Bikes for Humanity is proud and excited to announce our partnership with Water for Good in putting on the 2016 Portland Tour de Brew. This charity bike ride has helped raise funds in cities across the country for WFG’s efforts to provide clean water in the Central African Republic. This year’s event will equally benefit B4H, and is a great opportunity for us to keep the shop open and vital through the lean winter months.
We are five weeks out from the event and looking for help getting the word out and getting folks excited. We have 7 amazing local world-class breweries participating and hosting stops on the two rides.
This bike ride is important to me for a myriad of reasons. It has been fun to organize, meeting the brewers and designing the routes, and I am excited to co-lead it with the amazing volunteers who will be pitching in. More personally, this has allowed me to give back to an organization that has done so much for me.
Two years ago I was struggling to find my role in the Southeast Portland community, and to get by on $800 a month. Getting around on a bike made it possible, and a joy in the summer time. Transportation was free, empowering, and made me feel good and connected with my city. But the moment something went wrong I was vulnerable to who knows how much expense. In the past I had friends who showed me the basics of bike maintenance. My partner’s father took me through the step-by-step overhaul process of an early-90s Miyata I bought for $15 at a silent auction. Turning it into a resuscitated speed machine was one the most satisfying experiences of my life. But I had not found such a community since moving back to Portland in July of 1013. Until my partner signed me up for the Bikes for Humanity 10-week volunteer mechanics class.
Taking that initial class with the amazing Chris Nelson was an experience that was both accessible and enlightening. Oh so that’s why the bike does that when you do that! I found myself saying over and over again. The levels of complexity and diversity in the world of bicycles are daunting, as different eras, regions of the world, levels of quality create a universe of seemingly similar yet subtly different two-wheelers. Yet the VMC provided the framework to start to comprehend it, and volunteering at the shop and at external events provided the specific experiences to be able to confidently approach a bike and say, oh, your front hub is loose, let me fix that for you. Bikes for Humanity is a kind of language lab in which you are immersed in new vocabularies, words for things you didn’t know existed. Like learning a second language, being surrounded by native speakers excited about sharing their knowledge is critically important.
I am one of many Bikes for Humanity success stories. We have had UBI graduates looking to further their skills after finishing their program, and gone on to work in the bike industry. Mechanics who have moved into town looking to ingratiate themselves in the community, and doing so by volunteering and investing in their new adopted home. We have gone on to work at A Better Cycle, City Bikes, the Community Cycling Center, Sellwood Cycle Repair, and many more spots, including Go By Bike where I currently work full time.
We are not a nonprofit that survives off of grants, endowments, or professional fundraising campaigns. We are dedicated individuals who see the value of community service as its own reward. We look forward to riding bikes with you Saturday, September 17th!
<3 Andrew Shaw-Kitch, Bikes for Humanity board member