2CB History Bike Clinic Lesson Trailer  Veteran 
Jul 19, 2021

Second Chance Bikes has been busy lately.

It's been a busy Summer, what with receiving/refurbishing/delivering bikes, doing a ton of yard work on our little acre of northern Illinois, and getting 11 kids properly enrolled and registered in school. But here are a few tidbits about the first leg of that 3-legged stool: We got some publicity via a FB group Mrs. 2CB belongs to. They support asylee families in need; one of them ID'd a family where a couple of bikes would mean a lot and mentioned it to the group; my wife told about http://SecondChanceBikes.org and we ended up supplying a couple. All good, but wait, there's more! This group is always looking for ways to help Word spread and we've received some 30-40 bikes from folks who just call or text and ask "where can I drop off..." So we've outfitted 3 refugee family groups 2 referred by World Relief, one is one I know personally through a friend of a friend , plus a Syrian college student referred by my Syrian friends. One of the requests was for not only bikes but trailers to take the little ones along on family outings. We provided 3 bikes and 2 trailers, a single and a double, so this family of 5 Burmese refugees can go for a family bike ride on the forest preserve trails near their house. That was followed closely by a request for a single mom and her 7 and 5 year-olds. I took six bikes, two options for each family member, so she could browse and shop for herself and her kids.

wreck described above is picturedsiz bicycles. 2 of each size

The morning after that delivery we got a request for bikes for two Afghan refugee boys, 10 and 11. Got one ready Sunday; three options to choose from for the second, just need to triage. I ·went to pick up a donated table for that FB group to furnish to one of their families; they saw the sign on my truck and said "can you use this?" referring to a big single-speed "cruiser" bike they had sitting in the garage. IDK if they saw me eyeing it or not. Today I delivered it to a group home for youth 14-18 yrs old; they contacted me several weeks ago asking if I had any bikes; they have 8 residents kind of isolated in a suburban neighborhood with no transportation. I gave them one; this makes two. 

Red Cruiser-style bicycle

Aug 14, 2021

I got a call from a guy living in the temporary housing provided by the local homelessness prevention NGO; I had fixed his 30+year old Trek last year; now it had another problem. I fixed that, also tuned it up, replaced brake shoes and a cable, fixed rear axle wobble. He told me last time when I delivered his bike that he had had it since he was a teen. I have no idea what his life story is, what he's been through to get where he is today, but that bike is to him what Trigger was to Roy Rogers. Today was a replay of last time. He mounted up, rode it around the parking lot, came back with a smile that just wouldn't stop. I know the feeling. He got on that bike and all those ensuing years melted away and he was that teen riding his new bike.

Tomorrow I will deliver this to a 13-yr old Syrian youth - his mom is a friend of friend of a friend of a friend. Word does get around! Who needs advertising? Aside from all that I've delivered a dozen bikes to the "free shopping" outlet that serves refugees and other families in need referred by churches or other NGOs. 

"Mongoose" brand bicycle

I always wanted to run my own business, but feared I would not make any money at it. Now both the dream and the fear have come true.

Aug 25, 2021

Today I had a pleasant experience. A woman who dropped off a donated bike last week told my wife via the FB group that her 5-yr-old was with her and asked why she picked up a donated bike and then just gave it to someone else. So she explained to him briefly what I do. He said he thought that was great, that he liked mechanical things like bikes, and he'd like to spend some time chatting with me (he's FIVE!). When I heard that I said I'd like to spend time chatting with a 5 yr old who says that! So it was set up for 2 pm today. Mom and Dad both came. All masked, as was I. I gave him a fist bump (Dad prompted him what to do) and said "I understand you want to be a mechanical engineer!" He said yes, and I told him I was one. Then on to the program I'd devised. I had a youth bike on the repair stand. lowered to his level, and my swivel/roller stool lowered to lowest position. Had him sit and we did triage on the bike on the rack. Pointed out defects (brakes, tires, wheel, pedals) , said what I'd do with them. I had a brake assembly from another kids bike I'd scrapped on a table by us, showed it to him let him mess with it. Then I told about fixing flat tires, had a youth-sized inner tube I'd put a pinhole in, pumped it up and had him water-test it to see if any leaks. He spotted the bubbles; I patched the leaks and we re-tested. I thought that was enough, was wrapping up when his dad said he wants to know what else you fix. Ok then, break out the hard stuff! I put that 21-speed Mongoose pictured above on the rack and demoed running through the gears showed him the differences in resistance and speed in highest vs,lowest. Mom spotted a 7-cog cassette on my workbench, picked it up to let him get a close look and feel. So then I wrapped up again. After they got him in the car Dad said "I know you did well because he wants to stay all day." For an old fart like me with no grandkids, this is pretty special. I feel like Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid, or Peter Falk in Princess Bride. 

I went back to work on the bike we inspected, interrupted to give the Mongoose to the Syrian kid whose cousin drove him here to pick it up. The wreck described above in the "lesson"  is pictured on the right, with new tires, straightened wheel, broken spoke replaced, front brake fixed, new pedals. And of course a bath with the pressure washer. It and the other in the picture go to the Afghan refugee 10 and 11 yr olds. A big THANK YOU to the donors of parts and accessories. These two bikes are from the 20-plus 20" youth bikes I collected from two police pounds last fall. The new tires were donated to support that effort. And of course cash donations pay for cable, inner tubes, pedals, etc. and some custom bike repair tools. 

2 youth bikes

Aug 28, 2021
Well, this story took an awkward turn. The caseworker declined to give me info to deliver the bikes directly to the clients, so I delivered them to the refugee agency office. They are not working onsite due to pandemic, and there was no one available to open the warehouse door. So I left the bikes at the door along with a lot of other unrelated donations someone else was unloading and texted her that they were there. She had told me she would deliver them the following day, and had asked me that morning when I could drop them off. I had texted back "in 20 minutes" so it seemed not unreasonable to leave them there, indoors, in the loading dock area for their sister agency to whom I also donate bikes. I made a point of telling the gentleman from that agency who was staffing their donations dropoff area that these were for the other group. I heard nothing further, texted the following week asking how the delivery had gone on Friday. She told me she looked all over but could not find the bikes. I later got an email from my primary contact there that the sister agency had misunderstood and thought the bikes were for them, had given them out to clients of their "free shopping" service. She clearly did not attempt to retrieve them Thursday, and on Friday a different volunteer staffs that location, so I can't blame them. Anyway, deserving kids got those bikes, but the two Afghan boys got stood up. Once I learned what happened I fixed up two more and told them I'd deliver; to have the client contact me. After no answer from two different people, I escalated it and contacted a more senior person who gave me the mom's phone number. I texted her introducing myself with a photo of the bikes and asked "do you want?" She said "yes" and sent a photo of an envelope addressed to her. I delivered them the next day.