kids bikes News Volunteers

Bike repair volunteers love to learn

Gordon Ayars figures you’re never too old to learn to repair a bicycle.

By Kristin Kinnamon, board member

Do you like to learn new things and make children smile? That’s what motivates regular volunteers at Sharing Wheels kid bike repair parties. The events continue on Tuesday and Thursday nights through June, and anyone is welcome to attend – no mechanical experience needed.

Starting from scratch is exactly what first got 71-year-old Gordon Ayars into the shop to help one year ago. “I wanted to experience and remember what it was like to learn something absolutely new to me,” he said.

With shop staff and experienced volunteers to teach him, Gordon has learned about derailleurs, “multitudinous brake systems,” and that 27-inch tires are actually BIGGER than tires marked 27.5 inch. Gordon doesnt bike himself anymore, but he recalls many adventures biking around Snohomish County on an English 8-speed bike that he purchased for $63 in about 1964.

Marysville resident Pete Pias already volunteers in the shop every week working on adult bikes and helping customers. But he loves serving a whole different demographic through the kids bike program. He was in the shop recently when a Ukrainian mom came in with her daughter to pick up a kids bike that volunteers had refurbished. Pete wasn’t sure how much English the family knew, but one thing was clear: “The child was really cute and really happy to get a bike,” Pete says. Pete has fond memories of biking with his family when he grew up in Wisconsin. 

Memories of biking everywhere as a kid are the main reason Jeff Austin has been helping at kid bike repair parties since 2021. “I had seen an article in the Everett Herald about the Sharing Wheels holiday bike program,” Jeff says. “The importance of a bike to a kid is still fresh in my memory.” Last year, a Herald story about helping refugee families through our free bike programs included photos of Jeff. 

A retired Boeing engineer, Jeff also loves working with his hands. “I’m still fascinated by machines – a bicycle is an extraordinary machine!” he says. “The opportunity to learn is a draw as well. Larry, Tony, Andrew and Lou are all awesome and very knowledgeable instructors. I learn something every time I work in the shop.”

Like many of us, Jeff has fond memories of the various  bikes he owned and outgrew as a kid – all Free Spirits (since his dad worked for Sears & Roebuck, which sold them). “The coolest one was red, white and blue with a banana seat,” Jeff recalled.

If you’d like to relive your childhood, learn new things, and help low income families, RSVP for a Spring Kids Bike Repair Party on the Sharing Wheels Calendar.