WOW! Did I just do that?

I think when I came down from walking on the clouds, I may have actually said that audibly to the rest of the folks on the West Philly street corner. This feeling just came over me after I left the volunteer night for Gearing Up. Tonight was held at the neighborhood bikeworks which is alone amazing to me, but I really feel what is going up with Gearing Up is just out of this world!

From their website: “Gearing Up is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide women in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction with the skills, equipment, and guidance needed to safely ride a bicycle for exercise, transportation, and personal growth.”

My good friend Krisitn founded this program and is working her ass off for it. I am amazed by how much time she puts into this while still spanking most of her competition on the mountain bike and cyclocross circuits. Kristin set up a few nights at NBW where the women can work on the bikes that they are earning through their hard work. The women have to take bikes that most people would pass up and fix them on their own with a bit of guidance. There is no better way to learn than to work like this. Krisitn asked that some folks come out to help with some one on one time with the ladies.

I had my first day back to school today, which was mostly meetings and organizing a few things in my classroom and helping out the greenhorns. I ended up getting out a bit later than expected and headed straight to NBW. NBW is in the basement of an old church on the campus of UPenn. It has every bike part imaginable in probably the best organized shop I have ever been in. There are probably 6 work stands with color coordinated tools for each stand. There are other tools, solvents, parts, etc. all organized, labeled, and all over this huge room.

I walked in and got right to work with one of the ladies who was trying to put her chain back together. I jumped right in and taught her how to do it and included some of the tricks that I have learned along the way. She was so proud when the pin went through the chain and it pedaled through smoothly. I taught her how to fine tune her shifting and how to take care of the bike. I also got to work with some other woman on cutting housing to the right length and installing her cables. This is a skill that many mechanics do not even have, and now this woman who barely rides a bike knows exactly how to. There is real power in that.

Teaching cycling and bike maintenance is one of my favorite things to do. I actually think that is why I have stayed working in bike shops this long because it is not for the money. If I were to have my own shop, I would go out of business because I would teach all of my customers how to do their own repairs.

Teaching these women how to work on their bikes and seeing how excited they are about clean shifting and hard braking is so uplifting.

I called Kristin and let her know how amazing my experience was, and her message back to me said how nice the ladies thought I was and they hope I am coming back. This is huge for them, because many of them come from a background of domestic violence from men, so it makes me feel great that they are comfortable with me after just an hour or so of working on bikes.

Support gearing up in any way you can and enjoy some of the pics from NBW.

Kristin working on some brakes.

Kristin working on some brakes.

Organized chaos

Organized chaos

Organized small bits

Organized small bits

FORKS!

FORKS!

Where is the?

Where is the?

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