As spring starts, more people are thinking about venturing out on their bicycles. Zebedee Summers is on a multi-generational mission to inspire more biking.
The story beings at a unique downtown Milwaukee bike shop.
Evan Pack runs the non-profit operation called Vulture Space. A week ago, it received its largest ever donation of bikes, miscellaneous wheels and box upon box of parts. Pack will sort and salvage as many whole bikes as he can.
“Ideally someone will like it and purchase it in' as is' condition and then we’ll assist them with the tune up process,” Pack says.
Zebedee Summers coordinated delivery of the two bulging trailers-worth of two wheelers. The high school sophomore says his mom heard about Evan Pack’s mission and ‘everything about it’ appealed to him.
“Wanting people to learn about the bike before they buy it and I thought that was really interesting, and then I’m working on my Eagle Scout, so I saw the opportunity and did what I could,” Suimmers says.
In order to become an Eagle Scout, Summers chose to lead this bicycle riding mission.
His grandfather provided the raw materials. Over the years, Richard Reinhard has amassed an impression collection of hand-me-down and rummage purchased bicycles. His passion stretches back to his childhood.
“As a kid, I never had a bike until my dad dug up $10 to buy a used bike for my brother and me to share and then in ninth grade, I walked past a bike shop and read a sign that said 'Boy Wanted' and I was a boy so I signed up and worked there for three our four years,” Reinhard says.
At age 17, Reinhard fixed up a couple of bikes and he and his brother took off to visit relatives in Indiana – a three-day, occasionally harrowing, bicycle adventure.
“It was on a two-lane highway and these big transport trucks were passing us; sometimes the box was over your shoulder,” Reinhard says.
Reinhard went on to study chemistry and worked for Allis Chalmers. “When Allis Chalmers fell apart, then I looked for a chemistry job and in between interviews I did some substitute teaching and enjoyed it, so I shifted to teaching chemistry at New Berlin West High,” Reinhard says.
Reinhard began commuting to school by bike – 13 miles round trip. Really no big deal, he says.
“It’s true I might have biked when there was some snow coming down or rain coming down but I wasn’t that extreme. Although, I never stopped and asked myself should I bike to work today; the question was which bike should I ride or what should I wear,” Reinhard says.
Zebedee Summers says his grandfather taught him to fix a bike before he climbed on one.
“And then a lot of kids in the neighborhood had bikes that would break every once and a while, so I would try to fix their bikes; I mean, I tried to get them to do it so they knew how to do it,” Summers says.
As much as the means to an Eagle Scout end, Zebedee sees this project as a culmination of his grandfather’s vision to get more people on bikes.
“You wanted as many of your bikes as to you could to be given to other people, after a while, something like that,” Summers says.
85 year old Richard Reinhard shrugs off the esoteric goal – his seems to more personal. He relishes his grandson’s growing love – and ease - of being on a bike.
“When he was working on his cycling merit badges, he went on some of these rides, just to get the required mileage and such and he said, ‘boy this is fun!’” Reinhard says.
Words grandson Zebedee Summers never thought he would utter. “I didn’t think I would be able to do the think I would be able to - you have to do 15 and then 25 and then 50 miles,” Summers says.
Summers now has his eye on longer treks. “If I could I would do a bike trip with my troop and do one of those overnight things that he did,” Summers says.
But, first things first. The 16 year old must polish off this Eagle project – collecting more cast-off bikes.
This weekend he and some fellow scouts will help repair some sorry looking contraptions – at Vulture Space - that hold a lot of potential.
“On the 19th, I can have some people come - some members of my troop and some friends. And that will hopefully be a lot of people who aren’t used to fixing a bike, so they’ll learn how to do it and hopefully they’ll be better at it in the future,” Summers says.