Let's Deliver Meals on Two Wheels!

Idaho Gives is this Thursday!  If you haven't heard, we're doing things a little differently this year.  Rather than asking folks to donate to BBP on that day, we're going to be highlighting the work of 12 non-profit partners who are working hard every day - often with little or no recognition - to make Boise a better place to live. 

Metro Meals on Wheels of the Treasure Valley is one of those organizations!  To highlight their work and help tell their story, we'll be delivering meals by bike this Thursday!  If you have time from 11am to 1pm, we'd love to have your help!  Sign up via this link!

Here's the program:  We'll meet at the Boise Senior Center on Robbins Rd. at 11am to pick up meals and select a route.  Most of the routes are in the central Boise area and require 4-6 miles of easy pedaling.  Some longer options may be available for those who want to ride farther.  We'll ride in teams of two with one volunteer towing a trailer loaded with meals.  Bring a trailer if you have one but we'll also have some to borrow.  We'll deliver nutritious meals and blow some seniors' minds when we roll up on bicycles! 

I hope you'll be able to join us for this super-rewarding volunteer experience!  Meals on Wheels is the lifeline that allows many of these seniors to live independently and stay in their own homes but they don't always get the recognition they deserve for all that hard work.  Let's help make a splash and tell their story this Thursday for Idaho Gives!  Sign up here!  Can't make it?  Help us spread the word and share this post!  Thanks so much for your support!

Volunteer Opportunities Blooming Across the Valley!

The spring season is in full bloom here at the Boise Bicycle Project and we've got Volunteer Opportunities popping up like wildflowers!  As we strive to become more mobile and efficient in 2016, we have a full calendar of community events that we'd love for you to be a part of!  Read on and follow the links to find out more! 

Our Riding to Raise the Roof (#RtRtR) fundraising campaign got off to a great start this April but we'll need your help to stay on track as we head into May!  We have a handful of ways for you to help us spread the word, keep stoking the fire and have a great time doing it! 

Idaho Walk-Bike Summit: Boise Centre - Thursday & Friday, May 12-13

Summer Kickoff Party at Whole Foods - Saturday, May 21 (Details TBD. Watch for Updates!)

Capitol City Public Market: 8th and Jefferson - Saturday, May 21

In the wake of yet another near-fatal crash involving a child on a bike, we're working hard to promote our upcoming safety classes for kids.  We'd love to have your help in our efforts to educate our youth and help them learn safe riding skills! 

Mobile Kids Fix-It: Garden City Boys & Girls Club - Thursday, Apr. 28

#RtRtR Bike-A-Thon Safety Class:  BBP Headquarters - Saturday, Apr. 30

Kids BASH (Bike giveaway And Safety Hour): BBP Headquarters - Saturday, May 14

We're really excited about all these opportunities to make Boise a better place to live and ride!  If you have questions about any of these events or volunteering in general, email ryan@boisebicycleproject.org.  Thanks so much for your help and support!  We couldn't do it without you!

 

BBP's Saturday Market Debut!

I'm pleased to announce that the Boise Bicycle Project will be making its debut appearance at the Capitol City Public Market this Saturday, April 16!  Our staff and volunteers will spread the word and answer questions about BBP's services and programs to a wider audience, distribute information and accept donations while helping market-goers park their bikes! 

This is a great opportunity for volunteers who are interested in helping spread BBP's impact across the community, meet some new people and have a great time doing it!  We'll be hosting our information and donation booth every third Saturday from April through October and would love to have your help!  View available shifts and sign up via this link

This Saturday, we'll be highlighting the Riding to Raise the Roof capital campaign and especially the Bike-A-Thon component!  We have a lofty fundraising goal to meet and are counting on grassroots support from all across the community, so this will be a great chance to reach out to folks outside the shop's walls and get them involved!

Whether you help out as a volunteer or just stop by to say hello, I hope to see you down at the Capitol City Public Market on 8th Street this Saturday!  Questions?  Not sure how you can help with the Market or capital campaign?  Email ryan@boisebicycleproject.org!  Thanks for your help and support!

Kids BASH Season is Here!

All the signs are there: wildflowers in the foothills, traffic on the Greenbelt, rivers swollen with spring runoff, shorts and t-shirts coming out of the drawers!  The weather is here and the time is right!  Let's get some kids on bikes!  Our volunteers and participants in the Shifting Gears program have been doing a great job getting kids bikes ready to ride.  We have 31 kiddos registered and now it is time to get them pedaling! 

Our very first Kids BASH of 2016 is this Saturday, April 9!  Nothing brings a volunteer's work full-circle like seeing a young rider pedal away on a bike you repaired!  If you've never assisted with a Kids BASH before, now is a great time to get involved! 

Volunteer shifts start at 9:30 and end at 11:30.  Volunteers' main role is to ensure that every participant has a great time and leaves with a big smile in addition to their new ride and safety skills!  Previous experience fitting helmets and bikes or with our kids safety classes is helpful but not required.  Our certified instructors will be on hand to lead the way.  Ready to sign up?  Follow this link to view available jobs and sign up. 

I can't think of a better way to start the weekend than helping some new pedalers get started on the right foot, so I hope you'll come down to the shop this Saturday morning and help us make some magic happen! 

Treefort is Coming! Let's Park Some Bikes!

