Gears and Wheels: The University Bike Shop
By Sabrina Hubbell
The University of Puget Sound’s bike shop, located on Alder street, is a great campus resource for students and staff looking to get their bikes fixed and finding free, used parts. Although construction of the welcome center forced the shop’s relocation, the staff has been fixing, building, and providing bike parts for years. Over the years the shop narrowed its scope from longboarding and skiing to a bike shop exclusively.
Addie Tinkham, fourth-year and the bike shop coordinator explains what the old shop looked like. “It was this big garage that when I got here was in a massive disarray.” Tinkham mentioned that the old space came fully equipped with couches, a fridge, and a desk with a computer.
Tinkham originally planned on becoming a car mechanic. During the summer of their senior year of high school, they decided bikes would be a good place to start. “I didn’t know where to start so I went to my local bike shop,” Tinkham said. “They were like; ok you can be our shop intern and we’ll teach you everything that we can”. They expressed that the internship was a very influential experience, “I did a lot of parts cleaning but I learned a lot.” Tinkham has stuck to working with bikes ever since.
Lane Andolsek, third-year, joined Tinkham working in the shop this year. Both Tinkham and Andolsek hope to host more activities and biking trips in the future. “We like to bike to Point Defiance or ice cream social. Usually, we do an ice cream social ride with the eco-club on earth day” Tinkham said.
Andolsek spoke about how COVID affected the bike shop. “We’ve seen a significant decrease in student activity in PSO because of covid certainly, but like nobody is leading trips. People don’t know about us.” Tinkham went on, “It definitely used to be more of a community thing,” explaining that “They would do rides like every week.”
Tinkham expressed the benefits of using this on-campus resource. New parts at the university bike shop are relatively inexpensive compared to marked-up retail prices. The shop even has boxes of used parts that can be taken free of charge. The bike shop is not only a place for quick bike fixes, but can be a place for people to learn how to fix bikes on their own. “If you come in, we’ll teach you how to do things if you’re interested and then you can change your own flat,” Tinkham said.
One of Tinkham’s favorite stories from the shop is working on a unique bike built by a former shop employee. “Spring 2019 some people came by and were like hey this bike has been in our basement for many years and we’re moving out, can we leave it here?” Tinkham said. The bike was built from two tall bikes welded together. It now lives in storage and is sadly unrideable.
Despite how the bike shop was affected by covid, Andolsek and Tinkham hope to revive the shop and show students that it is a great resource, even just to stop by and say hi!
The shop is located on Alder Street, across the street from the new welcome center. You can find it by walking on the pathway near Diversions Cafe to behind the sub.