The small room in the basement of the basketball gym at Irvin may seem unassuming to most, but inside there’s an assortment of bike frames, chains, pedals and other equipment that are key components of the school’s newest club.
The Irvin Bike Shop Club meets Tuesdays and Thursdays after school and gears up to spark interest in cycling among the students in the Northeast school.
Physics teacher Dave Wilson started the club last semester after multiple requests from students for air pumps and help with fixing flats. The avid cyclist joined with Spanish teacher Mario Hurtado to get the club rolling.
“We spent about a month getting a space, getting some materials together from the YMCA on Will Ruth,” Wilson said. “Mario brought some tools, and I brought some tools from my house. The next thing you know, we’ve got kids lining up outside everyday we’re open with some heap of a bike that needs quite a bit of work to make it safe for them to ride to school.”
Both Hurtado and Wilson ride their bikes to school daily, setting the example for students on campus interested in riding for fun and commuting.
“A lot of the students don’t have money to take their bike to a shop,” Hurtado said. “The students are learning how to work with their hands and getting some experience working on bikes. Once they know how to maintain their bike, they can keep their bikes running by themselves.”
Junior Matthew Daniels became interested in the club after his bike was stolen and he needed a new ride.
“We help people build their bike. This one I built from the ground up,” he said, holding on to his reconditioned Trek. “I’ve also learned how to fix flats, fix the chain and the gears and grease up everything.”
Daniels likes learning about bikes and has been peddling the program to other students.
“I tell them you can get a free bike and build it up for yourself so if there are any problems, you know how to fix it,” he said.
Wilson challenges students to consider riding to school by telling them “walking is for chumps,” a motto he coined for his bike club fliers.
“It’s a form of freedom for a lot of our students, allowing them to get to school much, much faster than walking,” he said. “I put the fliers out with the times we’re open and kids started showing up. They are learning a lot of really good stuff.”
The bike club has become an outlet for Wilson to share his passion for cycling, hoping the students learn the mechanics of a bike and become lifelong riders.
“It’s a lot of fun and it helps me in my day,” he said. “It’s better than I ever imagined I would be able to end my day here at Irvin.”
Anyone interested in donating bikes, supplies and tools for the bike shop, can email Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org