It feels like spring in Boise already and the return of the annual Treefort Music Festival is a sure sign that winter is coming to a close!  Last year we parked over 1,000 bikes, encouraged Treefort fans to use pedal power when traveling from show to show and made some great new friends!  Hopefully you'll be able to join us for the good times this year!

The plan is basically the same as last year: park bikes using BBP's bike racks and bottle-cap tagging system, answer questions about BBP's services and programs, make friends, share smiles and spread the bike love!  There are some details that will be a little different for 2016, so read on to get the low-down. 

The biggest change is that BBP Volunteers are essentially Treefort Volunteers this go-round.  That means we play by the same rules and get the same benefits as all other festival volunteers.  Fair and equitable, right?  You're probably wondering, "Do I get a free Treefort Pass?"  Well, I'm glad you asked! 

Volunteers who work at least 3 shifts (approx. 3 hours each) are eligible to purchase a 5-Day Pass for $30 and receive a Treefort Volunteer t-shirt. 

If you would like to participate in the Pass and Shirt deal, choose your three shifts via the links below.  You may purchase your pass and pick up your t-shirt at the Treefort Box Office during special volunteer-only hours the week before the Festival. 

Here's a link to Treefort's Volunteer Page for more information.  Questions?  Email ryan@boisebicycleproject.org and I'll do my best to help. 

Don't care about the pass and shirt deal?  That's cool.  Volunteering is its own reward, right?  Sign up for whatever shifts you like.  We're stoked to have your help either way! 

Ready to do this thing?!  All right, let's make it happen!  There are two signup pages below; one for general Bike Valet shifts, one for Shift Leaders, Setup & Teardown.  Anyone who is able to work on their feet and lift bikes into our racks should feel free to sign up for the Bike Valet.  Shift Leaders will assign volunteers roles in the Bike Valet and ensure things run smoothly, so previous Bike Valet experience is a must. 

Sign up for Bike Valet shifts

Sign up for Shift Leader, Setup/Teardown shifts

Questions?  Concerns?  Call the shop or email ryan@boisebicycleproject.org and I'll be happy to help any way I can!  Thanks in advance for helping make this year's Treefort Music Fest the most bike-friendly yet! 

Kids Fix-It Night and Why It Matters

Kids Fix-It Night:    Thursday, Feb. 18.    6-8pm

Thursday night, we will open the doors of our regular Volunteer Night for an evening of no-charge, volunteer-assisted kids bike repair.  Many of the kids who receive a bike in one of our giveaways don't have access to the tools, parts or supplies needed to keep their bikes rolling.  Our volunteers will fix lots of flats, replace heaps of bald tires, lube miles of squeaky chain and pass out a limitless number of high-fives!  This may sound like trivial work to some.  Let me assure you that it is not. 

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Many of these kids have endured some very difficult circumstances.  A significant number of them come from refugee families.  It is hard to imagine the hardship they may have seen in their young lives.  For each of those kids, their bicycle is a potential source of joy, empowerment and freedom.  It is a complete good.  If you're reading this, you probably already understand the power of the bicycle.  These Kids Fix-It Nights are a unique opportunity to share that understanding with some kids who may never grasp it otherwise.  That is a big freaking deal.

There is a great deal of negativity at large in the world right now, maybe more than ever.  In times like these we must redouble our efforts to work for what is good and right rather than fighting or denying what is bad or evil.  I'm reminded of David Oates' 2009 essay, "What We Love Will Save Us," where he writes,

"We must stand on what we love - live it, be it and bring it. And not waste time in the other direction, preaching up devil and denunciation."

At the BBP, we stand on our love of the bicycle and what it can do for us, individually and as a society.  We can only keep moving forward, pushing for a better future.  Energy expended in anger is wasted.  It robs momentum from the movement towards the "right and beautiful world" that we want for our children.  To quote Oates again,

"We don't need so much to counter other people's errors as to bring the joy of that right and beautiful world: what we desire for our planet and ourselves. What we are doing instead of hating and denying and bombing."

We've got to "bring the joy" ourselves.  We can't expect anyone else to do it for us.  We're not going to absorb it from the news or the entertainments that distract us.  We have to find it within ourselves and our communities.  Once we plant the seed, it continues to grow.  We just have to nourish it.  How do we do that?

"Our job is to work on what we love. Daily. In detail. With precision and determination."

This is our job.  This what we do every day at the BBP and I'm glad you're a part of it.  387 kids received a bicycle, helmet, light set, lock and safety class at our 2015 Christmas Kids Bike Giveaway.  Every one of those bicycles could be the gift that transforms that young person's life.  Heck, if we do our job right that bike can be passed down from kid to kid, ad-infinitum until the wheels come off!  Consider the impact those 387 bikes can have!  Now we have to keep them on the road!

If you want to remind yourself what that impact looks like, come down to the shop tomorrow night and help us make the world a better place.  Thanks for reading.

-Ryan

We Want to Hear From You!

If you've been following our newsletters, social media or attended our Annual Member's Meeting, you've heard about some of the schemes and plans we have for 2016.  We're really excited about all these big changes and hope you are too!  However, this is a two-way street and we've got to keep the communication flowing!  We want to make sure BBP is sailing in the right direction!

