PENINSULA PROFILE: He blends love of bicycles with desire to build community

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

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Celebrating The ReCyclery

THE RECYCLERY, A nonprofit bike center at Blaine and Kearney streets in Port Townsend, invites the public to its birthday party — also an introduction to the Step On It! campaign — Thursday at the Cotton Building, 607 Water St., Port Townsend. Food, speakers and music by PT Songlines will be part of the festivities starting at 6 p.m. Also, an 8:30 p.m. bike ride is planned from the Cotton Building to the ReCyclery.

Much more information about the ReCyclery's programs, membership and volunteering awaits at The ReCyclery is open from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and can be reached at 360-643-1755.

Among the programs starting this month: “Unicycle 101,” a no-experience-necessary class for adults and for children age 12 and older. Some unicycles will be available for participants; new ones are for sale, too. The cost for the class, to be offered from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays from May 8-29, is $15 to drop in or $55 for the whole series. For details, phone Danny Milholland at 360-385-0519.

Peninsula Daily News
EDITOR'S NOTE: Related story today:

"Port Angeles student seeks online votes in national poster contest (with related story about "Step On It" biking and walking" —

PORT TOWNSEND — Once there was a teenager, a self-described “Army brat” born at Fort Lewis, who came to live in Port Townsend. He read the words of Mahatma Gandhi about being the change he wished to see in the world — and took them to heart.

In Port Townsend in the early 21st century, this meant volunteering. For this young man, it meant sharing his skills in bicycle repair — not for donations and not for tips. This volunteer was a kind of bicycle doctor, holding clinics at the Boiler Room, downtown's nonprofit coffee house, and at the Port Townsend Food Co-op.

The bike doctor's name is Chauncey Tudhope-Locklear, but people around here know him simply as Chauncey, the guy behind the ReCyclery. He's the 25-year-old pedaling at full velocity toward not just more bicycling, but toward cultural change on two wheels.

Step On It! is the title of the ReCyclery's new campaign, funded by a $21,175 state grant, to bring back that old-fashioned practice of youngsters riding their bikes to school. The funding, to be distributed in Chimacum and Port Townsend schools over 30 months, will help pay for classes in bike safety, care and repair, covered bicycle racks and other programs, all to double the ride-to-school rate among children and teens.

By reaching Jefferson County residents while they're young, the ReCyclery plan is aimed at making this a place where bicycling to work, school and play is a regular part of life. At its annual meeting and party this Thursday at the Cotton Building, the ReCyclery crew will introduce the Step On It! campaign, serve food and drink and finish with an evening bike ride. The free festivities, also marking the ReCyclery's birthday, will go from 6 p.m. till
9 p.m. and include chef Arran Stark's chocolate cake with Elevated Ice Cream.

On a recent windswept afternoon at the ReCyclery — a combined bike yard and repair shed at Blaine and Kearney streets — Chauncey hopped off his steed for a high-speed interview. There's plenty to tell about the present and future of this place, even if its past is just a few years long.

Chauncey, after moving around the country with his father, an Army captain, arrived in Port Townsend when he was 13.

After high school, he went to work at Ichikawa, at first driving the Volvo Amazon he had received for his 18th birthday.

But Chauncey knew he wanted something else. He also knew he loved to work on bikes.

They're a relatively democratic vehicle, he believes: rich and poor ride, the world over. They ride different bikes, of course, but Chauncey envisioned a community where everybody has access to this clean way to move.

So at 19, Chauncey gave up the car. Then he gave up the restaurant job, and with his brother Dash Tudhope-Locklear opened up the ReCyclery shop in uptown Port Townsend. It started as a for-profit business, attracting other avid cyclists such as former Port Townsend Mayor Kees Kolff.

“You ought to make this a nonprofit; you ought to get the community involved,” Kolff remembers telling Chauncey. A retired pediatrician, Kolff takes great interest in issues of public health.

Last year, Chauncey took Kolff's advice and converted the ReCyclery into a 501(c)3 organization, replete with a board of directors, a membership program, a herd of volunteers and a new site on city property.

Driving by the place in the car, you might not see what-all there is. And Chauncey still has to explain that he is executive director, not owner, of the ReCyclery. Further, it is not just a used-bike shop — or a scrap yard, even if it looks like one.

