The Story of “No Bike? No Problem”

Two weeks ago, I met with the new Traverse Heights Elementary principal, Bryan Kay. We chatted about happy, healthy, ready-to-learn Roadrunners. I told him of Norte’s humble beginnings at Traverse Heights in 2014 with our very first after-school bike club.

We showed up ready to ride. Unfortunately, many of the students were also excited, but lacking good, working bikes. Of the bikes they did have, many had flat tires that wouldn’t hold air, brakes that were only aspirational, and we even had handlebars that popped off. We made it, but it was a lesson.

That experience made me realize that Norte needed to do a better job of leveling the playing field to make a difference in the lives of every child. If a kid didn’t have a bike – or a working one – we needed to provide one. Our programs would only be successful if we left no one behind.

Enter the Traverse City Bike Library.

The Norte Bike Library launched in late 2014 when Kris and Bob McLain of McLain Cycle and Fitness donated 20 gently used Specialized bikes from their incredible trade-in program. That inaugural gift was only the kindling to an explosion of generosity from the McLain family.

Six years later, thanks again to the McLain’s, the library redistributes nearly 400 quality bikes. The Norte Bike Library has two branches, Traverse City and Elk Rapids. And we have served over 550 kids. Thank you, Kris and Bob.

Happy, healthy, strong communities cannot exist unless everyone can participate—every single one of them.

No bike? No problem.

PHOTO: In September 2020, McLain Cycle and Fitness donated over 200 bikes to Norte’s Bike Library.


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