Bicycles and Butterfly Wings

Bicycles and Butterfly Wings 750 750 Carl Gammon

Every day in Minnesota, a tragedy occurs. It happens in a shed or a garage. It happens in a basement. It happens at a storage locker, or behind a weathered cabin. Wherever it happens, a relationship is torn. Yes, I’m talking about the time one pulls out their bicycle and finds that it is just too tired to keep going. So what do you do when this happens to you?

As every end has a new beginning, so it is with bicycles. There was a time when your bicycle was fresh off the showroom floor… even if it was 1986. It seems like yesterday driving your Ford Escort station wagon blasting Journey through the tweeters so loud that your ears were crying. You were headed to the bike shop, stoked to try all the new bikes. You remember being absolutely floored by the vast array of new technology these bikes were equipped with: Quick release wheels?! Cantilever brakes?! Radical!

Then you saw it: that bike that took your breath away, made you stop in your tracks, and made your pulse quicken. Next thing you knew you were seated on saddle, and rapidly squeezing the brakes, picturing yourself embarking on that first ride. It gleamed and it rode like poetry. This is the bike that stuck by you for years carrying you over road, trail, and stream. But now that love affair has come to a close, as repairs have become costly, and it doesn’t ride like it used to. But there is good news: you don’t have to throw that bike in the dumpster like a piece of trash. After all, it is like an old friend.

There are two organizations which do bicycle recycling in the Lakes Area. One of these is “TheShop” at the Brainerd/Baxter Youth Center, located on Washington St. (Hwy 210) at the corner of North Eighth Street. (across from the Food Co-Op) in Brainerd. I personally work closely with TheShop a couple times a week to ensure youth are learning skills about bicycle repair and safety.

The donated bikes may be revitalized using salvaged parts, completely rebuilt, or used for parts depending on their condition, and are sold at very low prices. There are volunteer youth as well as high school students receiving academic credit for their participation. This allows for low-income individuals or families to get bikes who otherwise would not be able to afford them. You may drop off your bike(s) Wednesday-Sunday, 3:00 p.m.-9:00p.m. AJ Monnier is the manager of the Bike Repair Program, and can answer any questions you may have about the program. Cindy Moore is the director of TheShop, and both can be reached at (218) 454-0009.

At our business, we value this program as an excellent enrichment and teaching tool for youth, as well as a way to provide bicycles to those less fortunate. Thus, we have donated many bicycles that were old or abandoned, and a good amount of gently used or new take-off parts in our archives. We want to bring the joy of cycling to everyone we can.

Another option to give that old ride some new hope is Lutheran Social Services, located in the East Brainerd Mall, 716 E St NE, Brainerd, MN 56401 (behind Caribou Coffee). They help at risk youth and families in need with low to no cost social services. They have youth services and foster care programs that can use bicycles in decent condition, that don’t require much maintenance. Feel free to contact them, and they will direct you to any program that is currently in need. Their offices can be reached at (218) 829-5000, Monday-Friday, 8a.m – 5p.m.

After you donate your bike, don’t panic! Hopefully you have given yourself time in the off-season to find a new best friend on two (or three) wheels.

You’ll likely want to try several different categories of bike if you are mostly a road-bound “weekend warrior.” There are a plethora of different types of cycle now, each directly targeted to the different positions people like to ride in, and the terrain it will most likely be traversing. These variations can be overwhelming at first, but we will help you identify that criteria, and make a well-educated choice.

If you are a dirt trail rider, you can get dialed in. Bikes have all different types and amounts of suspension, tire widths, and bigger wheels. Rather than pigeonhole you into a certain category, we assess your fit, riding style, and geographic riding area. If you travel to mountainous regions a lot, we recommend a bike inclined to that terrain. If you want to ride in the snow, we have numerous “fatbikes.” But at the end of the day, the bike you choose will be backed by our service know-how and our decades of cycling experience.

You are going to be doubly elated when you donate your bike in favor of a new bike. You will make someone else’s’ rainy day a good one with your donation… and you will be blasting the music, feeling youthful with your new ride. Don’t Stop Believin’ in the joy that is a beautiful bike on a beautiful Minnesota day. And don’t give your local bike mechanic a hard time for using pop-culture quips.
Thanks, All.

About the Author
Carl Gammon is an avid cyclist who started riding and racing in his young teen years. Carl got his first start in the bicycle industry in a small bike shop in southern New Hampshire in 1997, and has been active in the cycling community in several locales across the United States. He now serves as Service Manager at Life Cycle and works with teens recycling bikes with Brainerd Baxter Youth Center. Carl is also an active member of the Paul Bunyan Cyclists bicycle club. You can contact him anytime at

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