Anyone inside the BMX/Freeride world understands that we are doing God’s work, giving our kids something besides drugs to do after school. Sure, our industry looks scary to the preacher types… most of us have enough tattoos to scare the most forward-thinking Grandpa.
But there is something about BMX that feeds that addictive soul. The constant struggle to win. The constant pressure to keep trying and the unforgiving mother that is freeride: no matter how good you are, she always wants more.
For so many of us, BMX was our salvation.
And it is good to see it paid forward both in donations to the local skate parks and in donations of bikes and supplies to organizations that help kids keep their bikes in rideable shape.
Tucked away in the recesses of Youtube is a powerful, short documentary on the power of donated discount bikes.
Beltline Bikes refurbishes these and offers them for sale to the community at an affordable price, or in a work-exchange opportunity.
For many kids, this work-exchange is the first time they have been trusted with the chance to earn anything. And it teaches them a vital social skill — the importance of providing value in exchange for a reward — that they aren’t likely to easily learn elsewhere.
With fewer than 2,000 views (at the time of this blog post), they have a working model that could spread to other communities.
One of the most heartrending aspects of this work is bike theft. Both through the absent-mindedness of new bike owners that allow themselves to be easy targets, and through the high crime rates that tend to oppress these low income areas, bike thefts are the unspoken soul-crusher of these works.
But these saints continue, freeing one child at a time.
In some communities, the local bike clubs band together to run these donations. They’ll rotate through running a small, inner-city bike shop every weekend, with lines of people waiting for their repairs.
Some of these folks are one bike repair away from not being able to make to work. They are one repair away from not making rent. One repair away from being homeless.
For these locals, a bike donor an repair program is a lifeline.
But the biggest rewards always come from introducing a child to the freedom that only a bicycle can offer.