Alongside the refurbished bikes for sale are the ReCyclery's unusual features: a bicycle rental program that runs on donations; a shelter full of tools for Community Shop Day every Saturday; and a repair shop whose blackboard lists tune-ups for $60, overhauls for $140 and hugs for free.

It so happens that the ReCyclery is next to some old tennis courts — perfect for bike polo, Chauncey says, showing a visitor the polo sticks he and the crew use in impromptu matches.

Then there are the donated bikes, gathered in a rack and awaiting the ReCyclery's resurrection.

“A Sundance — awesome,” Chauncey says, extracting from the rack an old bike with no pedals. The ReCyclery takes in five to 15 donated bikes each week, he adds.

The executive director of the ReCyclery believes such bicycles — along with classes in bike maintenance and repair — are the framework for a closer-knit community.

You see more of the world when you bike, Chauncey says. Naturally, this closer engagement means you also experience the weather, close up.

Give it a try, he says with an incandescent smile. Your body will acclimate. Chauncey likens biking to skiing: It's a matter of grabbing the right gear, and fortunately rain jackets, gloves and helmets are lighter than ski boots, pants and parkas.

Kolff, who is president of the ReCyclery board of directors, has long been impressed by the ReCyclery approach to cycling and life. He's seen what Chauncey calls “the secret sauce” on it all.

That sauce is “making it fun,” says Chauncey.

Kolff remembers working with him one day with about 30 elementary-school students. It was cold out, so “we had to keep them warm and keep them entertained. We had to tell them something worth learning. So we developed a game,” says Kolff, which started with “What part of the bicycle starts with A?”

One student soon piped up “the air in the tires,” and they were off and rolling, exploring the importance of good tire pressure.

Other games include musical bikes and the who-can-ride-the-slowest race.

And if you haven't pedaled in a bike parade with Chauncey, who tows a blaring boom box on a trailer, you haven't lived, Kolff adds.

At the same time, Chauncey has no illusions about the majority of Americans shifting to two-wheeled transport. He's been to many a meeting of environmentalists who, once the discussion was through, got into their cars to burn some petroleum on the way home.

Yet Chauncey is buoyed by a team of ReCyclery staffers and volunteers who are about as ebullient as he is. There's outreach coordinator Aliina Lahti, the woman who turned last October's movie night into a Halloween Harvest party with bobbing for apples, pressing of cider and the screening of “Ghostbusters.”

Another kindred spirit here: Davis Fogerty, the Coloradan who happened into the ReCyclery last summer and became a volunteer.

Fogerty, 26, also happens to be a graduate of Santa Clara University, the Jesuit college in California. He has a degree in mechanical engineering and a few lucrative years of working for a medical device company in Boulder, Colo., in his rear view mirror.

When he discovered the ReCyclery, Fogerty was making plans to pedal his bike to California to visit friends. The shop crew helped him get his wheels ready for the 1,000-mile tour, and then Chauncey, seeing Fogerty's true love of cycling and mechanical prowess, offered him the job of shop manager and mechanic.

“I was going to move back to Colorado, but the winds were blowing me this way,” Fogerty says now.

He started in December, having found a Port Townsend-area farmstead on which to live and friends with whom to enjoy his off time.

“I went from an engineering salary to bike-mechanic hourly . . . but it's not about the money. Nothing in life is.

“What makes me happy is working on bikes, seeing people on bikes.”

That's the bottom line here. So in addition to the education programs, the ReCyclery plans family bike rides and summer trips to places such as Whidbey Island, where the cycling is good and, with the Port Townsend-Coupeville ferry, cars are unnecessary.

The ReCyclery also gives away bicycles, Chauncey adds, to the Olympic Community Action Programs and to local schools.

Surviving as a nonprofit, however, is a puzzle to be continually assembled. The retail shop provides about 80 percent of the budget while the rest comes from donations of money and in-kind services, Chauncey notes.

The structure at Blaine and Kearney would have cost around $40,000, he estimates, but with volunteer labor and donations the expenses totaled $15,000.

People want to give of themselves, Chauncey says. They want to get behind a cause.

“Making this a nonprofit has been a huge joy,” he adds, “and very humbling.

“It's not just you or you and your partner.

“Suddenly, it's a family.”

Last modified: May 05. 2013 11:11AM
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