Many of my neighbors across my part of town sign up for Nextdoor Neighbor, an app that allows residents to exchange messages–about contractor or doctor recommendations, to report a loss dog, or to offer items for sale–or free.
It’s that last part that got me to thinking: If people have end tables, nightstands and other assorted “stuff,” as George Carlin would say, to give away, maybe some folks have old bikes they’d want to part with.
It’s a hassle to rent bikes for friends who come into town, and I had just cleared a spot in my garage that looked naked. I could easily imagine a few bikes hanging there.
So I posted that I would be happy to re-purpose old bikes folks didn’t want anymore. I immediately got a few responses. In one day I picked up four bikes.
A big beach cruiser had been sitting outside under a shed for years, so the chain was rusted. One was just tuned but the lady said she wanted a racing bike instead. And another woman had two she didn’t ride anymore.
One bike was in great shape but very small and missing a front wheel. I would donate it to the Free Clinic, where our bike club member Patrick Ruta fixes bikes for those who need them to get to work or run errands but can’t afford to buy one.
The other three you see here. One needed a shifter cable. (I learned how to change one of a Shimano Revoshift shifter.) Another needed a rim strip and a tube. One just needed to be cleaned up and lubed.
Last night my wife said, “Let’s take a couple for a spin.” A few blocks away she said, “This is great. Nice ride.” Because I had bought her a new townie bike a few months ago, she said, “Gee, we didn’t need to spend money for a new bike. This is great.”
Sure, I thought. Can you imagine if I had said to her, “I know I have an $8,000 bike, but I’m going to find you a hand-me-down that no one wants”?
No, these bikes are for visitors and for me to ride downtown and not be heart broken if it gets stolen.
You may have noticed that they are all “step-over” frames, what we used to call “girls” bikes. That’s OK. I will proudly ride them anywhere in tribute to my first bike as an adult.
In 1972 when I was working in downtown D.C. I grew tired of the car commute and parking fees, which I really couldn’t afford on my $8,098 annual salary. (Which, however, was good enough to allow me to have my own apartment in the Rosslyn section of Arlington, Va., right across the Key Bridge from Georgetown, something today’s kids starting their careers probably can’t afford.) A secretary I worked with said she had this old bike she’d sell me–for $7. It was rusted but serviceable. To further dissuade thieves, I bought a can of orange spray paint and another of yellow. Holding one in each hand, I painted it. It was so hideous (or psychedelic–remember this was the early 70’s) that I figured no one would steal it–and no one did. I rode it down Pennsylvania Ave. and then Constitution Ave. and chained it to a lamp post.
So yeah, it’s a girls bike. You want to make something of it?
Now I’m going to post what I really want to ride in downtown St.Pete: an old steel racing bike with downtube shifters and a look that would dissuade any potential thief. Let me know if you have one.