By: Tom Parker, Program Associate
As the child of a deceased father, I often find my dad in the people and places around me. It is this inherent, daily means of keeping him close to me and allowing the parts of him that I knew to continue to live. One way that I have done this since his death is by riding my bike. My dad’s bike was his only means of transportation for a large part of my life, and it often served as a tool to assure me of his love and commitment as a father. I remember as a kid, my dad taught me to ride my bike in the street, and we would take long rides to the budget movie theater to see some goofy action flick for a buck fifty. I can’t name a single film we saw, but I so vividly remember the rides. After my parents divorce, he would ride across town to see me as much as possible and continued to do so when I became an adult and lived even further away. We would then hop back on our bikes and ride to the park to play cribbage or walk by the river. My dad didn’t have much, but all the way into his 60’s he would use his bike as a means to reach me.
When I work shifts in our Open Shop space at C4C, I continually see little pieces of my dad: In the rigid mountain bike frames with duct tape-affixed bike lights and other “work with what you have” type semi-permanent fixes that most mechanics would chuckle at. I also see him? in the relationships that folks have with their bikes;this sense of friendship based on the sharing of personal space and the intimate time spent together in between, and on the way to, better remembered events. For isn’t the time spent in between destinations the most defining of our experiences, containing both the means and the will to get there in the first place?
These friendships, similar to the ones we have with one another, are not without disagreements. This is where C4C’s Open Shop comes into play. A bike used for daily transportation will undoubtedly require a substantial amount of maintenance and when this sort of care is not accessible to the rider, more serious and irksome injuries can occur. When the friend you rely on to get to work or school, to get groceries, or to go see your kids breaks down, it can cause a major strain on your quality of life. I am happy to say that our Open Shop space is a place that can help to remedy this ailment. Whether you have experience working on your bike or not, we will do our best to help you get it up and running by the time you leave. I frequently witness folks come in to Open Shop with a busted bike and a long list of problems, and leave with a running bike and a cohesive order of operations for which problems to work on next time. And people come back! It is such a joy to share space with someone who originally brought in a project that overwhelmed them but has since made actual headway on it and who can see the end in sight!
I feel a deep sense of pride to work somewhere that can provide these services and often let myself imagine how useful someone like my dad would find our space. There is always something new to be learned in Open Shop and our staff and dedicated volunteers are here to help!