I'm always happy to hear ideas and feedback from our Volunteers.  However, now is the time to make important course corrections before we head into another busy spring!  We have two great opportunities to share your perspective; our Volunteer Survey and our Annual Volunteers' Meeting

BBP's 2016 Volunteer Survey is live!  Follow this link to provide your feedback and share your experience!  Whether you're a BBP old-timer, just attended your first orientation or have never volunteered before, your perspective is valuable and I want to hear what you have to say!  The survey should take 10 minutes or less and will be exceptionally helpful in our efforts to build a stronger Volunteer Program. 

Our Annual Volunteers' Meeting is Thursday, February 4 at 6:30pm.  This will be a great opportunity to celebrate 2015's successes and look ahead to the new year.  We will have lots of space for discussion and brainstorming, so bring those big ideas!  Oh, and Whole Foods will be providing fresh, hot pizza! 

Over the last year, I've been blown away by the impact that a group of passionate, empowered volunteers can have.  I can't wait to see what we can accomplish together in 2016 and hope you'll be along for the ride! 

A Prost to Volunteering: 2015 Christmas Kids Bike Giveaway

I don't usually read much into happenstance occurrences.  I’m not a big believer in omens, signs or prophecies but every now and then circumstances coincide in a way that makes me stop and think.   

Let’s turn the clock back two weeks to Friday night, December 11.  After a long, challenging day (at the end of a long, challenging week) preparing for our monumental 2015 Christmas Kids Bike Giveaway, I pedaled my rusty old city bike up our soggy driveway.  After unpacking my spare clothes, lunch containers and other detritus from my handlebar bag I carried a well-earned six-pack of Oregon brews inside.  Cheddar (the dog) wagged his tail and whined excitedly at my arrival as I set the cardboard carrier of longnecks on the kitchen counter.

The beer aficionados among you will be familiar with many breweries' practice of sneaking messages or images into the underside of their bottle caps.  They are sometimes snarky and sometimes genuine, sometimes creative and sometimes bland but always a ploy to entice you to open another and see what lies underneath.  In this case, I was far more excited about the contents than the cap but was taken aback by the poignant message revealed when I popped the top off my winter ale: "A Prost to: Volunteering."

"Late Crew" Volunteers on Friday Night, Ready for Saturday Morning!

"Late Crew" Volunteers on Friday Night, Ready for Saturday Morning!

Fast forward 10 days.  Here we sit, basking in the afterglow of Saturday’s success.  It is my great pleasure to offer up a hearty Prost! (German for "cheers" or "toast") to our volunteers who worked tirelessly since the first of October preparing for this one big day.  Even after two solid months, they showed no sign of slowing down.  If anything, they pushed up the pace even harder through the last two weeks right until we closed the doors Saturday afternoon.  It was all I could do to tuck into the slipstream and fight to hang on!  December 19 was absolutely the most rewarding day of my life and I have BBP’s volunteers, supporters and staff to thank for the experience.  I'm still a little amazed that we pulled it off!

Friday Night: 400+ Bikes Ready for Adoption.

Friday Night: 400+ Bikes Ready for Adoption.

On Saturday, December 19, the Boise Bicycle Project provided 387 Treasure Valley kids with a bicycle, safety lesson, lights, lock and helmet at no cost to them.  The kids and families who received these things may not be paying for them but I'll assure you that they are not free.  This life-changing event was paid for by the hard work of BBP's volunteers and the incredible efforts of this entire community.  I’ve been truly humbled by the outpouring of support over these last two weeks and feel so honored to have been part of the effort. 

Saturday Afternoon: An (almost) Empty Room!  387 bikes gone to new homes.

Saturday Afternoon: An (almost) Empty Room!  387 bikes gone to new homes.

Our staff bust their butts to anchor the BBP’s efforts but the people who made this Christmas Kids Bike Giveaway possible aren't getting paid.  The folks in the photo below (and hundreds more not pictured) are the ones who accomplished this.  It isn't their "job" to repair 40 (or more) bikes per week over these last ten weeks.  It isn't their "job" to patch hundreds of punctured tubes, replace innumerable skidded-out tires, shredded seats and torn grips.  It isn’t their “job” to go the extra mile to give kids a dream bike that will blow their minds.  It isn’t their “job” to stay up late baking treats for kids they may never meet.  It isn't their "job" to call registered families to confirm appointments and answer tough questions.  It isn't their "job" to criss-cross the Valley in search of bicycles to donate.  It isn't their "job" to cross 387 names off the registration sheet, fit 387 helmets, affix 387 sets of lights, adjust 387 seats and handlebars, or to guide 387 youngsters through a bike safety lesson.  It isn't their "job" to share their joy, cheer and generous spirit with all those kids and families but they do it anyway. 

Saturday Volunteer Crew, Ready to Make Magic Happen!

Saturday Volunteer Crew, Ready to Make Magic Happen!

Ever since I started at the BBP I've been impressed by the desire, resolve and selflessness that our volunteers display.  I've been truly blown away through this fall and winter.  The amount of time, energy and care expended over this two-month process by so many people has been staggering.  Frankly, sometimes I have a tough time understanding what motivates those people to go to such great lengths.  Then I realize that they just get it.  They believe in the power of the bicycle.  They understand what a safe, well adjusted and properly fitted bicycle can do for a young person.  They understand the sense of freedom and self-reliance that it can engender.  They know what that felt like for them and want to share it with others.  It is this shared understanding and sense of purpose that enables this community to accomplish such great things. 

