Friday, June 26, 2009

John P. Holland School Bike Donation

Here at The International Bicycle Centers we have a program in place which allows folks to trade in any Trek or Fisher kids bike within two years of purchase for a credit of up to 50% of its value toward a new kids bike. They can even trade their kid's last juvenile bike toward their first adult bike. The program allows us to donate 100s of perfectly good bikes to kids who might not otherwise have them.

This year we chose to outfit 110 or so kids at The John P. Holland School in Dorchester, MA with bikes and Trek Vapor Youth Helmets.

All this came together quickly and with the end of the school year looming, just days away, we had to get the fleet of bikes together in short time. For about a week IBC's service center transformed into a cluttered Santa's workshop, organ donor bikes getting trampled underfoot as a team of mechanics tuned and cleaned each individual bike. With the help of Holland School 1st grade teacher Julie Sneed we were able to match bikes with specific children. Knowing that a bike would go to a particular child gave us all the more impetus to make sure each one was absolutely perfect.

The delivery of the bikes was carried out over three days. Kids would come down to the bike-filled basement of the school in groups of about ten, get fitted for a helmet, then pick their bike out of the line up. Saddles and bars were then adjusted for each child as lessons were given on proper operation of hand brakes and, in some cases, shifters.

Many of the kids didn't know how to ride without training wheels, some had never ridden a bike at all. Since none of the bikes had training wheels, demonstrations were given on how to learn to ride a bike. One of us would get on a much too small bike and roll around with their feet off the pedals, extended like outriggers as it was explained that pedaling isn't the important part of riding a bike, it's the balancing and the steering. Once you can roll around without falling over and steer away from solid objects, that's when you can start pedaling. All the kids will likely remember is laughing at a 6' tall guy riding around on a 16" wheeled bike.

The kids were awesome, polite and super-cooperative, it made the event all the more fun. In Principal Michele O'Connell's lovely thank you letter she mentioned that one of The Holland School's core values is educating the "Whole Child", these kids already seem well on their way to becoming excellent human beings. Now that they have wheels they may reach their destination even faster.

Thanks to Julie Sneed for all her work coordinating on The Holland School end, this couldn't have happened without you. Thanks to Kevin Sweeney for coming out all three days to help out, you definitely went above and beyond the call of duty. Thanks to James Parsons and Samantha for their help as well. And thanks to the IBC service staff for prepping all those bikes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hillside School Bike Rodeo

The Bike Rodeo, absolutely one of the most fun events you can attend as a bike shop employee. These things are usually set up by the P.E. instructor at an elementary school, generally for 3rd graders. The idea is to get kids up to speed on bicycle safety and traffic laws. They are run through an obstacle course complete with mini-stop signs then given a test. If they pass, they are issued a license which allows them to ride their bike to school. It's impressive how many kids actually ride their bikes to school these days and it's definitely essential that they learn the rules of the road.

IBCer Adam Burns goes the extra mile,
fixing a flat so one of the kids can get out on the obstacle course on time.

Adam removes the bead and prepares to take the tube out.

Faster than a NASCAR tire swap, Adam has the wheel pumped up and back on the bike just in the nick of time.

The kids fill out the written portion of the test in crayon. It was amazing not only that most of them got the questions correct, but that they understood the test at all. The level of vocabulary words used in the questions was nutty.

Apparently blue water bottles are the best. They went way before the others. Next time we'll bring exclusively blue bottles.

One of the questions on the test pertained to which direction you ride on the road, with or against traffic. "What kind of question is that? Ride against traffic? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!". I guess the training worked on this guy.

Thanks to The Hillside School and Rob Tatro for putting this thing together. Encouraging kids to ride bikes is a great thing to do and you guys do an awesome job doing it!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

NEMBA Cutler Park Trail Day

Just a few words and photos from the recent trail day at Cutler Park.

We were a small but efficient crew, dropping about fifty new boards along the longest of the boardwalks which traverse the beautiful marshes in Cutler Park.

Like any good work crew we got down with some bagels and coffee beforehand. We were expecting some more folks to attend, so there was a huge surplus of food and beverages. Next time you should show up and help us eat all those bagels!

Hiking the the 2" X 12" Boards from the truck out to the boardwalk wasn't easy, Bryan uses his head to accomplish the task. Bob, Jason, and Linnea assess the condition of the existing boards, looking for rotten ones to replace. Bryan gets down to the dirty work of pulling up the old boards and nails.

Jason G. hefts the not-so-light boards all the way to down the end of the bridge. Amazing that this scene takes place within earshot of Route 128. Plug your ears and you could be in the middle of nowhere.

I demonstrated why you walk on the center of the boards, not the ends...just in case they aren't nailed down yet. Falling off the side of a bridge and having a board nearly come up and whack you in the face is so much funnier when The Three Stooges do it.

Bill "The Old Coot" Boles hikes out at the end of the day.

Culter Park really is an overlooked gem in the midst of Suburbia. You should come out on one of our Wednesday rides and see for yourself.
5:45, IBC Newton 71 Needham St. 617-527-0967, ask for Thom P.