Saturday, May 28, 2022

Bike Shop Tales

Scrap haul (Image by Jim Thompson)
The other day, my co-worker at the Cedar Valley Bicycle Collective, Carl, asked me what I thought about working there so far. I told him, as well as anyone else that asks me, that it is a night and day difference from my 25 years of retail bike shop experience. 

The mission of the Cedar Valley Bicycle Collective is not to turn a profit, and that right there makes everything very different. We also are not a service and repair shop, which doubly makes things different. No RAGBRAI tune-ups. No last minute, desperation repairs for racers, forgetful vacationers, or trail bombers. 

We do help people. There is a very vibrant and active cycling community that rides because that is their primary form of transportation. There are folks who cannot afford new bikes that can get good, solid, serviceable options at the Collective. 

We have service programs that help the community, like Bike Valet, Earn-a-Bike, and bike rodeos. We will be doing a few clinics as well coming up. And this all thanks to the Otto Shoitz Foundation Grant which funds operational costs for the Collective, (amongst other grants), and is allowing for us to open up for these clinics and established programs on nights we aren't already in operation. 

We also help the environment by diverting bicycles from landfills and into proper recycling pipelines. Just Wednesday of this last week we probably took nearly 3,000lbs of scrap bicycles and parts to get recycled. This makes me feel good about what I do, and is a big help to the community at large. 

So, back to that question: How do I like working at the Cedar Valley Bicycle Collective? Well, I like it a lot. It is a very rewarding job experience and about as far as East is from the West from where I was before. It will be good to push forward and do even more things with this organization in the future.


Derek said...

Scanning the bikes destined for the scrap heap, I'm curious to know what bikes get reborn and sold... 26" mtn bikes? Bmx or kids bikes? Thanks for contributing to the reduce/ reuse cycle!

Guitar Ted said...

@Derek - We refurbish any bike that (a) is not a 'mart-bike', with certain exceptions, (b) any mountain, road, youth, or hybrid bike that is from the mid-90's or newer, with certain exceptions, and (b) any bike trailer, tag-a-long, or accessory item (racks, trainers, car racks), as long as they are safe, all the parts are there, and we do not have to put too much into it in terms of new parts.

That's a fly-over view of how I assess things, but certain factors come into play such as condition of the item, size, spec of the bike (for instance, a clapped out shock on an otherwise good MTB), and the like.

It can be difficult in some cases, but in reality, probably in 95% of cases, the decision is clear.