Brad Piepenbrink was overwhelmed thinking about the many families who lost everything in the Marshall Fire, which was the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history. He felt he needed to do something. And as the owner of Recycled Cycles and Fitness in Fort Collins, he knew he had the means to help by replacing bikes lost in the blaze.
“Losing everything that abruptly is so tough,” Piepenbrink says. “We view Boulder as one of our sister towns.”
To start, Piepenbrink and Recycled Cycles general manager, Charlie Moody, reached out to Ryan Duzer, a bike advocate and Boulder resident, to figure out who needed bikes and how to get them to those in need. “I kind of view him as the unofficial mayor of bike riding in Boulder, and he was happy to help connect us with people,” Piepenbrink says of Duzer.
The pair also began tuning up bikes in their possession. They had just finished up their annual Bikes for Tykes program, during which they gave 200 donated two-wheelers to kids across the Front Range. But they still had plenty more in their shop. They decided to focus on kids bikes and utility bikes, so that children could keep riding and adults could get around town. “We weren’t aiming to replace that high-end full suspension mountain bike,” Piepenbrink says. The most immediate need was for families who likely lost one or more vehicles, so that they’d have a way to run errands and get around town.
Recycled Cycles set up a form that people who had been affected by the fire could fill out, requesting certain sizes and types of bikes. Then they filled up a truck and went door-to-door, dropping off bikes. They also gave each person who received a new bike a helmet and bike lock. “We told them that if the bike didn’t fit, or they needed something different, to call us and we’d come back. And we told them to spread the word to their neighbors,” Piepenbrink says.
Piepenbrink and Moody gave away 25 bikes on their first trip to Boulder—mostly to kids younger than 18. “It was very rewarding, but you could tell that they were all still in full shock of the situation,” Piepenbrink says.
They want to continue the program, but they need more donations to do so. If you would like to donate a bike, or if your family has lost bikes in the Marshall Fire and would like to request new ones from Recycled Cycles, you can reach out to Piepenbrink and Moody via their social media accounts or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). “We’ll tune them up and make sure they’re mechanically in great condition,” Piepenbrink says.