Charlie’s Freewheels Field Trips Part 2

Charlie’s Freewheels is a non-profit organization that teaches young people about bike mechanics through a free Build-a-Bike program for youth between the ages of 12-25.  In addition to teaching youth about building bikes, Charlie’s also provides young people with opportunities to gain confidence riding their bikes through weekly rides and road safety classes.
Image Courtesy of Charlie's Freewheels

In winter 2017 Charlie’s hosted a series of Winter Field Trips in an effort to introduce young people to different approaches to cycling.  These field trips included a trip to Schön Studio to learn about frame building, Fat Biking with Evergreen Bike Works  in the Don Valley, a trip to Joy Ride 150, and to the Milton Velodrome to watch the provincial races. Read part 1 here

Betty, 20, participated in one of the early Build-a-Bike programs at Charlie’s in 2012.  Since then Betty has become a badass cyclist in Toronto, riding a rad blue single speed bike to explore the city and as a courier for Turnaround Couriers.

- Alix Aylen, Interim Executive Director

Milton Velodrome -  Provincial Races

Image Courtesy of Charlie's Freewheels

Seeing a bike race for the first time made me feel as if I were up on the velodrome racing as well. It makes one think about how incredibly skilled the cyclists are that they can ride up the edge of the velodrome on a fixed geared bike and not lose their balance. I saw youth around my age defy the odds of going 60 km/h on the race track. I was sitting so close to the edge of the velodrome that I could see the focus and mental strength of the racers. In a race called pursuit, a racer will try to outsmart the other by going as fast or as slow in the first few rounds and at any moment, the racer ahead will speed up to the finish line. I saw moments when racers were up the edge of the velodrome, trying to maintain the slowest speed possible (defying the odds of gravity and not pulled down to the center of the track). There were a few racers whose pedals touched the velodrome, making them crash. But they were true competitors of the sport, and one racer stood up and brushed off his bike and said, “It’s whatever”, and went back on racing. All in all, it was a well Saturday spent with good vibes of the loud cheers of the fans in the stands and chants of “Ya Bikes!”


Visit to Schön Studio

Image Courtesy of Charlie's Freewheels

Visiting Danielle Schön’s studio and seeing how she produces her one-of-a-kind welded bike frames was incredible to see. She had her own space in the back of a bike shop in the city (Mojo Bikes) where she works to build bike frames for her clients, future riders, and where she also built a donut bike for the Toronto Bike Show last year (!). She taught us the techniques of welding two metal tubes together to form a bike frame. Although it might sound simple, she also told us there is also a lot of science involved in the art of frame making. There are many kinds of bike frames such as aluminum, carbon, and titanium that all have different material properties that must considered when building a frame so that its structure will not fail. After explaining how welding works, she even allowed the group of young aspiring welders to give it a go and use the equipment to weld two pieces of metal together. There were sparks flying but gladly nothing exploded and everyone still had their fingers intact! Welding was not as easy as it looks but it was very cool melting metal together. After learning about how bike frames are made, I feel even closer to my own bike.

Image Courtesy of Charlie's Freewheels

Registration for Charlie’s Spring Build-a-Bike Programs is now open.  Sign up today!

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