Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Recycled Bikes for the Street

Liz will tell you that I don't talk much about my "bike ministry." It's just something that I do.

For about four years now I've spent a morning or two every week on the streets with the Norfolk Catholic Worker when they feed the homeless. While Steve and Kim and a host of volunteers ladle grits and fill coffee cups, I fix bikes.

I load up my BOB trailer with bike tools and parts, an apron to keep the grease off my office clothes, and even a workstand. I'm usually working on crappy Walmart bikes, but occasionally I'll see a Schwinn or a Diamondback, maybe a Raleigh or a Peugot.

It's really basic stuff- adjust brakes, true wheels, trim derailleurs, tighten seatposts, and patch flats. Always patch flats. I try to keep at least 4 spare tires and tubes in my trailer.

I also give away bikes. People like Liz and a host of Tripower folks give me older bikes to overhaul. I try to get them to the point where the bikes are simply working, and working simply: no need for 21 gears around Tidewater, so I usually just convert the bikes into ad hoc singlespeeds.

Now here's the part where you come in- in order to secure the blessing of a bicycle for a guy who doesn't have bus fare to get to his job site, I need bike locks. It used to be that I just went to the hardware store & bought chains and padlocks, but the bike thieves are getting too active in Norfolk for that to work anymore. So I'm upgrading to U-locks. Preferably Kryptonite U-locks. $25 will buy a U-lock that will deter all but the most well-equipped bike thieves. I've got four bikes sitting in my garage right now that I could have out on the street this week, but I don't have U-locks to go with them.

So if you've got a few extra bucks you could invest in some bike security, head on over to PayPal and send me some. My PayPal account is friendwes_at_mac.com (You'll have to replace _at_ with @. Sorry, but I'm trying to avoid spambots...)

So back to Liz...Liz passed along a sweet little Bianchi 'cross bike for me to build up. I stripped off the old bar-end shifters, rebuilt the front chainring, converted it to a singlespeed, installed some old fenders & a rack I had laying around, and put some good reflectors on it for good measure. I also added a U-lock. So soon enough Liz should be seeing her old bike being put to a new purpose around town.

As I get the other bikes out of my garage, including a sweet little Giant mountain bike from Crazy Mike, I'll post the pictures online.

Thanks, folks!


Liz Schleeper said...

Nice job with the Biachi.

Anonymous said...

Awesome Wes!
See you this Friday for Critical Mass?