the John Eaton Bike Swap was a success...

things started off with a scarily slow start
I thought it would be easier to gather bikes
the bikes did not present themselves

until... until...
after many people saying "yes... I have a bike" ...but not delivering... I had a bike
finally the first bicycle presented itself
an old friend
a guy I grew up with
someone I played soccer with as a boy
a person who I race on the same mountain bike team as an adult
this guy chris dropped off a bike... one of his daughter's old bikes
thanks chris
thanks for your donation


well... that several year old yet in solid shape 20 inch wheeled bike with gears made it no further than my six year old son
the fact that it is a purple girls bike did not dissuade my son from his desire to own and ride that bike

Grant told me that purple is the color of royalty...
yes... that bike is REGAL!

thanks again chris... that BICYCLE HAS BEEN RECYCLED
that bicycle is getting a second life
that bicycle is most definitely going to get ridden
in fact... it has been ridden nearly every day since the day it arrived at our house

after that first bike... things started to fall into place

hours on FREECYCLE and various community List Servs it started to come together
the FREECYCLERS know the system...

FREECYCLE is simple...
I have it... you want it... it is yours... it is on my front porch... swing by and grab it

so I did
one by one... then maybe two by two... it started to happen
old and crusty
disgustingly rusty
some bikes that looked that they may never roll again
while other bikes looked well worn but still together enough to ride another day

kid box store bikes in various states of disrepair

I had never run a Bike Swap-Bike Exchange before... in fact... I had never been to a Bike Swap-Bike Exchange before
I had no idea what to expect
I had no idea what I had gotten myself into

in the early planning process I had some email correspondence and no response from a few of the hosts from other Bike Swap_Bike Exchanges
in short... it works... people show up with bikes... people leave with bikes
I asked about the proper cushion or the needed reservoir of bikes
it was hard to believe that they had three or four bikes but found that it worked fine on its own

without knowing what to expect I was not sure how to "staff" the event
I put out the invite to a variety of people '
but nobody bit
it was short notice

luckily I had put in a request to Cargo Mike early in my planning process
to my luck Cargo Mike would be back from his Europe trip that included the European Cycle Messenger Championship
it was not confirmed that Cargo Mike would be available but when I found out he was stoked to lend his support... well... it was a relief that Cargo Mike would be contributing his skills as a wrench to the whole experience

at the last minute I tried to rally a few people
nothing surface
there were some empty promises
but nothing materialized

it all worked out

when Cargo Mike and I met up 15 minutes before noon it all started
I was still in my Brazil Ronaldino jersey from coaching my six year old son's last soccer game of the season
which of course involved handing out the trophies
I did not want to hand out the trophies then and there
I did not have time
but... I knew that all of the kids would want their trophies... so I brought the trophies

then... I could not help but be me
the extrovert
the shy extrovert

not sure why... but I felt compelled to say something to each child as I gave them a trophy
later my son Grant said exactly that... "you know... you did not need to say anything"
he was right... but I was curious
did he think I did not have to say anything about him or about all of the kids or each of the kids

I remember getting a personalized trophy after one season with my team as a boy
"hustler of the year"
which referred to my heart and not my dance step
that stuck with me

Grant and I spoke
it turns out that the spotlight made him shy
when I talked about him and said nice things about him it made him shy
but he told me that he liked it
I think I tried to give each kid on the team that emotion

all the while thinking... I need to get to the BIKE SWAP
I was also thinking... I wonder what I am going to say about the next kid
what was I going to say?
I did not know until I heard it myself
all I knew was there were 16 kids and 16 trophies
and I wanted each kid to feel special about earning that trophy

so... at the Eaton Bike Swap I had a change of clothes
rather than change I just got to work
a 24 Hours of Donner Pass apron was put over my sweat soaked soccer gear
it was so hectic that I did not even change from my cleated turf shoes into street shoes
I was too focused on getting people on bikes

Cargo Mike set up the repair stand and the tools in the shade
while I got a sun burn trying to get people on bikes
pogo sticks and endo boards were there to keep the kids entertained
the flow was amazing
people were dropping off bikes
people were leaving with bikes
some bikes needed more work than others

luckily I was able to clean up a number of the bikes in the days prior
that gave us an idea of what held air... what chains were in working condition... and what was ready to roll


there was so much CHAOS that I never hung my price lists
it was so hectic that I was never able to direct people to the SAFETY FLAGS or the handlebar mount BELLS
there was very little time to candy coat the exchange
it was an effort to get people in and out
get them directed to a bike that works

I had rushed out to The Family Bike Shop in Crofton to stock up on some TUBES... LUBE... DEGREASER... BELLS... TIRES... and SAFETY FLAGS

so much of that stuff did not get used... actually... we would have survived fine without that stuff
I was able to canibalize some bikes to get tires and tubes
then I already had some of the other stuff
now I have bells, safety flags, new tires, all sorts of tubes in my garage
oh well... maybe I will have to host another one of these Bike Swaps

I had water... gatorade... capri suns... and candy fruit snacks that I had intended to sell... alas... there was no time to display things such that people could see that we had something to help break the heat

oh man...
Cargo Mike was working at a sweat shop pace putting his totally pro mechanic skills to each bike that went into the stand
there was no time for him to come up for air
although I had two repair stands... there was no time for me to really put anything in the stand
I did my repairs and adjustments as quickly as possible bent over the diminutive bikes

I had brought an assortment of Calder-esque Bicycle Part Sculptures
those too never got displayed
there just was not time
no time for anything other than getting people on bikes

taking in bikes and sending out bikes
it was a bicycle revolving door

it is hard to say how many bikes rolled through our Bike Swap
my guess... it had to be at least 50 BIKES!
maybe more...
at the end of the day a few bikes remained

some of those bikes were quickly robbed of parts
before they were moved to the trash
other beaters that looked promising for those looking to get them tuned up were taken home
where I am currently trying to find the proper owner

one bicycle donations... a Dutch Bike... new... but still Dutch looks like a perfect bike for my older son's third grade teacher
I spent last evening removing the kids seat, putting the pedals on the proper cranks, and giving it a quick tune up
it is looking pretty sweet.... the generator light even works!
all I need to do is tighten the headset and this bicycle is going to help this teacher try to live CAR FREE


all sorts of scooters and trikes rolled out for 5 Bucks a piece...
a number of adult bikes were fixed and sent out... ah... family rides that could not previously happen will happen
and of course
kids bikes... kid bike upgrades
and all sorts of kids leaving with their "first two wheeler!"

yes... The John Eaton Bike Swap was a success
even with an understaffed two man band
it was lots of work.... several full days of preparation
lots of hours of internet effort
all sorts of cross town drives to pick up and shuttle used bikes around
glad I did it
glad it is behind me