Profile Interview w/Alison Cole (Executive Director) by Zach Zagar
3355 N. Central Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46205
How long has Freewheelin’ Community Bikes been in the neighborhood and what do you do?
Freewheelin’ Community Bikes has been operating in Mapleton Fall Creek since 2007. We started our Earn a Bike Program out of Tab Presbyterian Church and operated there until 2012. That year we moved across the street to our present location 3355 Central Ave where we operate a Retail Bike Shop and conduct youth programming in the back. We are first and foremost a youth development organization where we teach kids practical and leadership skills using bikes. We offer an Earn a Bike program for kids ages 8 to 18, we offer Bike Lab on Wednesday evening and Saturday afternoons – a place for kids to come and learn more about bicycle mechanics in an independent learning environment, a paid apprenticeship program and — very soon – Advanced Bicycle Mechanics classes.
We are currently filling our EAB classes for the fall:
And we have Apprenticeship Openings:
Tell me about your Retail Shop?
Freewheelin’ Community Bikes is a full-service bike shop. We sell new, very affordable, commuter bikes and some restored bikes. We sell bicycle accessories like helmets, locks, light and other useful equipment and bicycle tools and parts. We also offer high-quality bicycle repair services. What makes our shop so unique is that we have our youth working in the shop, learning about retail management and bicycle mechanics from the professionals.
Aside from the shop do you offer any programming for Adults?
Every Thursday Night we offer Beers and Gears Build Night (must be 21 or older). This crew is essential in ensuring that we have at least 150 bikes to give to kids who have completed our class. It is a great way to volunteer for us.
A BYOB event that starts at 7:00 p.m., our professional mechanics provide a 30-minute lesson on one aspect of a bicycle and how to fix it. Then for the next 90 minutes, we supply our volunteers with bicycles we need restored for our Earn a Bike class and ask folks to practice fixing the component they were just taught. Come every week and eventually you learn how to fix an entire bicycle. The last Thursday of every month, we supply pizza and beer and we invite our volunteers to bring in their bike projects for our mechanics and the Beer and Gear participants to help fix!
Do you accept donations?
We accept all things bicycle one Saturday a month between the hours of Noon and 6:00 p.m. The cool thing is that the next day, Sunday between 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., we have a Garage Sale where we sell as-is used bikes (we invite you to bring the bike back for us to fix it up to meet your needs), and anything bicycle you could think of. Our garage sales have been wildly popular.
What about Bicycling Activities? Do you offer bicycle rides for folks?
Glad you asked. We have been offering Community Bike Rides twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) starting at 6:00 p.m. These rides have been designed to teach the novice bike riders how to ride safely on our streetways and trails in a group. The Central Indiana Bicycling Association is partnering with us by providing trained bicycle leaders to guide the rides. Don’t have a bicycle? We have bicycles and helmets you can use. We have had parents and kids come out for the rides which is what we want… families riding together.
We also offer a Training Ride every Saturday (starts at 9:00 a.m.) to help folks training for a long (like 100 miles) rides.
We are providing both of these regular activities to encourage people to sign up for our 2nd Annual Nancy’s Ride. This event is named after our beloved founder, Nancy Stimson, She died in October of 2014. This event is our way of remembering Nancy who loved taking kids on destination bike rides, exploring new places to learn new things about their city. She introduced kids to downtown, college campuses, art museums, the Major Taylor Velodrome… for many kids this was the first time they ever visited these places in their hometown.
Nancy’s Ride includes a 100, 62.5 and 30 miles and a 10k (6 mile) Destination Ride for Families where we will lead an interesting, fun-filled bike ride around the Mapleton Fall Creek Neighborhood. After the rides, we will have a picnic on the grounds of Tabernacle Presbyterian Church. The meal will be prepared by the awesome chef, James Bryant, who is the chief chef for Tab. We will have a DJ and other fun things going on.
It takes place on Labor Day – Monday, September 2nd. The 100 and 62.5-mile rides start at 8:00 a.m. and the 30 miles and Destination Ride begin at 10:00. Sign up at:
We also need volunteers. You can sign up here to help
Nancy’s Ride is a way for Freewheelin’ to celebrate our beloved neighborhood and to give back to our neighbors by hosting a fun-filled community celebration.