A First-Time Rider with Chief Bones!

A First-Time Rider with Chief Bones!

In a recent conversation, I realized that this entire process is a lot like a massive rope swing into a tree-lined swimming hole.  For the first two months, we were climbing the tree.  It was hard work, a little scary at times but we knew we were climbing toward something special and had our friends there to encourage us.  When we couldn’t climb any higher we reached out and took hold of the handle, gauged the distance, took a deep breath and firmed up our grip.  These last two weeks were the swing.  They required a leap of faith and healthy confidence but once our feet left the platform and momentum built there was no stopping us.  All we had to do was hang on and prepare for the release.  This past Saturday, we let go of the handle and our timing was perfect.  We felt the thrill of weightlessness as we hung in the air, suspended before splashdown, holding our breath.  The plunge was over before we knew it and we have just now floated back to the surface, exhaled, looked around and realized what happened.  

The impact created on Saturday is still rippling out, sending a wave of love through this community and beyond.  THANK YOU to everyone who made this possible.  You know who you are.  Love the World.

-Ryan

LOVE THE WORLD!  Nuff Said.

LOVE THE WORLD!  Nuff Said.

Join the Kids Bike First Responders!

Our annual Christmas Kids Bike Giveaway is on Saturday, December 19, less than two months away!  Our goal is to give away 300 bikes on that one day, so we've got our work cut out for us!  The Volunteer Crew has done an impressive job getting bikes serviced and ready for our Kids BASHes throughout the summer but now we've got to elevate our game.  We have under eight weeks to repair at least 325 bikes and meet the demand!  That adds up to about 40 bikes per week!  To stay on pace and hit that target, we're going to need the Kids Bike Repair machine running at maximum capacity! 

Volunteer mechanics rocking on some kids bikes at Volunteer Night (Tue. & Thur., 6-8pm).

Volunteer mechanics rocking on some kids bikes at Volunteer Night (Tue. & Thur., 6-8pm).

To this end, we are recruiting a group of elite volunteer mechanics to ensure that each bike is repaired accurately and efficiently.  The members of this crack team will be known as Kids Bike First Responders and will anchor our efforts in preparing bikes for the Christmas Giveaway.  Strong mechanical skills, keen attention to detail and a sense of pride in your work are key qualities that all applicants should have.

Ready to join the team?  All you have to do is pass the test!  Repair two bikes (one with a singlespeed coaster brake, one with derailleur and hand brakes) within the allotted time.  We'll check your work and deduct points for each missed step or inaccurate adjustment.  The passing score is 80%, so the stakes are pretty high!  If you successfully complete the certification you'll earn the title of Kids Bike First Responder and the KBFR Badge to wear on your shop apron or nametag. 

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Think you're ready for the challenge?  Take a look at the Kids Bike First Responder Testing Form by clicking the link.  Be sure you're familiar with all the terms, tools and techniques listed next to each check-box.  Once you're ready, come down to the shop during Volunteer Night (Tue & Thurs, 6-8pm) or during open shop time.  Select your test bike, we'll start the clock and turn you loose to give it your best shot! 

I'm excited to build a team of elite Volunteer Mechanics who can help maintain and elevate BBP's standards of quality, assist with training of newer volunteers and be recognized for their contribution.  I hope you're ready to pass the test and join the First Responders!

In the meantime, keep those wrenches turning and thanks for reading!

-Ryan

Idaho High School Mountain Biking State Championships: This Weekend at Avimor!

The inaugural season of interscholastic Mountain Biking here in Idaho has been a triumphant success by any measure, but the Avimor Avenger State Championship this weekend is an event not to be missed!  The folks behind the new Idaho High School Cycling League have been working hard to get this awesome program up and running.  Now it is up to us to show our support for the organizers and participants! 

Racing kicks off tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 17) at 9:30am and continues into the early afternoon.  It should be a beautiful day for a bike race!  There are several volunteer slots still open, so I hope you'll make time to pitch in and create a memorable, inspiring experience for all the young competitors.  View available shifts and sign up at:  http://www.idahomtb.org/volunteer/.  Regardless, this will be a very spectator-friendly venue so head on up to Avimor to cheer on the young riders! 

Also, we were excited to learn that professional mountain bike racer Rebecca Rusch has added the race weekend to her SRAM Gold Rusch Tour.  She’ll be pre-riding the course with the kids on Friday afternoon and helping with some evening festivities.  She'll also be doing call-ups at the start of each wave on Saturday and sweeping each race.  It will be a fun event to be part of!  Rebecca is an amazing athlete and stellar role model for young riders, so the League is stoked to have her support!

However you do it, I hope you'll show your support for interscholastic mountain biking here in Idaho!  This season is just the beginning of a program that will expose innumerable kids to the fun and excitement of riding bikes; something we can all get behind.  The skills, fitness, confidence, friendships and camaraderie that the participants will build through mountain biking will stick with them long after the race is over.  It is up to us to build a successful High School Mountain Biking program that will help them find those things.  See you at the races!

Your 2015 Volunteer of the Year: Leonard Lake!

