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Local News

The Bike Kitchen has plenty of ingredients

Andrew Lutsky
Ukiah Bike Kitchen
Truckload of Bike Kitchen bikes

January 4, 2022 — There’s something missing from the Ukiah Farmers Market this time of year…like the market itself, which will be coming back next Saturday, but without one important fixture.

The Ukiah Bike Kitchen is heading into its tenth year of fixing bikes for free, coaching aspiring mechanics, and amassing enough bike parts to cancel out global supply chain woes.

I’ve never actually taken my 1983 pink Bertoni road bike to the Farmers Market stand, but I love the idea that on any given Saturday, I could. Devin Vagt, one of the Bike Kitchen’s main volunteers these days, assured me that, come spring, that much-missed opportunity will be available again. In the meantime, his two-car garage, which contains exactly no cars, is the Bike Kitchen’s winter headquarters. He handed me a headlamp when I showed up after dark in a light rain, to enthuse about bikes.

So the Bike Kitchen still exists. It was founded in 2012 by Lucy Neely and Jen Smart, who worked what Vagt calls ‘grant magic’ to score the money they needed to buy a tool kit, bike trailer, and hire mechanics from Dave’s Bike Shop to train the first volunteers. The Kitchen has donated bikes to the Boys and Girls Club, fire survivors, and the Hopland Tribal Youth Center. And the organization pays a small amount to interns who have volunteered for six Saturdays.

But there’s something about working on bikes that’s simultaneously so wholesome, so obsessive, and, it turns out, almost transcendental.

Vagt muses on the meditative qualities of truing a wheel, what is kitchen-like about the Bike Kitchen, and learning to accept new features on the roadscape.


Local News