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Volunteers store the refurbished bicycles in the adjacent cow barn. Nearly 100 shiny bikes ranging from tricycles to adult road bikes fill the main floor and the hayloft. The charity distributes bicycles throughout the year but gives out the most at Christmas time. In 2012, the group gave away more than 200 bicycles. This year, it easily will eclipse that number, organizers say.
The owner of Trailhead Cycling & Fitness in Champlin helps the group get hold of old bikes, sells them parts at wholesale prices and has taught the volunteers some basics of bike repair.
“They are retired gentlemen. Instead of sitting back, they are getting together and doing amazing things for people in need. It’s just the most inspiring thing,” said Trailhead owner Larry Saylor.
Saylor said customers often bring in old bikes in need of repair. Sometimes, when they learn a tune-up and repairs will cost nearly as much as a new bicycle, they leave the bike at the shop. Saylor said he feels good passing them on to Bikes4Kids.
“A lot of this stuff was probably going into the Dumpster, and these guys are working on it,” Saylor said.
Troy Wolens, owner of Pioneer Cycle in Blaine, also helps the charity collect donations and buy discounted parts.
“They do a lot of wonderful things for this community. No doubt, the people that are running it are really dedicated, sweet folks,” Wolens said.
And they do quality work, he said.
“The bikes they’re giving away are completely rehabbed. They are really nice bikes,” Wolens said.
Staff at the Emma B. Howe YMCA in Coon Rapids helps distribute some of the bicycles to younger kids at summer camp.
A potential lifeline
They also give bicycles to teens and young adults.
“For some of these young people, especially the homeless, it’s really been a lifeline,” said Casey Schleisman, YMCA community program director. “A lot of young people don’t have a mode of transportation.”
It isn’t just utilitarian, she said.
“A bike is more than a material item. It helps a young person develop confidence as they learn to ride it and self-esteem,” Schleisman said.
Shannon Prather • 612-673-4804