I've got to admit, it isn't easy to single out one individual as the Boise Bicycle Project's Volunteer of the Year.  The beauty of our volunteer program is that everyone contributes in their own way and the variety of approaches is what makes the whole thing work.  Even if our Volunteer Corps was made up entirely of Clancy Anderson or Bonnie Holtzclaw clones, we'd be missing something in a lack of diversity.  It really does take a village to push this organization forward and keep making progress toward our goals.  However, the BBP and Boise are small enough that one person's efforts can make an immediate, noticeable difference. 

I asked the BBP's staff, volunteers, members and board for their Volunteer of the Year nominations this year.  I can't be everywhere at once and don't always see the extra effort that our volunteers are making, especially during big events like Tour de Fat.  Nominations ranged widely and every one of the folks who were nominated could have taken home the award.  However, when Lucky Kelley (BBP Member #3 and former VOTY) makes a nomination it carries a substantial extra weight.  In Lucky's words, "it is time to recognize all that he has done for us."

Leonard Lake accepting the 2015 BBP Volunteer of the Year Award on Thursday, October 8. 

Leonard Lake accepting the 2015 BBP Volunteer of the Year Award on Thursday, October 8. 

Leonard has been stacking up an impressive record since he started volunteering back in 2011.  He is one of our most consistent volunteer mechanics and is a huge asset with BBP's special events, year after year.  However, this isn't a lifetime achievement award.  Leonard is one of a handful of volunteers who does it all and he really covered the bases in 2015.  He'll pop into the occasional volunteer night but gets most of his wrenching done during his regular Friday shop shifts.  Leonard always arrives with a smile, ready to get it done.  He doesn't mind tackling the tough jobs and I know his bikes will be rock solid.  

Leonard doubles down on his volunteer efforts during special event season, though he won't often be found in the spotlight.  Much of what he does happens behind the scenes, tackling the crucial setup and teardown shifts along with other critical but less glamorous jobs.  He has also become a pro at operating our Bike Valet Parking for Tour de Fat, the Treefort Music Festival and other events.  The organizational skills required to park and retrieve a few thousand bikes in an orderly fashion don't exactly grow on trees and I'm always stoked to see Leonard's name next to a Bike Valet shift!

I could go on singing his praises but the purpose of all this is to say thank you.  So Thank You, Leonard for all that you've done and all you continue to do for the BBP.  Thanks to everyone who nominated their Volunteer of the Year; I truly value your input.  Of course, a hearty thanks to all of the volunteers who give so much of their time and talent to make Boise a better place.  You guys are the chain that keeps cranking the BBP forward! 

Thanks for reading!

-Ryan

The October Kids BASH Needs You!

Our final Kids BASH of the year is this weekend and we need your help!  We have an extra-large group signed up for the bike giveaway and safety class, perhaps due to an elevated level of attention after Max Wyatt was struck by a van on his ride home from school late last month.  We're working hard to create positive change in the wake of that horrible crash and this event is part of that mission.

When a child receives a bike in one of our giveaways, they also participate in a Bike Safety Class.  We want to make sure that they're leaving with much more than just a free bicycle.  We want them to leave the Kids BASH with the skills and tools they need to be safe and have fun on their new bicycle.  This is just one component of our effort to make our streets safer for everyone, regardless of their transportation mode. 

If you want to help us make a difference in our community and enrich the lives of a group of awesome kids, sign up to volunteer at this Saturday's event.  Volunteer shifts run from 9:45 to 11:15am.  We need your help fitting bikes and helmets to their new riders in addition to the setup and execution of our Bike Safety Class.  Staff mechanics and certified instructors will be on hand to provide guidance, so no experience is necessary.

If you've never volunteered at one of our Kids Bike Giveaways, this is a great opportunity to see the impact you can have working on kids bikes and the meaning that bike has for its rider.  By helping us create these positive early cycling experiences, you are truly changing these kids' lives for the better.  What more can you ask for on a Saturday morning?!  I hope you'll join us and help make Boise a better place to ride a bike. 

Nominate your Volunteer of the Year!

Our 8th Anniversary and Volunteer Appreciation Party is this weekend!  Every year at this time, we hand out an award to recognize the Boise Bicycle Project's Volunteer of the Year.  I feel incredibly fortunate to work with such an amazing group of people here at the BBP and can think of several volunteers who have made exceptional contributions this year.  However, I can't be everywhere at once and don't always see the amazing things our volunteers do to make a difference in this community.  So, I'm asking for your help to select our Volunteer of the Year! 

If you're a BBP member, volunteer or board member, I want to hear your voice!  Submit your nomination via this form and let me know who you think should be honored as Volunteer of the Year!  The criteria are intentionally broad and leave lots of room for interpretation, so be sure to let me know what your nominee has done that sets them apart. 

I hope you'll join us this Saturday to celebrate the last 8 years of hard work and collaboration.  We've made some huge strides forward in that time and have some big schemes for the future!  The party kicks off at BBP at 6:30 and continues with a group ride to the WaterCooler where the festivities will really get underway.  You can purchase your tickets in advance on our website and skip the line on Saturday! 


Support Scholastic Mountain Biking in Idaho!

The first season of interscholastic mountain biking in Idaho is off and running!  Each of the first two rounds of the four-race season have hosted over 200 student riders from all over the state.  Expectations are high for the final two races: Eagle Bike Park on Oct.3 and the Avimor State Championships on Oct. 17.

