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From bad brakes to good bikes

By on July 26, 2021 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments
Pierre Dawson at Hospitality House salvaging bikes for parts and to be repaired for kids.

By Rick Edwards

While walking into the Sure to Rise Bakery in Cashmere in 2015, local cycling enthusiast Pierre Dawson couldn’t help but notice that the kid’s bike leaning against the wall outside had brakes that were so out of adjustment that they couldn’t possibly work.

Stepping into the bakery, he asked the bike owner how well her brakes were working.

To Pierre’s surprise, she answered, “Fine.” It turns out she had been using her feet as the brakes — Fred Flintstone style.

After a follow-up visit by Pierre and his tools, the girl had a fully functional bike again and a smile on her face — and shoes that would last longer.

That got Pierre thinking that there were likely a lot of kids with bikes that needed repairs or adjustments to make them safer to ride — not to mention kids who wanted a bike and had no means to get one.

So, Pierre decided to host a community bike repair event in 2016, which was open to anyone who needed help. Donated bikes were also accepted, which were to be refurbished and given away.

The success of that event led to lots of discussions about starting a club to teach kids how to repair their own bikes and to help with refurbishing donated bikes.

Those discussions finally bore fruit with the creation of the Cashmere Middle School Bike Repair Club in fall of 2017, with Pierre as leader and teacher Jeff Cravens as faculty advisor.

Before the pandemic shutdown, the Club met every Thursday after school for an hour and a half, with up to 10 kids participating in each meeting and learning new skills. The Club refurbished and then gave away 65 bikes to people who needed one in both 2018 and 2019.

In July 2020, with an Owl Drug ice cream cone in hand, Pierre celebrated giving away the 200th refurbished bike.

He had to heat the axle nuts on that one with a torch to get them to turn freely to get the overhaul completed — serious measures are sometimes required.

The 2020 stock of donated bikes was given a big boost by a donation of 40 used bikes from Hospitality House (now Wenatchee Rescue Mission) last June. As of May 2021, the Club had given away a total of 212 bikes.

The Club held its first community bike repair/donation event of this year on April 3. That event saw about 10 bikes repaired and more than 15 donated.

In past years the Club held four such events each year: at the start of spring break, start of summer break, back to school time in the fall, and then again on Make a Difference Day in October.

If you are interested in helping the Club refurbish bikes, or if you have a bike that you would like to give to the Club for repair and donation, please contact Pierre Dawson at (509) 782-0565.

Help keep our young two-wheelers rolling — safely.

Rick Edwards is a retired USFS hydrologist, WSU Master Gardener and is on the Board of Advisors for Sustainable Wenatchee, a nonprofit that promotes a culture of environmental stewardship and social sustainability in the Wenatchee Valley.

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