Tuesday, April 18, 2023

An Update On The Cedar Valley Bicycle Collective

With the raging winds sticking around here for the start of the week, I am going to take this opportunity to give you all an update on what is going on with my job at the Cedar Valley Bicycle Collective

So, in case you were not aware, I took a job at the CVBC at the beginning of 2022 after my tenure at Andy's Bike Shop concluded when he closed the business down due to COVID related pressures in late 2021. So, now I am the "head mechanic" at the Collective where we take in bicycle donations from the community and turn those into viable transportation solutions, low-cost recreation options, and parts options for those who are fixing up older bicycles. We also recycle old, used up bicycles and parts to keep them out of our landfill. Besides this, we offer community programs which range from bicycle maintenance programs, clinics on cycling, and bicycle rodeos, plus more.


Okay, now that I have explained all that, here's what has been going on down there of late. First, I continue to be involved in the transformation of the business space which has included a lot of cleaning, rearranging, and rethinking of how things were done. I revamped the Collective's "Earn-A-Bike Program" and I am currently conducting a seven-week class with our first E.A.B. students which will conclude at the end of this month. A second session is slated for June at this time. 

I'll be doing another Bike Rodeo on May 20th. Meanwhile, something came up this past week that I will be trying to get off the ground which will involve several like-businesses in Iowa. And it involves the main focus of this post anyway.

The basement in the old building that houses the CVBC

So, take a look at the image here to the left. This is the basement where I work. It is a century-plus old downtown business building which used to be a jewelry store, (I think), and is one of those typical long-narrow spaces you might be familiar with in old town architecture here in the USA. Anyway...

The line of bicycles to the left there represents what I did on Friday. As I stated, we take donations of old bicycles, but in this area, we do not see enough bikes coming in to satisfy the needs of this community. So, last year, when I posted about this issue, a fellow comrade in the Collective scene reached out to me from Des Moines. They have a business down there called the Street Collective, which is basically similar to the CVBC only that it is on a much larger scale and serves a much wider region than the CVBC does. 

Their director, Bobby Kennedy, (He of the Stupid Pony in Utah. Yes - that Bobby Kennedy!), told me then, and reiterated this past week to me, that they take in far more bicycles than they can handle, so he suggested last year that they share with the CVBC. Last season we picked up about 60 bicycles from them, and last Friday we picked up 47 more. That's what you see there in the image in the row on the right side.  

The pile in the foreground in the image is a scrap pile waiting to go to the recyclers. Behind that is a line of already refurbished bicycles waiting to be sold. Oh! And the person in the background is Carl, my assistant at the CVBC. 

The other thing that came out of Friday's visit? Well, I got the idea that all the Collective-type business in Iowa ought to at least be communicating with each other. So, initially I am going to try reaching out to the various businesses in Iowa like the Street Collective, We-Cycle in Ames, The Bike Library in Iowa City, and any others I can uncover, to maybe start a line of communication that we can all benefit from in several ways. (My opinion, others may disagree!) 

All of the above, and the fact that instead of working five days a week I now only get three, are the reasons why you won't be seeing me much out doing races in the future. (a) I cannot afford it anymore and (b) I work on Saturdays. That's a one-two punch I cannot overcome at this point. Maybe someday....

Finally, an appeal: You may not live anywhere near me, but I am willing to bet that there is something like the Cedar Valley Bicycle Collective near you. Check it out if so and see if you can lend a hand in their mission to get more people on bicycles and enjoying a healthier alternative lifestyle. We shouldn't expect that traditional bicycle retail will ever reach many people that Collective-type businesses can and do reach. But they all need help. 

Thanks for reading today!


MG said...

Amen, Brother!!! The work you’re doing matters so much. A good bicycle can unlock so much potential in peoples’ lives.

Here in Lincoln, we have the Lincoln Bike Kitchen, and the folks that run that are fabulous. Your story today reminds me that I need to get together a bunch of frames and parts and take them over to donate. Thanks for that!!

In a sport where it seems like the cost of entry keeps getting higher and higher, it’s heartening that there are still places people can go to get a good bike. Thanks for being that connection, Brother.

Guitar Ted said...

@MG - Thanks Brother!!

Daniel said...

Over here in Portland we've got the Community Cycling Center. Its a brilliant little place that sells all sorts of things. If you need a cheap used bike, that isn't some Walmart bike, that's your place. You may even find some vintage Campy stuff there if you're lucky. They also recently unionized which is always good to hear.