Three Bike-y Ways to Give Back

By : Lowrah · November 11, 2010

Poorimpulsecontrol via said it best:

I ride my bike because I want to, because I love it, because it makes me happy. But, I don't have to. I could take the bus, I could drive my car. My bike is nice, because I have the money to invest in it, and because I choose to put more money in my bike, than in anything else. I can afford to (occasionally) buy decent winter cycling gear.

That being said. There are a lot of us who ride because they have to, any money they have is spent on food, or shelter, or even just making it one more day.

As you are contemplating the gifts that you are going to buy for your friends and family, please consider buying or donating something to someone else in need.

Consider buying a few pairs of wool gloves, socks, hats, scarves and dropping them off at the Salvation Army, House of Charity, People Serving People, Mary's Place or St. Stephens.

Consider buying a couple of bicyle helmets, lights, or locks and donating them as well.

I have the good fortune of being healthy and able to ride my bicycle.  Sometimes I forget that not everyone has the same opportunities that I do!  Giving back, whether you do it as an advocate/ mentor, with your checkbook, or with a wrench, is something we should do all year long.  However, seeing as this is traditionally the "season" for giving, Grease Rag would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to be generous to people in need and the organizations that support those people.

The following are three different ways you can give back!  (Giving greenbacks to Sibley Bike Depot, racing against hunger in Cranksgiving, and gettin' greasy with MMRB!)

1.  Support Sibley Bike Depot on Give to the Max Day - November 16!

Sibley Bike Depot is a not-for-profit community bike shop that hosts a Women and Trans Open Shop Night on Tuesdays, free educational classes through EXCO, the Earn a Bike program (where volunteering during shop time can earn you a bike), Junior Mechanics program (where youth earn high school credit learning bike mechanics while building a bike to keep), and the Bike Library (where you can check out a bike for free)!

If you are financially able to support Sibley, do so on November 16, by clicking on this link:

If you are able to donate on November 16th, your donation will be matched -fifty cents for every dollar contributed (up to $5,000)- thanks to a generous Sibley supporter!

Sibley Bike Depot
712 University Ave. W., St. Paul
(651) 222-2080

2.  Second Annual Cranksgiving MPLS!

Saturday, November 13th, meet at Gold Medal Park at 2 PM -Facebook

This is an alleycat race in which participants collect food items and ride around the city for trophies, awarded to the Fastest and the Most Generous!  And yes, there is an after party!


Gather at 2:00 PM at Gold Medal Park. Event Organizers will hand out manifests & envelopes that identif[y] the stops of ride (selected grocery stores & markets around MPLS). You can team up or ride solo and choose your route, any route.

Your goal is to ride to each site and buy food items from the 'Cranksgiving Shopping List' which identifies different thanksgiving foods that the sponsoring shelter has suggested.... It is up to you how much food you pick up; some people stay lightweight and pick up the beans, gravy mix, noodles, etc; other will go for gold and buy Turkeys and sack of potatoes!! Last year, riders spent between $10 and $100 on shopping list items.

Come one, come all! This event is both bikejerk/crustpunk- and family-friendly.

**bring bike trailers if you are feeling extra generous this year??**

All donated food will go to a selected food shelter in MPLS that host Thanksgiving meals.

~After Party~
This year we will be having an after party to celebrate the event during which time awards will be given out. Location with TBA, stay tuned!

Interested in sponsoring this event or volunteering?? contact Ben or Evan: or

3. Mr. Michael's Recycles Bicycles November Blitz

Mr. Michael's Recycles Bicycles (MMRB) is having a Blitz event for the United Way/Pioneer Press Holiday Wishes program Saturday, November 27 from 10 AM- 4 PM.

The list of people requesting bicycles from MMRB is at 50, and they would like to get that down to 40 people.  They need volunteers of all skill levels to help fix all the bicycles requested for the United Way/Pioneer Press Holiday Wishes program.  There will be food (pie!) and drink available.

Benita is very easy to get in touch with at, or 651-641-1037 if you have any questions.  (Phone and email from the MMRB website.)

About MMRB, from Benita:

We are a business, not a non-profit. We sell vintage bicycles, used parts and accessories, and some art work we make from bike scrap. We use the proceeds to pay expenses to run the shop, but do not take a salary for the work.

In 1998, we started collecting and repairing used bicycles and giving them away. We did this out of our garage until 2008 when we opened the store. We didn't set out to open a store, but we needed more space because of our high volume and the opportunity presented itself. We didn't start selling stuff until we opened the store, and our goal from sales is to earn enough to break even. If we ever got to the point where the store was generating significant profit, we would look to reinvest somehow in the community, possibly by creating a job opportunity for someone who wouldn't otherwise have a chance in the marketplace. That seems a long way off, but you never know.

Our main focus is to give away bicycles to people who need them. We don't have any income, demographic, or other criteria people have to meet in order to get bicycles, they just sign up and get on our wait list. When we get to their name, we choose a bicycle, fix it, and contact the recipient to come and get it. It is really that simple. We have two primary sources of bicycles - people who bring them to our store to give them to us, and recycling events in several cities located in Anoka County. We also have a partnership with Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness, and they do a bike drive for their program needs.

In 2008 we gave away 531 bicycles. In 2009 we gave away 452 bicycles. As of yesterday we were up to 445 bicycles, and we expect to do somewhere between 30 and 50 more depending on how much help we can get.

Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles, LLC
520 North Prior Ave., St. Paul

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Please leave a comment with other "bike-y" organizations or charities that you support, and if possible tell us the best way to give back. (Cash? Wrenching? Leading a ride?)

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