NORTHAMPTON — Tons of of donated, discarded and deserted bicycles stacked inside a big transport container behind the Florence Group Middle over Labor Day weekend will quickly be making an Atlantic Ocean voyage to Trinidad.
After twice spending weeks volunteering on a rural farm, rising crops like sizzling peppers and wild yam, Ruthy Woodring of Florence noticed firsthand how getting extra bicycles to the island nation often known as Trinidad and Tobago might higher the lives of households.
“It’s transportation, it’s well being, and it’s an financial profit to have folks making a residing by fixing bikes,” Woodring says of what she has dubbed the Trinidad Bicycles Osmosis Mission.
The challenge started in spring 2019 when Woodring received again from Moruga, a area on the south coast of Trinidad the place she had used a machete as a major farming implement through the worldwide work alternate Workaway program.
Woodring, a co-founder of the Pedal Folks in Northampton, stated the bicycles aren’t good, however are perfect for her challenge. Some have damaged brake pads or are lacking the brake set altogether. Many have flat tires, and others have frozen seat posts to allow them to now not be adjusted up or down to satisfy the dimensions of the rider.
“Many of the bikes have all their elements, they only want slightly labor,” Woodring stated.
That can come when the transport container arrives round Oct. 1. “I’ve an import companion there who will retailer them and repair them up after which promote them at reasonably priced costs,” Woodring stated.
The bicycles have been collected since Could 2019 and have arrived in numerous methods, resembling being left in downtown Northampton, or spared simply earlier than being became scrap metallic.
“Hey, can I’ve that?” Woodring recalled shouting when seeing bicycles about to be thrown out.
Woodring additionally organized a proper bike drive at Smith Vocational and Agricultural Faculty final November and labored with officers at Mount Holyoke and Amherst schools to acquire some bicycles not taken dwelling by college students. Nonetheless, on the College of Massachusetts campus final 12 months, she received into hassle with police for unauthorized removing of bicycles after college students took off for the summer time.
As well as, she attended a bicycle public sale by Springfield Police, bidding $888 to purchase 65 bicycles, which got here on the similar time she was keeping off the larceny expenses from UMass, she stated.
Since she obtained the bicycles, they’ve been saved with a pal in Holyoke, who allowed her to retailer 160 of them. One other 140 bicycles have been saved within the basement of pal Paige Bridgens, and one other 70 made it to a barn off Sylvester Street.
Although the challenge was lengthy deliberate, till late August Woodring had no thought the place she would be capable of fill the transport container, studying that it was unattainable to park it on a residential avenue. It was fortuitous, then, that whereas discussing her challenge on a Valley Free Radio program, Robert Gougeon, who owns Florence Towing and the neighborhood heart constructing the place the station’s studio is, was keen to have it parked behind the lot, an ideal spot as a result of house it supplied and the shade.
About 30 volunteers have helped her over the course of three days to get the bicycles into the 40-foot-long Mediterranean Transport Co. cargo vessel.
As every merchandise is loaded, a cautious stock is taken. For the bicycles, seats, which may very well be broken in transit, are eliminated, as are the pedals, which might get hung up.
For Stan Pollack, who dropped off a trailer full of bicycles that got here from the Bike Lab on Northern Avenue, Woodring’s challenge is right.
“It amazes me how we’re such a throwaway society,” Pollack stated, earlier than heading out to get extra bicycles.
Chase Walker and Carson Smith met Woodring on the farm in Trinidad and got here up from Georgia to take part within the closing step.
“She stated she wanted assist, and right here we’re,” stated Walker, who’s from Atlanta.
Walker stated a greatest pal on the farm biked on a regular basis, illustrating that the bicycles will probably be put to nice use.
Smith, of Marietta, Georgia, stated that in her three months on the farm, she noticed young children using bicycles that have been too massive for them.
“It will likely be actually superior. Folks will get pleasure from these bicycles,” Smith stated.
Smith stated the generosity domestically is exceptional.“It’s actually inspiring to see the neighborhood give to this,” Smith stated.
Jon Liebman of Northampton stated he had talked to Woodring for months in regards to the challenge and assisted in breaking down the bicycles and packing them. “Folks want bikes around the globe,” Liebman stated.
Woodring stated she finds it unlucky that American tradition doesn’t worth repairing bicycles.
“If I spend 5 hours engaged on a motorcycle, this bike can final me 15 to twenty extra years,” she stated.
Along with the bicycles, family items, resembling a fridge, washer and mattresses, are being put into the transport container.
A tractor-trailer truck will drive it to the port of Boston the place will probably be loaded onto the RONIT container ship. As soon as docked in Trinidad, her import companion quarter-hour from the farm will handle the distribution of the gadgets. She hopes to make use of gross sales of bikes there as seed cash, and reimbursement, for the following transport container that can exit.
Woodring stated there are vital prices to the challenge, together with $1,200 to get to Boston, and presumably greater than $10,000 to finish the mission. Whereas she did a GoFundMe fundraiser, she is overlaying a large portion of the challenge from an inheritance after paying off her home mortgage, she stated.
She additionally received help from the Bikes Not Bombs group.
“I’m tremendous grateful for his or her assist. Folks have donated plenty of bikes,” Woodring stated.
Scott Merzbach might be reached at email@example.com.