Happy to get broken bikes? Round Lake teens get new rides and repair skills
A group of 15 Round Lake area teens received free bicycles from local cycling enthusiasts looking to do some good and share their love of riding.
One key detail: The bikes were inoperable.
Whether they had rusted wheels, broken cables or missing parts, the bikes the teens received Monday night needed serious repair -- which was the whole point.
The bikes were either collected by the Fox Lake Police Department or donated by Bob Hager of B & G Cyclery Inc. in Round Lake Beach. Arthur Paton of the Round Lake Area Bicycle Club said the idea was that the teens would work with adult volunteers to learn to fix the bikes.
"These are life skills that they can use not only repairing bikes but for other challenges in their future," Paton said.
Hal Davis, who hosted the event at his auto shop Collision Solution in Hainesville, was one of several adult volunteers helping the teens learn by showing, not doing.
"They did it all themselves; we just instructed them on how to do it," said Davis, a former Round Lake Area Unit School District 116 board member. "That way when they are out on a trail and have to change a tire, it's something they've done before, not just something they've watched somebody do."
Marcos Escobar, who will begin his senior year at Round Lake High School in the fall, picked out a red bike on Monday evening and worked on it Monday and Thursday. He changed the tires, oiled the chains, swapped out the brake pads, cleaned the rust off the wheels and adjusted the seat.
"It needed a lot of work," Escobar said. "It's been a journey; this is like my first time fixing a bike."
It's also the first bike he's ever owned.
Escobar said he heard about the event from a friend and thought it would be a great opportunity to learn to work with bikes and maybe build one in the future.
"I like building things and doing things with my hands," Escobar said. "I want to be a mechanical engineer."
In addition to providing the bikes, replacement parts and instructions, the volunteers gave the teens a demonstration on how to safely ride their new bikes, Paton said.
"It's been exciting for me to see them enjoy this," Paton said. "They are fast learners."
The workshop event idea came from a grant proposal that Paton worked on with Nanci Radford of Nicasa Behavioral Health Services in Round Lake. The proposal didn't receive funding, but Paton and Radford decided to get the idea out in the community and do it anyway.
Paton said they hope to do another workshop later this summer, possibly before school starts. If not, they will do it again in the spring. Paton said he hopes the workshop idea spreads to other towns.
"If we can get more people doing build-a-bike workshops for kids," Paton said, "then we can have more kids with bikes, and that's a great thing."