Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 3:37 PM on Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Old bikes wheeled out for new owners

By Lindsay Johnson
Staff writer


Photo by Lindsay Johnson, Homer News

Volunteers work on bicycles for Bikes Rock Homer outside the K-Bay Bike Bank on East End Road.

Last Friday was like Christmas and Independence Day rolled into one at East End Mini Storage.

Bikes and barbecue filled the space between banks of storage units. A sizable group of children and adults were wrenching on bikes, supervising the grill, sorting parts, fitting helmets, riding around, smiling.

Six people, ranging in age from 7 to 40, left with new-to-them bicycles and two more have bikes on the way because of the effort.

It was the inaugural Bikes Rock Homer fix 'em party, organized to expedite the group's process of turning unwanted bikes into fun and functional transportation for others.

"I just thought it would be really cool with the idea behind Nature Rocks to get people outside and doing things and wouldn't it be cool to get kids who need bikes not only outside but to have transportation," said organizer Sallie Rediske, who brought the idea up at a Nature Rocks Homer meeting last fall.

"It's turned into a really cool recycling program," she said.

Bikes Rock Homer has collected approximately 50 bikes and given away more than 20 since putting out the call in February. Bikes Rock provides a helmet and lock, too, if the recipient needs them.

Rediske said an outpouring of donations, volunteer hours and interest has helped the program succeed even as it is being developed.

"I was told that this was not going to fly, because the kids don't really get into bikes and they're not going to use bikes. It's not the case," she said.

Take one seven-year-old girl who received a bike Friday.

"She saw it and was just (wide eyed and waving hands). She touched it like she was petting an animal and just squealed. She was so excited," Rediske said. "It's just laying the foundation for kids loving to ride and also helping people who need to have transportation too. It's really been fun."

Fun, transportation and community resonate with the Homer Cycling Club, which turned up in force to get some work done at the fix 'em party.

"It was the kind of thing that Homer Cycling Club had already been wanting to work on. We had some energy we wanted to put there, then we saw Bikes Rock Homer so we knew we already had volunteers that maybe could mesh and collaborate," said club secretary Catriona Lowe.

Besides fixing up bikes, club members and other volunteers stripped beat-up bikes and sorted parts in a storage unit rented by Derek Reynolds, owner of Cycle Logical. With six years of stockpiled bicycles, Reynolds said the idea arose to sort the stash into a resource for the growing community of local cyclists.

"It's a work in progress," Reynolds said. "The K-Bay Bike Bank, should it come to pass, which looks promising, will be a bike depository and place for withdrawals for bike parts for people who know how to work on their bike," he said.

For a small charge, people would be able to use parts, tools and the space. The bike bank would also serve Bikes Rock Homer, as it already has by supplying necessary recycled parts.

"It's my idea to help benefit the bike club and help benefit Bikes Rock and just help people, people who can't necessarily afford the labor," Reynolds said.

Enabling people to work on their own bikes is a popular idea, though whether it would be through the bike bank, the cycling club, Bikes Rock Homer or another organization has yet to be determined.

For now, knowledgeable bike repairpeople are needed to get as many rolling as possible.

Bike donations are welcome at the fire station and the Homer Bookstore.

Contact Rediske at 235-7921 or sallie_rediske@yahoo.com if you'd like to be part of Bikes Rock, as a donor, recipient or volunteer.

Lindsay Johnson may be reached at lindsay.johnson@homernews.com.