FreeCycles is a Missoula institution, a community bike shop offering tools, parts and bikes, for free. The operation runs on volunteers and donations and Bob Giordano has been the ringleader for about 15 years, extending a helping hand to the community even when his own are deep in another project. When the Missoula Urban Demonstration (MUD) needed to transport their tool library to the Missoula Home ReSource project (building materials reuse center), a lightbulb flickered in Bob’s mind. With a repurposed John Deer haywagon, a homemade three wheeled tandem “tractor”, and a couple of able bodies pushing from behind, several tons of tools could be transported across town entirely by human power. The result was a jalopy of well-loved tools and sweaty bodies ambling and rambling through Missoula’s urban center at rush hour. In a friendly mid-sized cycling city like Missoula, rush hour isn’t much to speak of, but pedestrians and motorists offer hurrahs and cyclists lay down their bikes to assist the effort, pushing for a block or two. Actually, many skeptics turned down the offer to assist but several touring cyclists and locals jumped on the proverbial haywagon.
Our route took us around the railroad tracks to avoid any topographic challenges. With enough hands, anything is possible.
This is Sean’s first day in town and I’ve signed him up for 5 miles of strenuous wagon-pushing. He’s been following the blog for almost a year and when I put a call out for cyclists to join me this summer, he responded and bought a plane ticket. He has optimized his 90’s Novara Aspen ATB with drop bars and 2.3″ Kenda K-Rad tires, which you’ll be seeing more of over the next few weeks. A wide range of gears, platform pedals, homemade fenders, a Brooks saddle and some Swift Short Stack panniers round out the ride. Leaving Missoula, we’re headed for the Divide.
I visited FreeCycles for the first time last fall, and was inspired by the experience.