In order for these races to be successful, the Idaho High School Cycling League needs your help!  Around 75 volunteers pitch in to make each race happen!  Volunteer shifts are available Friday, Saturday and Sunday of each race weekend, so it should be easy to find a fun, rewarding job that suits your schedule! 

You can view available shifts and sign up via VolunteerSpot at http://www.idahomtb.org/volunteer/.  The IHSCL's goal is to get more kids riding bikes, both for recreation and transportation.  This ties in directly with the BBP's mission and we want to be supportive in any way we can!

League Co-Director, Jessica Gradhandt says she's been amazed at "how incredibly inspiring and impressive these races are....  Most of the kids out there are riding and racing for the very first time. Some Treasure Valley kids had only ridden the greenbelt 3 times... and ride on a donated bike. It’s awesome!

I hope you'll be able to lend your volunteer support to this awesome organization and help build the future of cycling in Idaho!  Learn more at the volunteer page on the League's website.  Still have questions?   Email volunteer@idahomtb.org.  See you at the races!

-Ryan

 

 

 

This Thursday: Kids Fix-It Night!

Thursday, September 22:  6-8pm

On the third Thursday of every month, we open up Volunteer Night for a night of free, volunteer-assisted kids bike repair!  Many of the kids who receive a bike in one of our giveaways don't have access to the tools and supplies they need to keep their bikes on the road, so our Kids Fix-It Nights are their opportunity to fix flat tires, lube chains and learn some basic repair skills. 

Of course, this event couldn't happen without our volunteers!  If you enjoy working on kids bikes and want to make a direct connection with the kids who benefit from our youth programs, this is the place to be!  It is easy to see the difference you're making when you're able to share a smile and high five with a young rider before they ride away on their freshly repaired bike!

Any questions about the Fix-It Night and what it entails?  Give me a call at the shop or shoot me an email!  Regardless, I'll hope to see you down at the shop this Thursday!

-Ryan

Making magic happen at the October '15 Kids Fix-It Night.

Making magic happen at the October '15 Kids Fix-It Night.

The Kids BASH Needs You!

Fall is definitely here but our Kids BASH season continues this Saturday, September 12!  18 awesome young people signed up to receive a bicycle, helmet and participate in our safety class and we need your help to make this event a success! 

Maintaining order and organization while giving out free bicycles to kids is no small task, so we really count on volunteers to help the process go smoothly.  Sign up as a Helmet & Bike Fitter if you want to help make it happen and get lots of high fives!

We also need help setting up our parking lot safety course and putting participants through a set of drills to teach bike control, awareness and road rules.  Sign up as a Safety Class Instructor to help our League-Certified staff conduct a fun and informative session!   

Volunteer shifts start at 9:30am to allow prep time before the event starts at 10:00.  The giveaway and safety class typically wrap by 11 but plan to stay until 11:30 just in case things run long.  Depending on the age and ability of attendees, we may also take a longer ride around the neighborhood to practice skills in a real-world setting so bring your bike and helmet!

Participants in the October Kids BASH take some time out for a photo with Stanley.

Participants in the October Kids BASH take some time out for a photo with Stanley.

More into turning wrenches than working with kids?  We're almost finished preparing the bikes for this session but have some gaps still to fill.  We'd love to have your help getting the last few bikes ready to ride during Volunteer Nights this week, so come on down Tuesday and Thursday, 6-8pm! 

Regardless of how you pitch in, it is our volunteers that make these recurring bike giveaways possible.  Many of these kids might never own a bicycle if not for the Kids BASH program, so this is one way that we are able to make a huge difference in each of their lives.  Thank YOU for making that a reality! 

September Volunteer Opportunities: Branching Out!

All the signs are here.  The kids are back in school, days are getting shorter, air is getting cooler, Tour de Fat has come and gone.  Summertime is coming to an end and our main event season with it.  However, there are still tons of opportunities to make a difference in your community through volunteering with the BBP or some of the other non-profits working to make Boise a better place!  Read on to learn more:

Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities

Boise Bicycle Project:  September Kids BASH!  Saturday, Sept. 12, 10:00am

Our monthly Kids BASH is back!  This event is part bike giveaway, part safety class and we'd love to have your help in creating positive early cycling experiences for these kids!  Sign up via the link above if you want to get your weekend started on a high note!

Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance:  September Bike Counts - September 15-17

The fourth annual September bicycle counts are right around the corner! This project has been growing strong and steady thanks to the 70-80 volunteers who help out each May and September.  The data collected from permanent counter locations, the Strava database and our volunteer counts will all be combined and analyzed to get a full picture of bicycling in the Treasure Valley.   Signup to volunteer for TVCA's September bike counts via the link above and help make the case for better bicycle infrastructure!

Boise Parks and Rec AdVenture Program:  Adaptive Bike Rides - Sept. 15-Oct. 20

The fall Adaptive Biking season is about to start!  The good people at AdVenture would love to have your help providing recreational opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities!  They typically need volunteers to ride along with a participant to help remind them of safety and help them have a fun and successful trip.  A schedule of adaptive bike rides is listed below.  Contact Sonya at SBuchholz@cityofboise.org to sign up. 

