Monday, December 3, 2007

Volunteering at the Community Cycling Center

My co-worker Evan organized a group of us who know how to work on bikes to volunteer at the Community Cycling Center, for their Holiday Bike Drive. Most volunteers clean bikes. If they think you know what you are doing, you may wrench on the bikes. As these kids bikes are donated, many of them need a little (or a lot) of attention - they will be the first bike the recipients ever had. Remember your first bike? That's the feeling they want these kids to have. (mine, by the way, was a 20" red Ross.)

We did this as part of the United Way Day of Caring week. I've done volunteer time at both the Food Bank (bagging beans and rice) and CCC, and thought I'd go back to the CCC this year.

Co-worker Ian and I planned to ride over - yes it was across town, but we could skip the hill climb and subsequent steepish descent into town by hopping MAX, and getting off at Goose Hollow, riding through downtown, over the Broadway Bridge, thence making our way over to Williams, north on Williams, then zigzagging east and north to get to NE 17th and Alberta.

Ian, riding the MAX over the hill

The weather was, to not put too fine a point on it, bad. Heavy sideways rain, wind... I had wool everything on, so I'd stay warm once we quit riding. Ian had the same approach. We met at 11am, rode over to the Millikan Way MAX station (adjacent to the Tektronix campus), where I really did try to buy a ticket. First machine wasn't selling the ticket I wanted, second machine was not taking bills. Ian gave me a 2-zone ticket so I'd be legal, at least until the next stop. We got off at the Beaverton Transit Center and managed to buy a ticket there with a credit card, then hopped onto the next waiting train. Whew!

Off at Goose Hollow, then north through downtown, onto 14th, then Lovejoy, over the Broadway Bridge (just a BIT windy up there), and then following the above-mentioned route. Traffic was light, as it was midday. We arrived the at same time everyone else (who drove :-) )

Got the intro tour, paired up (I went with Evan - I have worked on bikes, I have built my own bike, I have majorly overhauled other of my bikes, but kid bikes are a bit different. I wanted a bit of guidance), and got started. Our first bike took a really long time - it needed new wheels altogether - we went into the basement and brought some up, but the hubs were not wide enough. I went back downstairs, and scored a set with red rims. This was a red bike, so it would look nice. Adjusted the crank. Installed one wheel; Evan did the other. Replaced the grips. It got a new chain and a replacement pedal for the missing one. Evan kept being called off to check everyone's work or offer advice.

We were working in an outside covered area, with a tarp roof and tarp walls that rolled down. The walls were lowered one by one, as the afternoon proceeded, and the rain got more sideways. We had to move our work stand - it was originally positioned under a major drip.

"This is not your bike. It won't ever ride as nicely as your bike. Given a choice between a loose hub/headset/bottom bracket, or a slightly tight, notchy one, go for the slightly tight. No one will ever adjust this bicycle again. Grease everything. Tighten down the bolts! Tight!"

Leif and Evan

After a lot of rummaging around for a rear reflector AND a nut/bolt combination that would hold it on (the bin labelled "bolt/nut pairs" lies. It has many bolts, some nuts, and they are not matched up :-) ), the bike was almost ready. Neal checked it over (everyone's work is checked by someone else. Neal and Evan had final checkout responsibilities, so Neal had to check Evan's work). Loose stem... Evan had to go find a cheater bar and really reef on it.

Evan still reefing on that stem

FINALLY that bike was ready. I celebrated by walking down to the coffeeshop and getting a mug of coffee and a muffin for Evan.

Evan: "did I tell you I was cursed? I end up with all the bikes that have complicated repairs and take forever."

We started in on bike #2. Evan got called away, so I adjusted the bottom bracket (Cool! Got to use a pin spanner!) to perfection. I declared the headset indexed, and after some tweaking, got it to behave as well. We removed the front and rear brakes (all the kids bikes leave with a coaster brake), then started in on the wheels. The rear hub was beyond sticky. Again, more adjusting, and it turned out very smooth. Smoother than I would have hoped, actually.

Bike Number Two

Starting to run out of time. We did manage to finish bike #2. Yay!

Ian, Scott and I prepared to leave. But no. Bleriot had a flat front tire. :-( Fortunately, I had it in a great location. We wheeled the bike INSIDE. (Warm. Dry.) I put it up on the stand and set to changing the tire. I wasn't putting the tire back on until the cause was found - the weather was awful, and I did not want to have another flat. Scott finally found a bit of glass. The mechanics all had to come look at my bike, of course.

That done, we headed out into the storm, aiming for the Rose Quarter Transit Center, on the east side, so we could get our bikes on the train before it was too crowded. I suppose I'd get used to in-town traffic, if I did it every day, but it was a little stressful. If it hadn't been raining sideways, it would have been better.

Long MAX ride to the Sunset Transit Center - power was out, so the train had to go slowly. That was fine, Ian, Scott and I chatted the entire way. Finally there. Carried my bike up all the steps, crossed over the highway, crossed Park Way, went to turn on my helmet light. Felt something fall down my arm. Half a block later, I looked in my rear view mirror. Oops. I walked back and forth along that half block stretch 4 times, before I finally found it. It was raining so hard that it was hard to see anything!

Whew. Down the hill, home, everything in the laundry.

More pictures here.


undees said...

Hey, I'm famous!

If they think you know what you are doing, you may wrench on the bikes.

Or, in my case, if I fake my way through and ask lots of questions, they let me wrench.

lynnef said...

that's why I recommended you pair with Bill :-)

beth h said...

The CCC does Great Stuff for kids. Good for you for offering your expertise and help!



Cecil Anne said...

My SECOND bike was a Ross.
My first bike was a blue Schwinn Breeze that I got for my 8th birthday. I rode it until I was 15, at which time my dad gave me the Ross, a battered old ten-speed he had found for $25 at a swap meet. It had a Brooks saddle! I rode that bike for 4 years, then traded it for an equally battered, but somewhat lighter weight Centurion (but kept the Brooksie . . .).

The Centurion made way for a Raliegh, which made way for a Peugeot, which made way (by being stolen) for a Schwinn (not a Breeze, though), which made way for a Cannondale, which made way for a Bianchi (although I still have the Cannondale) . . . . and soon Baby Bianchi will be giving way . . . .

(I am not counting the crappy Univega hybrid I had at the same time as Schwinn #2)