Valley fire victim gets a new bike

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When a member of the Davis Bike Club, Donella Dawkins, emailed other DBC members about a Valley fire victim who lost his home and everything in it in September, several club members kicked into gear and came to the rescue.

According to Myke Berna, owner of Mike’s Velo City bike shop in Winters — where the bike was presented to Andrew Vance, a Middletown teacher and avid cyclist — Davis Bike Club member Diane Richter “sounded the rally call” to get a bike together for Vance.

Berna said Vance received “a beautiful ‘Steve Rex’ bicycle.” The frame was donated by another Davis Bike Club member, Bill Bryant, a resident of Santa Cruz. Bryant said it was easy to help get Vance back on a bike.

“I simply put myself in Mr. Vance’s shoes. Wow, to lose everything in a fire, and being a teacher myself, to have so many of my students in similar straits and how that must have affected his community … I felt giving him a bike frame, fork and wheels was a small thing to do,” Bryant said.

“I know how important cycling is to many riders and if this got him back on the road and gave him some exercise and enjoyment, then it was a good thing to do. Also, he and I are of similar stature (taller than average), so I knew my bike would fit him, unlike some other club members who wanted to help.

“I have another bike, so giving away the unused one was easy under the circumstances. I’m sure at some point Mr. Vance will ‘pass it on’ and do something similar for someone else who could use a hand up.

“With our Davis Bike Club members donating the rest of the parts needed to make a complete bicycle, it was a good team effort all around and I’m happy I got to play a small part.”

Chipping in with the other parts were DBC members Jim Wellington, who donated shifters and derailleurs, and Susan Donahue, who donated a saddle and seat post. All the parts were brought to Mike’s Velo City, which supplied the rest of the parts and assembled the bike.

On Saturday, Nov. 28, the shop served as the meeting point for the Davis cyclists to present the bike to Vance.

“It looked beautiful,” said Richter, who was among the DBC members who was present. “Andrew was visiting family in Sacramento for Thanksgiving, and met some of us from the DBC at VeloCity the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We gave him his ‘new-to-him’ bicycle. He was overwhelmed, and so very, very grateful.”

Richter said the Davis Bike Club and Middletown have connections.

“We have a rest stop in Middletown for the Davis Bike Club Double Century every year, and our brevets (ultra-distance rides) often go through Middletown,” she said. “We also have helmet donations in other towns that we have rest stops in, including Calistoga, Winters, Woodland and more.

“We don’t normally donate bicycles, but this was a special case, and a wonderful story with a happy ending.”

Added Davis Bike Club member Rich Rifkin, “A lot of Davis Bike Club cyclists have fond associations with Middletown, as it has been a stop on the DBC’s Double Century for 40-plus years, and the people there have been supportive of the 200-mile ride. Since the Valley fire, the DBC as a club has given money to charities in Lake County to help people there.”

Berna said the bike project consisted of people coming together with a variety of spare parts that all added up, and brought happiness to someone else.

He noted that most people with hobbies, whether cycling or fishing or something else, will have spare parts left over that they aren’t using.

“It was a great way to take extra stuff and give it to someone who is going to use and appreciate it,” he said.

Berna added that many people wished to help Valley fire victims, but beyond donations of food and clothing, weren’t sure what else to do.

“When the fire happened, we all thought ‘What can we do to help out?’ This was a way to help,’ This was an easy way to donate something and actually see a result.”

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