Bikes for the World

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How'd He Do That

Volunteer Phil Ruth's Load in Shepherdstown WV
One question we get a lot is Do you pick up individual bikes? The short answer is: No. Our drivers would never be able to get 30-40 bikes packed into their pick ups collecting individual bikes, not to mention the time it would take to do so.

We make it easy and convenient for donors by partnering with over 100 community groups and over a dozen bike shops in the Metro DC area. This gives folks a multitude of options on where to donate a bike throughout the year. We wish we could pick up each and every bike but then we wouldn't have time to do what we do.

Not a very efficient way to transport bikes
And what we do is ship over a dozen 40' containers annually to our partner programs overseas. Thanks to the hard work of hundreds of volunteers helping us process bikes throughout the year we can typically pack over 500 bikes per container.

Doing the math you'll see Bikes for the World collects and ships over 10,000 bikes annually, making us the nation's largest bicycle reuse program.
BfW bikes at Lorton
Over the year, in addition to bike shops and collections, we also regularly pick up bikes from universities, police departments, recycle centers, and condo and apartment buildings.

If you work at one of these areas or managed a collection for Bikes for the World you have probably met Nick. Nick Colombo is our Operations Manager and does a lot of the bike pick ups. We also have a small handful of dedicated volunteers who use their vehicles in ways they probably weren't meant to be used in order to deliver bikes to one of our storage areas. You can pick them out by the grease marks on the ceiling and the unmistakable odor of WD40 emanating from their cars.

Nick and Chris of Spokes Etc. Loading bikes

The word around the water bottle (we don't sit still long enough to have water cooler chats) is Nick is a bike stacker extraordinaire. In the bike collecting community Nick is a bit of a celebrity. A quick scan of his facebook page and you might find a friendly competition between similar organizations like Working Bikes, boasting who got more bikes in their truck.

"Interesting. You're using the "shuffle the top layer in" method instead of the "stack them on top" method. I may have to revisit this." said one Working Bikes employee.

Nick swears by his method. 15 upside down, 15 on top, and then he throws more flat on top of that. His personal best? Somewhere between 43-48 bikes, now that he added a bike rack to the back. Yes, this is a regular sized pick up truck NO TRAILER.

"I've never lost a bike," brags Colombo.

Nick with the Blue Flame
Unfortunately, he has lost a truck. It's true. The Blue Flame petered out on him. He used to stack about 35 bikes in that little truck of his and "you had to floor it to get up a hill".

His new truck is a little bigger. And he outfitted it with extra springs and wider tires to give him 500lbs extra towing capacity.

What it's missing is Flames. And he's taking requests on colors if you want to weigh in.

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