Categories
News Volunteers

Mobile bike clinics keep people rolling

By Christy Cowley, Executive Director

We’ve gone and done it again for the third year. Partnering with libraries, community centers and WSU Repair Cafe, we’ve offered 26 free bike repair events in Snohomish County this year.* We fixed almost 180 bicycles, plus a few walkers and scooters as well.

The minor bike repairs are completely free thanks to 16 volunteers, who donated 312 hours of their time, and to the The Larson Legacy Foundation, who once again partially funded the purchase of the tools, parts and accessories necessary to run the program.

We never ask for payment at our mobile bike repair clinics, but some people just can’t resist showing their appreciation. Ted was one of those satisfied customers. With no reliable income and only a broken bike to get around town, he came to our monthly clinic at Everett’s Evergreen Library for help. When we were done fixing his bike, he emptied his pockets of all his loose change to thank our volunteers.

The average local bike shop charges $75 an hour for labor, so even basic bike repairs can be way beyond what many people can afford. That’s why we go out into the community to offer help.

Our volunteers helped a wide range of customers in 2023:

  • 43% identified as low or very low income
  • 15% had disabilities
  • 27% were Asian, 12% Hispanic or Latino, 8% Black or African American, and 3% were Native American

With all that diversity everyone still had one thing in common – a bike in need of repair. 

No one should ever have to ride a bike with tattered brake cables and broken pedals. That’s why Sharing Wheels will continue to expand the mobile repair program and offer this much-needed service in 2024 and beyond. 

*Mobile Repair Clinic Locations

  • Evergreen Library
  • Mariner Library
  • Bothell Library
  • WSU Repair Cafes throughout Snohomish County
  • First Baptist Church, Everett

Thanks especially to the Everett Public Library and Sno-Isle Library systems, whose staff helped host and promote the events.

Categories
Mountain Bikes News Volunteers

Elite mountain biker volunteered at Sharing Wheels

Photo by Annie Barker / The Herald

You may have enjoyed a recent article in the Everett Herald about a young mountain biker from Snohomish. But according to one of our super volunteers, Larry Williamson, the story starts five and a half years ago on April 12, 2018….

“At a Thursday evening kids’ bike work party for the June bike swap, a resident from Snohomish, Nick Pate, brought his son Alden, about 13 at the time, in to do some community service required by his school.  Nick and Alden refurbished a Mongoose bike that night.”

“Nick and I got to talking about bike storage and, to my surprise, he offered to let Sharing Wheels store bikes in the barn at his Raising Cane Ranch along the Snohomish River. The shop stored bikes there until mid-2019.”

Fast forward to today. Per the Herald article:

“Five years after his first race, Alden Pate, 19, finds himself traversing the globe as one of the top under-21 enduro mountain bikers in the world.”

The 2023 Snohomish High School graduate aims at a professional career in the sport.  He has raced in international events in Tasmania, Italy, Austria, and France!

Read the article here.

Categories
Donations News Volunteers

Supporter Profile: Amy Fox

By Kristin Kinnamon, volunteer

Amy Fox first got connected with Sharing Wheels more than 15 years ago. She had a beloved Bridgestone MB3 mountain bike that she no longer used (after upgrading to a more modern bike).

She donated her classic bike “reluctantly but with great belief that it would find a new home with someone who really needed it.”

“Connecting unused bikes to people who need wheels,” is a big part of what Sharing Wheels does by refurbishing and repurposing donated bikes.

Since her first bike donation, Amy has taken repair classes at Sharing Wheels, volunteered at our Kid Bike Work Parties, and donated her parent’s beloved tandem to the shop.

She and her husband Brice Howard (a former board president of Sharing Wheels) are yearly financial donors to the organization as well.

”I am inspired to provide bikes to children and adults who need them,” she says. She values our programs that help people work on their own bikes, and that support people who need to bike to get around.

Amy has loved biking since she was a kid.  Her first bike was named “Tinkerbell”, complete with a white basket, purple tassels and a white banana seat. Cruising down her dead end street, with tassels dancing from the one speed she went, fast.

After getting in a car crash at age 17, Amy got around solely by bike until she was 25. “Having a bike meant freedom from the anxiety that I had developed around driving a car.  It also gave me more confidence in myself, that I could independently get places, just putting my foot on the pedal and pushing.”

Categories
News Volunteers

New Shop Manager Ed

Sharing Wheels News

We would like to introduce Ed Roos as our new Shop Manager! Ed started with us on staff right after Labor Day, but he first came to Sharing Wheels as a volunteer during our Holiday Kid Bike Work parties last fall.

He then joined a new volunteer training in January and donated his time in our shop and at outreach events every week since.

Ed has been an urban bike commuter for most of his working life. He has also “biked every nook and cranny of Western Washington”, participating in the STP, The Chilly Hilly, RSVP, The Tri Island and many other bike rides in the area.

His recent professional experience was serving as an elementary school principal in Seattle Public Schools. He has since started an education consulting business, which he’ll continue to do on the side.

Like his predecessor Aaron Taht, a big part of Ed’s job is keeping things organized, keeping volunteers busy on useful projects, and keeping customers happy.

