My family tends to accumulate bicycles. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I tend to accumulate bikes, which tends to drive The Engineer crazy.
You see, I love bikes, and I love getting a bargain, so when I see a bicycle at a garage sale … well, you can guess the outcome.
This is how we came to own six bikes for three people. At one point, we actually had seven, but one was kind of rusty and in not very good shape so I think it became recycled metal.
Anyway, a few years ago at our Relay for Life garage sale, someone donated an Raleigh road bike. It was a lovely old ten-speed in reasonable condition but the sale’s customers just didn’t seem to appreciate such a classic vintage bicycle.
In the end, I bought it “for my daughter.”
Yeah, right. Darling Daughter already had three bikes (a folding bike for the plane, an airport bike and her regular bike), and didn’t really want or need another.
Still, I managed to convince myself otherwise. After all, someday, she’s going to do a bike tour with me (a promise I weaseled out of her when I was in chemo — never underestimate the power of”the cancer card”).
Sure, she’ll do a tour with me, once I’m too old to ride more than she can ride without training.
Anyway, the Raleigh has lived in our hangar for about two years, nestled among our folding bikes, its tires pumped up once a year but rarely ridden.
I couldn’t bear to donate it to Goodwill; this bicycle deserved better — a loving home with someone who would appreciate its charm.
Thankfully, a friend of ours mentioned Ohio City Bicycle Co-op, a place I’d heard of but never visited.
Turns out they accept donations of bicycles, which are then refurbished by volunteers and young people who might otherwise not be able to afford a bike. To quote their website, “OCBC’s Earn A Bike program is an in-depth course of bike repair and riding for youth. By completing the program, students earn a refurbished basic mountain bike, with a new helmet and lock. This program is free for any child.” (http://tinyurl.com/nbxkjho)
Well, I think that’s splendid, so splendid that I followed the extremely detailed, eleven-step directions from their website down to their shop in the bowels of The Flats (and isn’t that an interesting part of town). I took the Raleigh, and when I wheeled it in, one of the men working there said, “My old bike!”
It was an omen. Our bargain bicycle had found its place.
And what a place it was! I could have stayed for hours, looking at all the stuff — a side-by-side tandem and several wide-seated bicycles like the one I learned to ride on.
There were discount store bikes for sale, but also several high-end bicycle shop bikes at extremely reasonable (read “cheap”) prices, plus used and new seats, baskets, bags, jerseys — anything and everything to do with bicycles.
How incredible that such an amazing endeavor manages to function with a work force made up almost entirely of volunteers!
So, next time you hear someone knock our fair city on the lake, go ahead and tell them about our fabulous (free!) art museum, our Rock Hall, and our sports teams — or maybe you’d be better off bragging about our ridiculously, contrarily loyal sports fans — but be sure to mention the small wonder that is Ohio City Bicycle Co-op.
And, here’s another idea. Why not donate those bikes your family no longer uses, or even some (gasp!) money? If you don’t want to follow the eleven-step directions to Co-op’s shop, contact me. I’ll do it for you.
For more information about the Cleveland Bicycle Co-op, visit their website: http://tinyurl.com/myysaxk