Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

After a year of collecting, scrubbing and fixing bicycles, a Crescent City man was able to give away almost 100 of them to local kids Saturday inside the Foursquare Church gymnasium.

Dave Cormack has been refurbishing bikes for kids for four years, and getting more every year.

“The first year, I had 15 bikes,” Cormack said. “Then it went to 22. Last year was 41 or 42 and this year, we have 108 bikes to give away. Yeah, I’ve been busy.”

Cormack said most of the bikes are donations from community members.

“Kids outgrow them or they just don’t ride them anymore,” he said. “People get ahold of me on Facebook and say, ‘I have some bikes if you want them.’”

Bikes went away in the same manner, as those wishing to have one sent Cormack a message on Facebook and their names and kids age/size were drawn from a pot at the giveaway.

He said if he’s unable to salvage a donated bike, many of the parts on most bicycles will interchange, making it easy to rebuild a bike without buying new parts.

“There are a couple here that are a combination of Schwinn, Huffy, Mongoose, you name it,” he said.

Cormack has been storing the growing collection of bikes at the former bus barn, which is scheduled for demolition. However, an anonymous homeowner offered up her two-car garage indefinitely, to use for bicycle storage.

Why he does it

“It’s a triple-win for me,” he laughed. “I’m retired, so it somewhat keeps me out of my wife’s hair, and she appreciates that. A lot of these (bikes) were headed to the landfill or the transfer station, so I have kept them out of there. Plus, it makes kids smile at Christmas — Triple win.”

Gary Bates was assisting with the giveaway and noted the amount of work that goes into some of the bikes.

“Some of these look like they were pulled out of a river,” Bates said, “but he gets em all cleaned up and working for the kids.” Cormack noted that he uses up a lot of wire wool and elbow grease to get the rust off. He said that once the rust is scrubbed away, it’s necessary to paint or clearcoat the metal immediately.

“It will be rusty the very next day if you don’t,” he said.

Although he’s the prime motivator behind the effort, Cormack noted he has had help along the way. Looking around the gym, which was full of parents, kids and bicycles, Cormack said, “It really does take a village to pull something like this off.”

Jason Bartholomew and sons Austin and David were on hand to help with drawing names and release of liability paperwork. Cormack wanted to acknowledge “the best neighbor in the world,” Dave Short, for being part of the effort since the first day. Cormack said Short had provided everything from transport, to securing the gym to rounding up bikes afterward. Cormack also acknowledged Tom Latimer at Back Country Bicycles, for his assistance over the years.

... and the bad news

Bikes ranged in size from the smallest to the largest available and were given away respectively, starting with the littlest ones. Cormack said that while he was still giving away small kids bikes a woman alerted him that a male subject had walked out the side door of the church with two of the largest, most expensive cycles.

“I’ll know that bike if I see it,” he sighed, describing a bright red Trek mountain bike, “and if I see it, I’ll — Y’know, actually, I’m not going to do anything. If someone has the chutzpa to steal a bike from a church, they will have to answer to a higher power...”

Cormack said restoring bikes has given him insight into the depth of local bike thefts. He said if he is offered a bicycle and finds that it has been spray-painted, he won’t even touch it.

“That’s the first thing they do,” he said, of bike thieves. “They spray-paint it to disguise it.”

Despite that incident, Cormack said he was happy with the day and said about nine bikes were left over. Those will go to the church to be sold at their February yard sale.

Cormack said he is already receiving calls about new bikes to be donated and has started planning how next year’s giveaway will take place.

“I’m not going to stop doing this. I’ve found something the community needs,” he said. “So, until then, I’ll be in my garage, puttering away.”

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