Friday slice and dice

I’ve begun looking at Bike Delivery Fridays as an adventure.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Basics of Bicycling program, let me preface by telling you that it is hands-down a really awesome program. Started nearly six years ago, the Basics program serves nearly 12,000 elementary school students in four different school districts every year.  Through on-bike drills, the program teaches the importance of riding safely and effectively.

Where do I come in? On Fridays, I drive a cargo van towing trailers full of bikes to each school, making sure that the bikes are delivered on schedule and in good working, and that the teachers have all necessary equipment to run their lesson. When a school is done with the bikes, I retrieve the trailer and bring the bikes back for upkeep before moving them on to the next school.

No Friday is ever the same.

Two weeks ago, I picked up a trailer from which the license plate had been stolen. A month ago the trailer was covered in graffiti. The taggers adorned all the photos with mustaches, horns and eyeglasses.  But last Friday took the cake.

Three weeks ago I parked the trailer on a school playground. Let me add that it was locked inside the playground.  When I went to pick it up last Friday, much to my surprise there was a flat.  No big deal, right? Wrong. There was an eight-inch gash where someone had decided to slash our tire, steal the emergency brake chain and tamper with the electrical system.

I tend to think in positives (plus we sure weren’t going anywhere with a flat tire) and gave the lucky fifth grade class an extra hour with the bikes. It sure threw a ‘knife’ in our delivery schedule to 1) file a vandalism charge with the Seattle Police Department and 2) to wait for the tire repair service and 3) to repair the spare which happened to have a screw stuck in it as well. The long wait could have been boring, and I could have spent it complaining, but not when we had bikes, kids and time.

While the trailer was receiving its TLC, I was given the best Friday gift ever!  I had the opportunity to teach a fifth grader -- who had never been on a bike before -- to ride her first two-wheel bike. You have to keep learn-to-ride lessons positive, even when balance is the real issue, and the student's eyes are tearing up.  We worked together for 20 minutes until she decided to join her classmates.  And let me tell you, I was the first person to jump and holler and high-five and fist-pump when she finally linked her pedal rotations together.  Comfortable and happy with herself, she flew around the playground and it couldn’t have come any sooner because just as soon as the tire was back on the trailer, I headed off to the next school.

Like I said, Bike Delivery Fridays are an adventure. It’s not every day a slashed tire leads to the reward of helping a kid learn to ride a bike.  It’s all in how you look at things.