Adaptive Bike Rides: Municipal Park              

  • Tuesday, Sept. 15                    5:30-7 p.m.     
  • Thursday, Sept. 17                  5:30-7 p.m.     
  • Tuesday, Sept. 22                    5:30-7 p.m.     
  • Tuesday, Sept. 29                    5-6:30 p.m.     
  • Wednesday, Oct. 7                  5-6:30 p.m.     
  • Thursday, Oct. 15                    5-6:30 p.m.     
  • Tuesday, Oct. 20                     5-6:30 p.m.     

We hope you'll support our community partners with your volunteer efforts!  Of course, we're always happy to have your help at our regular Volunteer Nights as well!  Enjoy the cooling fall weather and we'll see you in the shop or out on the bike again soon!

Tailwinds,

Ryan

Volunteer Orientation TONIGHT!

Wow, how August flew by!  It is hard to believe that it is already time for September's New Volunteer Orientation!  Our Volunteer Orientation signup form was out of commission until recently as our website underwent its overhaul, so I hope we'll still have a solid group of new Volunteers in the shop tonight!  If you have been unable to register, don't let that keep you away!  Come on down to the shop tonight at 6pm for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Boise Bicycle Project and to learn how you can participate as a volunteer!

With Summertime craziness behind us, school back in session, Kids BASH season still in full swing and the Christmas Kids Bike Giveaway coming up quick, now is a great time to get started as a BBP Volunteer!  We're going to need all hands on deck to meet our goal and give away 300 kids bikes on that special day in December!  Working on kids bikes is a perfect way to learn and hone your mechanical skills, so hopefully you're ready to get your hands dirty!  There are innumerable other reasons that working on kids bikes matters.  Check out my recent blog post for five of mine.  

Volunteers wrenching on kids bikes during Volunteer Night. 

Volunteers wrenching on kids bikes during Volunteer Night. 

However, there is much more to volunteering with BBP than working on kids bikes.  We host and support many big events throughout the year and these are great opportunities to spread the word about who we are and what we do at BBP while having a great time!  From the Bike Valet Parking at the Treefort Music Fest, The Bike Builder's Gallery, Pedal 4 The People, the annual circus known as Tour de Fat and others, there are fun special events scattered throughout the calendar.  We rely on volunteers to make these events a success and they are a heck of a lot of fun too!

The Kids Race podium at Helladrome 2015, the Pedal 4 The People festival finale!

The Kids Race podium at Helladrome 2015, the Pedal 4 The People festival finale!

We also really appreciate our volunteers who come in to help out during open shop hours!  Volunteer support is hugely helpful to help keep the parts room organized, assist our staff facilitators and answer customers' questions.  Open hours volunteers are always a huge boost to the shop's productivity!

Regardless of your wrenching ability or bike knowledge, there is a role for everyone at BBP.  We are working hard every day to make Boise the best city it can be to ride a bike, so if you believe in that goal you'll find a place here.  I'm excited to see some new faces at orientation tonight and keep building our awesome volunteer corps!

Five Reasons I Love Working on Kids Bikes

We repair a huge number of kids bikes at the BBP every year and our crew of Volunteers does the vast majority of that work.  Without Volunteers, there is no way we would have been able to give away 335 bicycles during last year's Christmas giveaway.  If we estimate that the average kids bike weighs about 25 pounds, that adds up to 8,375 pounds of bicycle love!  That is some seriously heavy lifting!

Some folks might see working on kids bikes as a menial task that isn't deserving of their time or best effort.  I beg to differ.  I really do love working on kids bikes and try to share that enthusiasm with our Volunteers.  Many people are stoked to work on kids bikes out of the goodness of their hearts but I thought I'd share a few of the reasons why working on kids bikes really matters for the mechanic, the rider and the BBP. 

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1: Build a Solid Base of Mechanical Skills

For a new mechanic or even those with more experience, kids bikes provide an ideal path to build your skills.  When working on simple bikes with only a single speed and coaster brake, you can focus on tight quality control, thorough cleaning, correct tool selection, precise bearing adjustments and getting fasteners properly torqued without distraction from all the complexity of shifters, derailleurs, cables or housing.  Once those essential skills are mastered, you can step up to the next level working on bike with hand brakes.  After that, most of the 24-inch-wheeled kids bikes we repair (and always have lots of demand for) are basically adult bikes with smaller wheels.  Often, they're even more challenging to work on than adult bikes since their young riders are big enough to put a serious hurtin' on their ride but not often aware enough to maintain it!  Once you've worked your way through the hierarchy of kids bikes, adult bikes are a natural next step. 

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2: Create Positive Early Cycling Experiences

Many kids (and adults too!) are scared away from riding bikes because of bad experiences on unsafe, poorly assembled bicycles purchased from department stores.  Department store bikes account for at least 90% of the kids bikes we get donated and we see all kinds of horrors: handlebars, saddles or pedals loose, dragging brakes, forks on backward, bearings so tight the wheels barely turn... the list goes on.  Most of these issues are directly related to shoddy assembly jobs.  The bikes themselves aren't the problem.  When we repair one of these bikes and send it back out into the community with smooth bearings, functional brakes, crisp shifting and properly torqued fasteners, we are creating the opportunity for that young rider to fall in love with cycling and discover the true potential of the bicycle without being hamstrung by a shaky, sketchy bike that could fall apart at any moment. 

