Published 12:00 am Monday, May 13, 2013

SALISBURY — Students at Henderson Independent High School will soon be able to go cycling together, even if they don’t have bikes of their own.
Volunteers helped fix up donated bicycles Saturday at the high school, teaching some students how to make repairs themselves.
Henderson students will soon use the bikes to go on group rides during club time on Friday afternoons.
Saturday volunteers included Maggie and Jody Blackwell, Ed Muire, Tom Maxey, Charlie Brown and Ryan Jenkins.
“Anytime I can do something to help from a cycling perspective to raise awareness in the community, I’m all for it,” Jenkins said. “I was excited to come here and meet some new kids and, hopefully, help a little bit on something I know a little bit about.”
Several students came out to test the bikes and earn class credit. A few of them helped with repairs as the cyclists taught them how to fill tires, repair tire tubes and make other adjustments.
Maggie Blackwell, mayor pro tem of the Salisbury City Council, organized the event and collected the donated bikes. She said she got the idea from Henderson Principal Chris Vecchione.
“He mentioned that when he took the kids to the (U.S. National) Whitewater Center, all they wanted to do was ride bicycles,” Blackwell said. “A lot of them didn’t have bikes at home.”
Vecchione told her he wanted to create a club to take students on organized group rides, but the school didn’t have any bicycles.
“I thought, ‘I can do that,’” Blackwell said. “I started asking everybody, ‘Do you have a bike in your basement that you’re not using?’”
Her goal was to find 10 bicycles by May 10, and this weekend she ended up with 13. The Salisbury Police Department even donated a few unclaimed stolen ones that were set to be auctioned off.
Soon, Blackwell realized that she needed someone to fix up the bikes and make sure they’re safe to ride. She contacted Muire, the county’s planning director, who forwarded her email to other fellow cyclists.
Some of the bikes they worked on were nearly brand-new or just needed some air in the tires. But others required a lot of repairs, and two will need new brakes before they are ready to ride.
Jenkins said it’s always fun for him and Brown, who race together on a team, to share cycling with those who aren’t into it.
“You never know — they might really take onto it and get a lot out of it,” he said.
Solomon McCall, a senior, said he loves riding bikes, and he thinks it’s great that people have donated some to the school.
On Saturday, he started off changing tire tubes and then moved to testing brakes.
“I knew a little bit (about bike repair), but they enlightened me on a few things I didn’t know,” McCall said.
He and De’Quan Tillman, also a senior, both said they like the idea of a cycling club because it would give students something positive to do.
“I used to ride them when I was little,” he said.
Brianna Russell, a sophomore, said she enjoys riding her own bike with her friends, and she might join the group rides some days, too.
She said she wants to thank the people who donated the bikes and helped fix them up.
“I think it’s really great,” Russell said, “and everybody’s going to like them.”

Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.