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!