3: Keep the Flow of Bikes Moving!

Here at the BBP, we rarely suffer from a lack of donated bicycles.  On the contrary, sometimes the community's generosity with donations can be pretty overwhelming.  During the height of the spring cleaning season this year, there were several days where we were taking in 60-75 donated bikes per day.  With that volume of donations, we need all the help we can get to prevent bicycle avalanches in our back yard!  Without the work of our awesome volunteers getting bikes repaired and disassembled, we'd be quickly buried.  Every bike that makes it out of the stacks in the yard frees up three more to be repaired!  When we have more bikes repaired than we need for a giveaway, we are able to sell the extras at bargain prices to help meet the constant demand for kids bikes and keep the shop's lights on!  Everybody wins when we are able to manage the flow of donations well.

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3: Get Creative!

Sometimes wrenching on bicycles is a pretty dry job.  When we're completely focused on pure function it is easy to lose touch with the creative side of bike work.  Working on kids bikes often allows us to take a more fun, lighthearted approach.  For many of our giveaways, we have kids fill out a "Dream Bike Card" that describes their perfect bike.  Some kids are pretty vague with their imaginings or just aren't very picky.  Sometimes we get very specific requests regarding color options, add-ons and accessories.  While we may not have the ability to install actual fairy wings or jet engines, we can often do a heck of a lot to build that particular kid the bike of their dreams.  With all of our bikes and huge stock of parts and accessories to pull from, we have a nearly infinite ability to customize and get creative when building up a sweet ride for a special kid.  It is absolutely worth taking that extra time when you see a kid immediately recognize "their bike" before you even present it to them.  

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5: Make Old Things New Again

I absolutely abhor waste.  I'd always rather see things be reused or re-purposed than thrown away.  One of the reasons I love working at BBP and on kids bikes in particular is that we're saving bikes from the landfill every single day.  If not for the BBP, many of the bikes that we repair, resell or donate would likely end up in a heap of scrap out at the dump.  Of course, some bikes are too far gone or aren't worth saving but every bike that we successfully recycle is one less bike wasted.  When bikes or parts do need to be scrapped, the proceeds go to benefit the Action Jackson Fund, a scholarship program for Idaho kids.  However, many times the dirtiest, ugliest donations turn out to be the most awesome finished bikes.  All they need is a little love, care and cleaning.  I love unearthing these diamonds in the rough and watching them transform. 

There are as many good reasons to fix up these kids bikes as there are kids who will ride them or mechanics who will work on them.  I know I've barely scratched the surface here.  Feel free to chime in with a comment and let us know why you love working on kids bikes!   

Event Report: 14th Annual Tour de Fat!

Wow, what a weekend it has been!  The traveling circus known as Tour de Fat has come and gone, leaving a trail of skid marks, spilled beer and donated dollars in its wake.  For the non-profits like BBP who share in the proceeds, this was a hugely important day for funding their operations.  For the people who attended the event to dress up, ride bikes and drink beer with friends, this was one of the highlights of the summer. 

As of this writing, the final tally of fundraising dollars and parade riders is still in the works.  Regardless, it is safe to say that this year's event was record setting in several departments.  Estimates of this year's parade attendance are close to 11,000 riders.  Over its 14-year history in Boise, Tour de Fat has raised approximately $450,000 for local bike non-profits!  These are massive numbers whose impact cannot be overstated. 

None of this would be possible without the army of volunteers that bust their butts to make this event happen.  Boise has a well-deserved reputation among TdF stops for having the most dedicated, motivated and hardworking volunteers and we proved it again this year.  This is a big reason that New Belgium keeps bringing the Tour back to the City of Trees year after year!  Between the BBP, SWIMBA and TVCA, around 350 volunteers pitched in to make this year's Tour de Fat the best it could be.  Without that volunteer support, this event would simply cease to exist. 

This was my first Tour de Fat as BBP's Volunteer Coordinator and I could not be more proud of the effort our crew put in throughout the weekend.  I could fill an entire post with shout-outs and thank-yous to all the folks who made exceptional contributions but I'll spare you that.  Suffice to say that our volunteers absolutely slayed it.  Throughout the event and afterward, I heard constant praise for our volunteers and how great of a job they were doing. 

For me, the last two hours of the day summed it up.  The last band wrapped at 5:00 and Michael Craft of New Belgium called teardown volunteers to the central Bike Pit shortly thereafter.  Starting at 5:30, the teardown crew set about its work.  By 7:00, we were sitting in the middle of a nearly-empty field enjoying a well-earned beverage while watching the Carnies finish the last of their packing.  "That was by far the fastest we have ever gotten that thing taken down," Jimmy remarked later.  Given that nearly an entire day was required for setup it was pretty amazing to watch a massive bike and beer festival dissolve back into a wide-open park in 90 minutes.  That is the power of a solid volunteer crew.

So, on behalf of all of us here at the Boise Bicycle Project, I want to thank all of the volunteers who turned out to make the 2015 Tour de Fat the biggest, best and most successful edition yet.  There are lots of reasons why I love my job at BBP but our amazing volunteers are number one, for sure.  Schemes and plans are already in the works, so we hope you'll join us again next year to help make the 15th anniversary of Tour de Fat in Boise truly special! 

Tailwinds,

Ryan

Photos by Jennifer Peterson