. We have a bike ministry in Atlanta. http://www.beltlinebkeshop.com

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