By The Ghost In The Machine
A Fat Bike is like the Ford F-150 of bikes. It’s the all-terrain off-roader’s dream, it’s the snow and ice cyclist’s necessity. For me - a person who has never been able to afford a car on their own, a person who’s often been one of only two sources of minimum-wage income for a household of 6, and a person who has shouldered many of the domestic responsibilities that go along with providing for family and friends while below the poverty line - it has a different and slightly less adventurous appeal.
For me it’s an answer to every single time I was unable to catch a bus to work in terrible weather, either for fear of slipping on iced-over sidewalks or because the buses are running at a crawl. It’s an answer to being able to smoothly ride over the broken-up concrete and sketchy stretches of debris that run through the neighborhoods I have lived in. When I first saw the bike at the shop, I was giving it heart-emoji eyes like everyone else but for non-bike-enthusiast reasons.
I was looking at those huge, all-terrain tires and that incredibly hardy frame and I was dreaming about hitching a bike-trailer to it and doing a massive grocery run. I was thinking about how exhausted I’ve been hauling those personal grocery carts full of a month’s worth of food back from the store on foot and/or bus. I was thinking about those days being snowed-in and unable to get basics - how if my dad wasn’t always paranoid about bare cupboards and overstocking them with cheap, shelf-stable food, there would have been times we wouldn’t have been able to go get the basics.
These thoughts from someone who has lived in Oregon my whole life and never experienced a winter anywhere near the levels of someone in the Midwest or East Coast. If I’m dealing with the mild form of these struggles, I can only imagine how someone with a similar background living in less temperate conditions feels.
Of course the bike is well beyond my budget, and probably the budget of many folks reading this. One might even wonder why a non-profit bike shop focused on transportation justice and accessibility, who consistently provides affordable and earned or free bikes to the community, would price something like this so high. It’s because of the next set of thoughts that ran through my head as I listened to my fellow B4H community members talk about how much these bikes usually go for - we could be set for months.
Selling this one bike at this price could pay to keep the store open, our services and free programs going, and our employees employed (which will soon include me and yes that makes me biased - I’ve been both homeless and hungry before and I like both warmth and eating) for at least 2 if not 3 months. Which means that we’ll also be able to provide loads of other grocery-hauling, broken-pavement navigating, my-bus-is-late to-work-getting bikes for under 4% (I did the actual math folks) of what we’re asking for this bike.
So to all adventurous off-roaders, recreational bike-enthusiasts, and community members with big hearts who can afford this bike, consider purchasing it from us. Every cent is going to go back into B4H and subsequently right back into the communities we serve. You’re buying way more than a grocery-hauler or trailblazer - you’re buying us the time and resources we need to continue to make transportation more accessible to everyone.