Christmas came early — and on wheels — for kids at a bike giveaway in Boulder

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Community Cycles volunteer Dean Fogerty helps Claire Rothschild, 8, test ride a bicycle in Boulder, Colo., on Dec. 11, 2021.

On a cool December Saturday morning, 9-year-old Veran and 4-year-old Van excitedly waited in the back of their parents' minivan at the annual Community Cycles Kids Holiday Bike Giveaway in Boulder. 

Veran wanted a yellow bike and Van said he wanted a purple one. The boys plan to ride their bikes to school next year, and their mom, Xixi Shen from Lafayette, decided they needed new bikes and helmets. 

Corey H. Jones/CPR News
A Boulder Community Health staff member helps fit 4-year-old Van Radebaugh of Lafayette, Colo., with a helmet in Boulder, Colo., on Dec. 11, 2021.

Since 2006, Community Cycles has hosted its annual bike giveaway, giving away hundreds of bikes to children in the area. 

“People donate bikes all year,” said Sue Prant, Community Cycles’ executive director. “We put them in the storage facility that has been donated through the owners of Hazel liquors, and then we take them out starting around October, November, and our shop mechanics go through all the bikes and change a lot of things, lost seats, tires, tubes, and cables and housing.”

This year the bike giveaway was organized as a drive-through event because of COVID-19.

“It's funny, we're a bike nonprofit who encourages people to ride bikes and yet we're having a drive-through event,” said Sandee Cirian, program manager of Community Cycles.

Every year the organization donates 300 to 500 bikes to kids ages 4 to 12 years in Boulder County.

“They're really nice bikes,” Prant said. “I mean, every year they get nicer and nicer and this year they're really high quality bikes.”

Corey H. Jones/CPR News
Gael Hernandez, 6, tries out a bicycle in Boulder, Colo., on Dec. 11, 2021.

Community Cycles also has a bike shop where mechanics refurbish bikes for adults and teach classes to people who want to learn bike safety or how to fix their own bikes. 

The group is also involved in bike advocacy and advice on bike lane and path projects in and around Boulder. Recently, the group got a grant from the state to provide 50 electronic bikes to essential workers who will use the bikes to get to work. Community Cycles board member Sandee Cirian is collecting data for the grant on how the e-bikes change the recipients’ commuting habits.

In the minivan, Veran, Van, their dad, Ray Radebaugh, and Shen all were fitted for new helmets. Volunteers explained to the family how to use two fingers to measure how far the helmet should come down on their foreheads.

“I didn't know that we need, have some space on the forehead to protect our brain and I never knew that,” Shen said. “So for about four years we did [it] all wrong. So it's good to have the instruction.”

Corey H. Jones/CPR News
Community Cycles hosted one of its three holiday bike giveaways for families in need in Boulder, Colo., on Dec. 11, 2021.

After the fitting, the family got the go ahead to pull their minivan forward in line to where a few dozen bikes were laid out in the parking lot by size. Yellow and purple bikes were waiting for the boys to pick them.    

“It's great fun to see these kids just test riding all their bikes and picking the one that's the right color and the right size,” Cirian said.

Veran ran up to a slick yellow bike and jumped on. He rode around the parking lot and tested the brakes before taking off again. One of the volunteers helped him adjust his seat. Van took a little longer to pick out a bike. His mom helped him pick one and get on the bike. He was more hesitant than his brother but eventually got the hang of it. 

“That one right there!” Veran said. “It’s yellow with black and grey, and it’s like way cooler than the other one.” 

His little brother Van found a bike with a bell that he rang over and over again until the family packed the new bikes and helmets into their minivan to head home.

CPR's Andrea Dukakis contributed to this story.