A bitter cold morning made way for a brisk but pleasant afternoon opening dedication for the new permanent home of Freewheelin' Community Bikes - a full-service retail space at 3355 N. Central Ave.
Executive director Nancy Stimson says the new home affords Freewheelin' the ideal base for their mission to help provide neighborhood rides and bike maintenance and repair skills to young people.
"It's hard to believe we've come so far in a few short years, from when we were first teaching a few mechanics in this very parking lot, all the way to our own space right here," she says.
Perhaps the biggest difference the evolution brought about is in the cavernous garage, education, repair area and storage space behind the shop, which solves the group's longtime storage problem. "In the last space, we were so crowded I could reach out with my arms and touch both opposite walls of the storage area," notes volunteer Lydia Fischer.
City-County Councillor Jackie Nytes and Mayor Greg Ballard were also on hand to offer accolades.
"It is so exciting to actually have retail with a mission here in the community," Nytes says. "If all of the actions we take in the rest of our lives have these sort of secondary motivations, that'll be really cool. We have a retail space, we have a destination, we have a space that's going to attract bike enthusiasts from all around the city. A whole bunch of kids whose parents don't have time because they're working two jobs or don't have the wherewithal to take their kids on camping trips or bike rides twice a week, this organization is making that happen."
Ballard says the group epitomizes the goal he and many others in the city are working towards: "To make bike riding easier and more connected throughout the city," Ballard says. "Organizations like this fill in a niche in a special part of town."