In an effort to save money, I decided to get a used bike for this trip. New touring bikes are $1000 and up, so that wasn’t going to happen. While browsing various Denver bike shop websites, I stumbled upon the Bike Depot. They are a non-profit based in Denver, and they have a Earn a Bike program. Basically, participants go to an orientation, spend a few hours volunteering, and then get a free bike to repair themselves. Since I know next to nothing about bikes, I decided to give it a try.
The Bike Depot only has a few paid staff members, but there are over 100 volunteers.
My boyfriend and I went to orientation, which was taught by two volunteers. We learned about biking safely while on the road. Then we learned how to repair a hole in a tube and change the tire on the bike. These are both things that I’ll have to do regularly on the trip, so I’m glad I was taught how to do it.
After orientation, we came back another day to volunteer. Basically, we just spent three hours in the shop cleaning things.
The next day, we went back to get our free bikes. We each picked out a road bike, and got started with our volunteer mechanics. My tires were so old, they gave me a new set for free. Then I had to check the tubes for holes, make sure the wheels were aligned straight, tighten all the bolts on the bike, adjust the brakes, clean the bike up, and take it for a test ride. I also received a free helmet, bike lock, and bike light.
My bike is about 10 years old and the brakes are a bit squeaky, but it looks and works pretty well. And if anything does go wrong while on the road, now I’ll have a good idea how to fix it.