The First Rule of Bike Club

by Quinn Welsch

Horizon Reporter

While most Whatcom Community College students are turning up the heat and staying inside, Whatcom’s Bike Club greets the winter months with defiance.

“It doesn’t have to stop just because it’s wet,” said John Toof, the club’s advisor. “You don’t have to quit riding.” Club members have kept warm, busying themselves by planning rides, hosting bike-stripping parties and bike repair workshops.

On Jan. 26, the club set up a Fix-a-Flat Workshop at the Pavilion, inviting bicyclists on campus to a hands-on education in tire repair. Matt Velguth, owner of The Bike Shop, taught cyclists how to properly repair a bike tire, a process which only takes a matter of minutes but can cost $25 at a shop. The club offered free tire repair kits for the first 15 people at the workshop.

Velguth, whom Toof describes as a “true bicyclist,” plays a large role in the Bike Club activities and has also held bike-stripping parties. Tamary Baz, the club’s president, said that members team up and set to work on bikes donated to Velguth’s shop. “We tear the whole bike apart to nothing,” she said, describing the experience as empowering. “I learned how to do that,” she said with confidence.

The Bike Shop, located at 558 Sterling Drive, receives regular bike donations from the Bellingham Police, Western Washington Campus Police and community members.

After recycling or restoring bikes, Velguth sells them to needy children in the community for an affordable price.

While it may seem senseless to promote biking in the winter, Toof’s expectations are high.

 “Ride in the Rain Week was our big event last winter quarter,” Toof said, adding that the club hopes to do it again. Club members choose the rainiest week based on the forecast and history of Bellingham weather and brave the elements, competing in groups for the most miles logged.

“We might make a day out of it, we might make a week out of it,” said Henry Thoreen, vice president of the club.

Toof also expressed interest in long distance and social rides, perhaps to Vancouver Island, a trip which is roughly 80 miles and involves a ferry crossing.

Thoreen said the club has a variety of bicyclists, some who are more serious, others more casual. “It’s not an intimidating group,” he said.

Bicyclists who join the club can use equipment such as the club’s bike pump, bike repair kit and bike repair stand on campus.

“We have been trying to attract new people,” Toof said. “We have a very small core contingency of dedicated members.”

Toof doesn’t know why more people aren’t involved. “You save money, you get fit. Who’s losing?”

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