You probably know me if you're reading this but my name is David.
I look like this:
But with more pastel.
This blog will be me documenting my bike travels across the country as I visit non-profit organizations designed to help people use bicycles.
What the heck is a bike Co-Op?
Is it like a chicken coop, for bikes?
They're all a little different but they usually have some things in common:
Co-Ops are community based organizations. People come together there to do things like assemble youth bikes for low income families, or prepare bikes for shipment to third-word countries where peoples livelihoods depend on their bikes but they don't have access to new parts. Or volunteering could be as simple as sorting bike parts so they're available to reuse. Everyone is working together.
They'll help you fix your bike.
Unlike a bike shop who'll happily fix your bike FOR you a Co-Op would rather teach you the skills to help you become that much more self-sufficient.
Its the whole teach a person to fish thing.
They will teach you how to ride safely!
Either formally via classes or informally by example there are usually some riding experts around to help you navigate the rigors of city traffic. And so many people in the U.S. are finding out its a great cheap, healthy way to get around.
Except maybe in Cleveland.
And in Cleveland, there is the Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op where I volunteer.
You can learn all about them here:
And if you like bikes and live in Cleveland, definitely check this out.
Last year was loads of fun. John McGovern bartended.
So I've been volunteering there going on two years now, and after taking their mechanics courses and getting lots of hands on experience I've gotten multiple jobs as a bike mechanic. Most recently at Fairview Cycle in Fairview Park, OH where I work with this guy:
More on him later.
So between working at a bike shop and having an awesome bike Co-Op at my back, Bikelife treats me pretty good. I can handle just about anything the streets of Cleveland have to throw at me.
Even winter isn't so bad, if you dress for it its plenty of fun.
I had two Cleveland winters under my belt and thought
"I've really got this down! Bring it on! Heh-Heh!"
And then The Polar Vortex hit.
Studded tires. Snow goggles. Waterproof shell.
"Maybe I should just lease a Kia."
Don't get me wrong, winter cycling is absolutely viable and remains being a healthier and cheaper (and sometimes faster) way of getting around than driving all winter.
I mean by the time your car heater warms up you're already at your destination anyway. Right?
But I started to formulate a plan in my little Davey subconscious.
1. My job at the bikeshop is seasonal, what am I going to do all winter?
2. While all of you were enjoying the beautiful sunshine and riding your bikes this summer, I was inside. Adjusting your derailleurs. Every day. Till midnight.
With this guy.
I deserve a break.
3. I've had a hankering to go on a long bike tour, why not this winter? I've already got the gear!
4. I have dear friends and family spread out across the country. Some of those places are WARM during the winter. At least compared to Cleveland.
I want to be warm again. And ride my bike. And have adventures.
But this is about more than just me.
I really believe in what bike Co-Ops do.. They're full of kind progressive minded individuals determined to help people be more active and healthy, be mobile in an economically and environmentally sustainable way, and have fun.
They've helped me in so many ways.
So now its my turn to help them.
I leave in three days. More to come.