I had a great bike. It was a Marin hybrid that I bought in 2003. At the time, I basically knew how to get on a bike and ride in a straight line thanks to a bizarre childhood that did not include bike riding. Turns out that all new riders fall off their bikes regardless of age, the difference being that at 18-19 years old, I fell a lot harder. In that first summer of riding, I managed to crack open a helmet, tear up my hands (twice), remove a layer of skin from my shoulder and acquire permanent purple scars dotting my knees and elbows. The first time I went to the ER to make sure I didn’t have a concussion, but the second time I rode back home in a blood and toilet paper covered rage (I found a Port-o-Potty and wrapped the TP around my injuries to ride home). Somehow this didn’t stop me from continuing to ride – I enjoyed the exercise and it was a convenient way to get around Portland – although, admittedly I don’t think I will ever be as comfortable on a bike as my normally bicycle-abled friends. The bike also got beat up in these early years, but I got it regular tune ups and it continued to serve me well over time. Then the bike and I were unceremoniously broken up in New Haven when some asshat SAWED through my porch and stole my bike during my last semester at school. It still upsets me to think about it.
Fast-forward two years and I decided it was high time to find an alternate mode of transportation that didn’t involve my own two feet. However, cash was an issue and I also had no idea what I was looking for, other than the bike I used to have. That’s when someone told me about Free Cycles. I’ll let you browse their website, but the short-version of the story is that Free Cycles has a great program where you take a class, volunteer for four hours and then they help you build a bike for free! This idea appealed to me on a number of levels – community involvement, learning a new skill, DIY, etc. – so I decided to go for it. Stay tuned for the rest of the process!