Repair That Bike! Avoid Wiping Out!

Since my bicycle was STOLEN (*anger face*) three weeks before moving, as soon as I was in Pennsylvania, I knew I needed to procure a new bike. I’m car free, after all, so I need a bike to get around in a sensible amount of time.

Allow me to introduce you to one of the most amazing organizations I’ve come in contact with: Recycle Bicycle. The deal is this: Abandoned bikes are brought in, torn down to usable pieces or set aside for repair. People bring their broken bikes and they’re shown how to fix them and given parts if it makes sense. If you need a bike, you go and you’re told that your time is worth $10 and each bike is worth $20. So, you give two hours of time learning and helping and you’re paid in a bike (usually one YOU just repaired). The rest, of course, is all volunteer. However, if you volunteer 12 hours, they have a special area of super special bikes that are worth $120. I have a feeling I’ll volunteer more than that.

I’m in love. I will be volunteering there on a semi-regular basis. There is no reason why anyone in Harrisburg should not have a bike thanks to this place and the dozens of bikes they have there. The guy who runs the place, Ross Willard, literally just wants people to be safe, and enable them to do it by having, learning about, and repairing their bikes. He wants people to be empowered to do this. He doesn’t take shit though; you try to pull one over on him and he’ll call you out. I also imagine he just really likes bikes.

I resonate here. Biking is healthier than driving, you’re less likely to die, it’s kinder to the environment, easy to repair, understand, and maintain, is less costly and more accessible to all people than a car, and what fun! I’d just like to see Harrisburg get more bike lanes so we’re not terrified by traffic or terrifying pedestrians on sidewalks.

I went and was told to pick out a bike to fix. I picked out a slick looking orange-red hybrid. It was a one speed which I was warned against, but in hopes of being bad ass, I said I wanted to try it out. It wasn’t a hard repair and I spent most of those couple hours learning how to recognize parts, tools of the trade, and tearing down bikes.

My bike ride home was bliss. The bike was not too hard. My former bike had more speeds, but I usually just kept it on 3 and this bike was comparable. The only part I struggled with somewhat was remembering to back peddle to break, rather than use handle bar breaks. Plus, when my feet were on the ground, I was a little off the seat, so getting used to that was a thing. Still, biking home was a pleasure and I thought I’d do just fine with this bike.

The next day I had an interview for a subbing job at a private school a few miles away. Behind the cemetery I live next to, there is a little path down to the bike trail that would take me half the way. Because I remembered the trail wrong, had not practiced enough with the breaks, and completely forgot that I did not have a mountain bike anymore, rather than being a bad ass, I managed to be a complete dumb ass, and decided to go down the little path. It was terrifying. And I’d completely failed the safety quiz.

I was going too fast, I knew, but it was hard to slow down. There were two trees close together ahead. Somehow, I maneuvered between them successfully. However, I did not maneuver beyond the tree that came right after them.

Top left: 2nd day, thumb swollen to nearly twice the size of my other, scrapes and scratches. Thumb can move but it hurts like hell (getting better; I can do half of a thumbs up now). Top right: 3rd day bruising, there was a more obvious cut as well. Bottom left: Even my little pinky is bruised! Bottom right: 3rd day bruising and big scrape on left thigh. More cuts and smaller bruises on other parts of leg, back, and chest.

Bikes may be way safer overall, but I seem to be prone to minor injuries (this is somewhat less minor than the others- a lot more painful and I’m still healing, but nothing broken or hacked off or life-threatening). This crash takes the cake though and I have no doubt I will be more cautious, especially with unfamiliar bikes, in the future. I am awaiting a reschedule for that interview and how I’ll explain the dent in the front fender to Ross…

Alas, things happen, but this has not hindered my love affair with bikes or their value to society. I am reminded that bike safety is paramount to keeping that love and value alive. I tip my hat to Ross for his work and will be sure to listen closer to his safety part of the lesson.


Featured photo is of my bike. A little banged up, but nothing I can’t handle.

One thought on “Repair That Bike! Avoid Wiping Out!

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