6:49 PM

The Kids

A good friend of mine volunteers for an after school program at a Santa Ana middle school. The program is simple, its there to provide kids with a place to go after school is out so that they don't wind up on the streets. The volunteers there spend the afternoon with the kids in different activities including homework hour, sports, hour, handball. Sang (mi amigo) wound up with a weekly activity labeled "Bike Club." For the first few weeks, he was able to teach the kids some bike basics such as tire changing, bike maintenance, etc.

For several weeks now I've been meaning to come by but my schedule has kept me from being able to do so. Last Tuesday, I finally found a free afternoon and stepped up as THE BIKE MAN.

I wasn't at all sure what to expect from the program. I was told to just bring some bikes, even non working ones so that the kids can work on, fix, and tinker with (sadly the program is super low budget). I decided that was quite boring so I picked up and tuned up some bikes I had around. loaded up my truck with tools, a pump, and some tires and headed off.

When I showed up I realized I didn't bring enough bikes!

The program was really relaxed, it was an hour of whatever you plan for them so when I was there, it was an hour of them riding around and me fixing whatever needed to be fixed, tuned, or adjusted. Here they are getting in line anxious for their turn to ride.

As I let them take their turn, answered questions as I tuned this and fixed that I found that although few have ridden a road bike before, most of them are pretty familiar with bikes. They all ride to school and have gone through the endless troubles with chains, flat tires, bent forks, etc. They even ride pretty well. Most of the customers who come and buy a bike from me demand a bike that is small enough for them or else they have trouble riding it. These kids on the other hand, remind me of the days of me riding my dad's bike, where you pretty much can't sit down or you wouldn't be able to reach the pedals and when you stop, you look for a curb to stand on or you'd risk bruising that special area. That's not to say that bike sizing isn't important, but check out this little girl riding a 52cm, she had to park next to a 2ft ledge to get on and off but rides the bike like a champ!

After they were done tearing up my tires by skidding around or "drifting" as they liked to call it, we had enough time for a group picture of the kids that were left. The big blue one is Sang.

I had a great time and I think the kids did too. I grew up and went to school two blocks from this area so it was great to see that people actually care enough to set up and do a program like this for the kids. When I was their age I just went home, and most of the time, WAS out in the streets, until dinner time of course. I'll probably show up again as THE BIKE MAN when they need me and I will come up with some more interesting things for them to do, I wouldn't want to wear out my welcome with the same thing every week.