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Ready, set, pedal: Windom community supporting bicycling in multiple ways

Fifty recently refurbished bicycles by the Windom Kiwanis Club will get new owners Tuesday during a bike giveaway. (Special to The Globe)

WINDOM — From refurbished bicycles to new biking safety accessories and bicycling basics, the city of Windom is collaborating in a variety of capacities to prepare bicyclists to get pedaling this summer.

Whether for a practical mode of transportation or for a healthy hobby, Windom residents will be ready for the road by June.

With the generosity of community donations, Windom Kiwanians successfully refurbished 50 used bicycles, which will be given Tuesday to youths and adults in need. They’ll also receive some basic bicycling instruction and the chance to win one of two new bicycles during the Windom Police Department’s annual bike rodeo.

In a further partnership with the Windom Area Hospital, bike rodeo participants will also be eligible to win one of 30 helmets. The first 200 participants will go home with a bike light.

This is all happening from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Business Arts and Recreation Center parking lot in Windom.

Biking partnership

For several months, Windom area residents donated their used and unwanted bicycles to a collection location at the BARC in Windom.

The Kiwanis Club’s 20 members and other partners met for two nights this spring to give the bikes new life by repairing, painting and swapping parts as needed.

The result is 50 repaired youth and adult bicycles tol be given away beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday on a first-come, first-serve basis. This year’s giveaway is in addition to the 40 restored bikes at last year’s inaugural program.

Modeled after a similar program by the Lakefield Lions Club, Windom Kiwanis member Drew Hage said the program is able to put a little value back into used bicycles relatively inexpensively.

“It’s a nice little program to recycle the bike instead of someone trying to sell it on a garage sale or put it on the side of the street,” he said.  

The refurbished bicycles have received a safety inspection by Sam Espey, owner of Ezekiel’s Wheel in Jackson, Hage said. Espey also donated his time to bring tools, bike tires and tubes, in addition to the safety checks.

Hage said the bike recycling program was a good initiative for the Windom Kiwanis to undertake, as Kiwanis clubs have a mission of serving the world’s children.

Although the bikes are newly repaired, they won’t be immune to needing continuous maintenance. The city of Windom secured a Community Wellness Partners grant for a Fixit Station and hanging storage unit.

The Fixit station, which will be located under an overhang on the south side of the BARC, is a metal stand that will allow users to elevate their bike and use a variety of screwdrivers, wrenches and tire levels for basic service. The tools are attached to the stand with stainless steel cables and tamper-proof fasteners.

“People that are in need of a bike may not have the tools needed to maintain a bike,” Hage said. “Community members will have convenient access to the tools needed to maintain a bike.”

Hage is hopeful the station will be installed by Tuesday.

Also essential to safe bicycling is proper equipment.

Like last year, the Windom Area Hospital was able to use its resources by securing a $1,000 Shopko Foundation grant to fund approximately 30 bike helmets and 200 lights, which will be given away to bike rodeo participants.   

“Our hospital has a strategic initiative of doing community outreach that benefits population health,” said Emily Masters, Windom Area Hospital chief human relations officer, who oversees the wellness department. “Our involvement in an event that promotes fitness, promotes family unity and promotes safety just made sense for us to participate, and make an event that people want to come to and participate in.”

The WPD Bike Rodeo will be moving location this year from its usual Winfair Elementary location to the BARC.

According to WPD School Resource Officer Dana Wallace, bike rodeo participants kindergarten-aged and older will complete an obstacle course that teaches them how to properly stop at stop signs, turn, use hand signals and handle their bike.

“The goal is to get kids and adults to be more aware of how important bike safety is,” Wallace said of the purpose of biking through a variety of obstacle courses at the start of the summer.

Wallace is also teaching a two-week bicycling basics and safety curriculum to Windom Middle School fourth- through sixth-grade physical education students.

The eight-lesson Walk! Bike! Fun! curriculum developed by Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota is a combination of classroom and field instruction.

The alliance provides Wallace, a trained instructor, a fleet of 20 adjustable bicycles for students to practice their skills on.  

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