Andrew Longstreet continues as our main bike mechanic. Executive Director Christy Cowley is excited to have Ed on staff as a partner in the growth of Sharing Wheels as an organization.

“His past professional experience of leading teams, developing training programs and improving operational efficiency will serve our organization well as we move forward,” she said.

Categories
News Uncategorized

Channel to Mediterranean

From June 17 to June 30, our Executive Director Christy Cowley embarked on a 14 day, guided ride across France. Starting on the northern Normandy coast at Ouistreham on the English Channel, she rode southwards for approximately 870 miles through the stunning French countryside. Experiencing the Loire Valley, Puy-de-Dome and Provence, she finished the tour near Nice on the Mediterranean Sea.

Christy’s Route

Her group numbered 24 cyclists with 3 guides, one of which rode with the group and acted as the sweeper to ensure everyone was kept on the correct course. The other two drove the ‘brew vans’, which would meet them at mile 15 and then again after lunch at about mile 55 to provide much needed fuel and liquid throughout the day. In Europe, brew typically implies coffee and tea, not beer. The riders luggage was transported to their accommodations each day, so they didn’t have to worry about lugging it on their bikes.

The group at the ‘Brew Van’

The ride took place almost exclusively on local roads, with a few miles on paved trails. “We were rarely on roads with much traffic. When cars did pass us, they always gave plenty of room to the cyclists,” Christy recalled. “Traffic didn’t get heavy until the final days as we got closer to Nice. Most of the days we were in very unpopulated areas of France. But even on the heavy traffic days, the drivers were careful to give us space.” They crossed the entire country and not a single car honked or tried to run her off the road! 

During her ride, Christy experienced a wide range of temperatures, from heat, cold, rain and even hail. On the final day of riding, there was a serious rain and hail storm so the rider took cover in the tunnels with the cars, whom also took shelter in the tunnels to wait out the storm. 2 hours later they were swimming in the Mediterranean.

Taking shelter from the storm

Great food and spectacular views

France is renowned for its food, and there was no shortage of good food to eat. Staying away from the fried foods like the french fries, or frites, they dined on Croissants, yogurt, fruit and eggs every morning. “We always looked forward to the lunch stops at local restaurants (provided by the tour) or picnics in the countryside,” Christy said. “I honestly forgot what it felt like to be hungry.”

Christy said that one of the most spectacular days was on day 13 when they rode into the Gorges du Verdon. This stunning gorge is the second largest in the world after the Grand Canyon. They started the ascent near the azure waters of the Lake de Saint Croix and slowly pedaled their way to the top of the gorge. The most beautiful aquamarine Verdon River greeted them at the bottom of the descent, and yes, “I did take a dip to cool down.”

Gorges du Verdon

Another standout was the ascent of Mont Ventoux. “The climb was on Day 11 so we had 10 days to fret and chat about it,” Christy said. “It’s a long, slow grind just as advertised, so I just found the (slow) pedal cadence that I could comfortably maintain and tried to enjoy every single moment. Conditions were perfect, low 70s with cloud cover. The descent was a blast!”

Christy atop Mont Ventoux

Fixing a flat

Asked about a nice detail about the trip, Christy recalled an experience with a flat tire. “At the end of one of the rainy days we were about 5 miles from our hotel and completely drenched. One of the riders got a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. Well, almost nowhere. There happened to be one small country house and a lady popped out in her raincoat and umbrella,” Christy said.

“She spoke only French and we spoke only English. At some point as she was speaking (really fast in French) I heard the word ‘garage’. I repeated the word and she turned around and led us into her garage so we could fix the flat out of the rain. It was such a kind gesture and she was happy to watch as we repaired the flat, all the while talking in French and smiling. With the flat repaired, she guided us out of her garage and waved goodbye.”

Fixing a flat
Categories
kids bikes News Volunteers

Kids Bikes Exceed Expectations

Summer 2023

Our goal this spring was to clean and repair 55+ kids bikes in time for summer. Thanks to dedicated volunteers, we exceeded our goal and donated 64 bikes to low income families through June.

Volunteers Larry and Tony again hosted each of the 16 work parties, with assistance from our staff mechanic Andrew. Many volunteers returned again and again, refurbishing a total of 79 kid bikes that had been donated to us. *

We partnered with other organizations to get the fixed bikes to low income families. Kids got bikes through:

An additional 75 kid bikes donated to us by community members are waiting to be repaired during our Christmas House program that starts in the fall. Until then, a generous Lake Stevens resident who works for Cascade Bicycle Club heard about our need for bike storage and donated her garage.

*The extra “done’ bikes are now for sale to support the shop.

Categories
kids bikes News Volunteers

Storage Space Needed

Have extra space in your secure, water-tight garage or shed for kids bikes and a good cause? Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop needs space to store bikes that have been donated for our Christmas House program.

The bikes will be repaired by volunteers this fall and donated to low income families for the holidays.

If you live in Everett and have extra space to store up to 75 kid bikes from now until Dec. 1, Sharing Wheels will pay you up to $100 per month.

Sharing Wheels won’t need access to the bikes until mid-September. Once the fall kids bike program gets rolling, volunteers would need access to the stored bikes about once a week (scheduled in advance).

If you are interested in helping out this community program, please contact Executive Director Christy Cowley at ccowley@sharingwheels.org