Experience Cycling owner Will Arnold recently told me a story about how he and the guys in his Duncan-based bike shop helped a struggling mother close to 20 years ago.
She’d lost everything after a divorce and had come into the bike shop seeking to finance a bike trailer to transport her two younger kids so that she could ride alongside her eldest to make sure the child got to school.
The store didn’t do the type of financing she was after but Arnold convinced the guys at the shop to do it anyway.
“The woman just lost everything,” he argued.
True to her word, she paid for the trailer within the agreed upon time.
More recently, to help folks in similar situations, Arnold’s crew has set up the Ron McLaren Wheels for the Future program.
“It’s a program that we started a few years ago when Ron McLaren died. The Duncan firefighter. He was a good customer of the store and I have a ton of respect for him,” Arnold said. “We’ve been doing this program helping out kids in the schools and people that are in need. Some of the bikes are donated by our customers and some of them we build up. It’s been great.”
This year the program was integral to helping one particular student obtain a bicycle so that he, too, would get to school.
“The kid has had a difficult upbringing. We’ve been working with him hard,” Arnold said.
With the help of the school, he was gifted the bike, a lock, and a helmet in the hopes of compelling him to keep attending his classes.
It was working. It may well have continued when school started back up again, except for one problem.
The other day Arnold was walking by Save-On-Foods and noticed the bicycle — or what was left of it — locked to the bike rack.
“I saw the bike stripped to the ground,” he said. “We’d got him a good lock. But thieves are cruising around now with bolt cutters in their backpacks. That’s why what’s left of it is still there. Because of the lock.”
The bike’s front tire and fork assembly were gone, as were the seat and handlebars. Just the frame, and back tire remained.
“I felt so sorry for this boy. He’s been struggling his whole life and finally we give him a leg up…and then I saw his bike stripped,” Arnold said. “It’s just frustrating. But I’m just trying to get it put back together again for him. It’s so important to put back together.”
Upon hearing the news, parents and friends of the shop have been offering their support.
”It’s been really cool. Some parents have been coming in and giving us money to help to put the bike back together,” he said.
The student will ride again — and hopefully ride to school.
And about that struggling mother…
“Last year she came to see me and she goes ‘I owe you a hug’” Arnold related.
“I asked why. She said ‘Everybody in this town turned their back on me except you and I just want you to know that all three kids are in university’.”
The bike shop took a $350 chance on a woman and it paid off three-fold.
“I love helping people because it’s giving them a chance,” Arnold said. “Yesterday when I saw that bike stripped, it tore a gut out of me. But, we’ll get him back on the road.”