The cinderblock garage and the cleared property aren’t much to look at, but for the operators of the Bike Co-op, the garage on the one-acre plot on Quarry Chapel Road is a welcomed improvement. Until this year, the student-run bicycle repair shop worked out of an aging structure on Meadow Lane.
“The barn was especially prone to flooding, which jeopardized the health of our equipment, parts and stored bicycles,” said Samuel Graf ’16, a music major from Chicago and co-op member. “The space was not large enough to accommodate more than one, maybe two, bike stands indoors, which prevented us from working during stretches of poor weather.”
Until 2013, the Quarry Chapel Road property belonged to Chuck Harris, a legend in the local and national biking community. He used the garage to manufacture helmet-mounted rearview mirrors that he sold internationally. But when Harris’s health declined, the property fell into disuse. After Harris’s death in 2013, his family approached the Philander Chase Corporation (PCC), a nonprofit land trust associated with the College whose mission is to preserve Knox County farmland, about purchasing the property.
The PCC agreed and spent the next year cleaning it up. As seems fitting for the late bike enthusiast’s garage, its newest tenants are the Bike Co-op as well as the Outdoors Club, which will use the building for equipment storage.
The Bike Co-Op, founded in 2010, is an organization of students that provides free repair and discount parts to members as well as repair service to the Gambier community for a fee. In addition, the Co-Op maintains the fleet of K-Bikes that students rent from the Bookstore, as well as the bikes provided and maintained free of charge to international students at Kenyon. “There are more than 80 bikes out on loan to international students,” said Robert Brown, the K-bikes coordinator and advisor to the Bike Co-Op.
Many of the K-Bikes used by international students are donated or abandoned and require repair before usage. Additionally, “all loaner bikes are tuned and repaired at least three times annually — often more, and Bookstore rental bikes receive even more attention,” Brown said. He also estimates the co-op services more than 250 bikes from the community from April through November, as well as servicing bikes loaned to student workers and scholars over the summer.
The Bike Barn is open from 1 to 5 p.m. most Tuesdays and Thursdays for service and repairs. The Co-op also hosts on-campus repair sessions throughout the year and provides winter storage and maintenance of bikes during the colder months.
By Matthew Eley '15