Saturday, May 24, 2008


Please excuse this rambling.

I just got back from volunteering time at Community CycleWorks, where I allowed some well-heeled folks to take test rides on my X. That was fun and I'm glad others got to have that experience. Then came reality of helping folks with their bikes. I'm not much of a mechanic yet, but I have a good sense of how things work and can do some basic maintenance. I ended up spending 2 hours there. While there I helped do such simple repairs as properly setting a kickstand and feeding a chain through a derailleure. I also worked on diagnosing some derailleure problems, doing a complicated repair on a tandem's rear wheel (flat tire, messy cable ends, poor wheel alignment) owned by some developmentally disabled friends, and more. At one point, a person helping out came up to me and started talking about volunteering as a way to stay clean and sober. He was spending time there to be of service until he can find work and reasonable housing for his family. When he found out I was a social worker he asked me for a referral to a mental health program. Later, I walked out of the shop in time to overhear a well-heeled couple walking by and snickering to themselves about the used bikes and the concept of such an effort. I kept my mouth shut, though I had a few choice thoughts.

So, right here and right now I'm grateful for all the resources I've had in my life that allow me to compose this message on a state-of-the-art home computer and have the perspective to recognize socioeconomic disparities as something very real - not something that happens "out there," but right here in front of my eyes. I'm grateful for my X and grateful I have a choice of whether to ride it or drive my pretty well functioning car down pretty well maintained roads.

More power to all of you who spend time volunteering in places where many need help with their bicycles, where ever you may be.


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