What I'm Doing On My Summer Vacation: Place of Hope Bike Tune Ups

July 1, 2013

This week we're interviewing Eric Aspling who decided to combine his love of bikes and service to others this summer by organizing and leading a community group through Living Way Church, repairing bikes for residents of Place of Hope, a local homeless shelter in St. Cloud MN.

What are you doing?
Eric and one of his boys working on a bike at Place of Hope.

I’m doing tune-ups at Place of Hope to help people with limited income who may not be able to go to a bike shop to get their bikes fixed. For a lot of them it is their transportation, they don’t have cars they have a bike. When you can’t go to a bike shop and drop $30-$50 on a tune-up your bike tends to not run that well. So I’m helping them to run better, and stop safely. If they need a new part I am able to salvage parts from other donated bikes, or if I need to I can rig up a temporary fix. The same goes for tires, if they are so far worn that you can see the cords we’ll find replacement ones whether new or gently used.

How did your involvement come about? How did you come up with the idea?

I just really love bikes. I love riding them and I love working on them too. I’ve worked as a mechanic at a bike shop and at a rental company in the past. Every summer I do tune ups for friends and relatives. I figure that it’s something I love to do, and I’m good at it, so why not do it to help people out.

Our church does service projects and this past Easter we served dinner at Place of Hope. I saw the bike racks out front full of bikes with flat tires, backwards handle bars, bent parts and rusted chains and the idea to work on them just popped into my head. I thought why not just cruise over here and do what I can to maybe get someone get around town easier.

How can others help/get involved?

Just show up, it’s really not that difficult to work on a bike. There’s no set skill that you need. Plus it’s kind of fun to talk to these people and just kind of hang out. It’s not as complicated as you’d think to change a tire or just pump up tires. It can look intimidating, but when you have someone there that knows what they’re doing it’s pretty easy to pick up. We have another couple of work days this summer; July 14th and August 25th both at noon.

People can also donate tubes of all sizes, specifically 16”, 20”, 24”, 26” and 700c. Place of Hope takes donated bikes, but I would say only donate a bike you would ride yourself, not something that is rusted or missing spokes. Those would take more time to get running than they are worth.

If you would like more information on how to join Eric's group, click here.

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