Local cyclists give bikes to kids who lost their wheels to Irene

Catskills Cycling blogger Mike Wentland and daughter Isabelle pick up bicycles for this Saturday's giveaway from Overlook Mountain Bikes in Woodstock. Photo courtesy of Mike Wentland.

Local blogger and bike advocate Mike Wentland can't fix all the damage wreaked by Irene's floods last year. But what he can do, he's doing: Giving new bikes to kids who lost theirs in the floods.

For months, Wentland and the Catskill Mountain Velo Club, a new cycling group Wentland helped found, have been fundraising, holding charity rides, and soliciting help from local businesses to fund a giveaway for children's bikes. Overlook Mountain Bikes chipped in with a steep discount, and another bike group, Fats in the Cats, donated bikes to the effort.

To get a bike through the program, children applied through local school districts. Wentland posted some of their stories on his Catskills Cycling blog in January:

  • "It (bicycle) was taken by the river next to my house since my home is in a flooding area.  If I get a bike, I can go bike riding with my friends during the summer."
  • "Her bike was completely washed away.  She could use a new one because she doesn't have one now and she loves to ride her bike."
  • "during the flood of Hurricane Irene, our attempts to save them (bikes) was lost when the water current swept them down stream.  We never found even a piece of them again."
  • "Our old address was -------------- Fleischmanns and after the flood we had to move due to extensive damage to our place.  Everything outside was completely washed away, so it couldn't even be recovered including her first bike without training wheels. She could use a new bike because that is something we haven't been able to replace yet."
  • "The bikes went through the flood in the apartment we were living in.  The apartment was not livable after the flood so we moved the salvageable stuff to the upstairs apartment."

This weekend, their work will pay off, in the form of that certain satisfaction one only gets from giving a kid a bicycle and watching what happens to that kid's face. On Saturday, April 28, the cyclists are gathering at Big Indian Park in Shandaken to give new bikes to the children who applied for the program. The event starts at 10am.