Missoula’s many hands


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.

3848WP 2


3851WP 2








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.


6 thoughts on “Missoula’s many hands

  1. Nick,
    It’s Jason — Burley trailer, Whitefish guy. Hope all is well! I made it back to Wood’s Bay (our first swim spot in Flathead Lake), 96 miles, before calling in the sag wagon. Lousy headwind the whole way. I did make it to work by 7:30 the next morning … lame. It was great riding with ya! Keep pedalin’, man! Hopefully we’ll see ya next summer.

    • Jason, Good ride back to Wood’s Bay! Too bad you couldn’t draft a Pugsley all the way back. I hear those things provide a killer slipstream.

      My rims and tires are being shipped to Bozeman, so after a few more days I’ll finally be back to super fat tires on the Pugs and will say goodbye to my days as a roadie. Missoula, as always, was super fun. Hopefully I’ll make it back to this corner of MT soon. I keep promising to move here.


      • Did you go collect your free ice cream from the Adv Cycling Org?

        I’m obsessed by ice cream these days. Bad news when you’re trying to be lactose free.

        As a passer by, Missoula felt like utopia.

      • Cass, I’m quite good at this sort of thing, as you are aware. After ice cream and a cold soda, free wifi, and some light reading (“Into the Remote Places” by Ian Hibell), I lingered long enough to tailgate the end of a TransAm picnic lunch. The supported tour was in town for the day and I filled a place with leftover sandwiches, salad, blueberries, and sweets– I just about ate my (expired) ACA membership fee that day.

        Next time you are in Missoula, there’s another good place for free lunch. I discovered it last year when all the folks at FreeCycles would “go to lunch”. You can imagine it’s not a fancy bistro, but it’s good spot to fill up on some food.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s