Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Finding Good Karma and Women's Night in San Jose

November 6, 2015 - the day before Good Karma Bikes moved into their 460 Lincoln Avenue location I biked inside and took this photo. 

It's a bit hard to believe I've lived in San Jose long enough to feel nostalgia over certain things. When I moved from Connecticut to California more than four years ago I had a few freelance clients I was clinging to and quickly began volunteering as a mechanic at Good Karma Bikes as well as do some social media and other communications work.

It wasn't sustainable - freelance work began to dry up and after about nine months volunteering at Good Karma Bikes, I came to the sad realization I needed to work on business development - and search for full-time work - more than I was doing, so I stopped volunteering. It was a feeling akin to breaking up with someone for no other reason than the summer was ending and you were about to go your separate ways.

But I've kept in touch with Good Karma Bikes and still shop there and donate bikes and bike parts to them to this day. In fact, most of the bikes I own - including the serious* road bike I used on the Cycle of Hope ride - have at least a couple of used parts on them from Good Karma Bikes and almost my entire California Cargo Bike was built from bikes and parts I bought from them. 

So it was a great pleasure to go there last week for their quarterly salon and hear a few words from Jim Gardner, the founder, and also Vera, the head mechanic there who is just one of Those People I'm grateful to know. She's the wrench I trust with any problems I have with my builds when I discover - usually when building anything having to do with front derailleurs - that I'm out of my depth.

Vera also leads Good Karma Bikes' Women's Night - a free class "for women and by women" to teach bike repair and other cycling skills. The next one is today: Tuesday, November 12, but check their page for their full schedule so you can go to one.

At the friend-raiser the other night, there were drinks and light snacks served on workbenches with bike parts crammed under them, and Jim began his remarks about twenty minutes in. I got a bit distracted while he was speaking because I was marveling at the highway billboard-sized list of milestones the organization has achieved in its ten year history - the nonprofit got its start in November 2009.

After Jim's remarks and a nice recognition of some of the folks who have been volunteering for Good Karma Bikes, San Jose City Council member Pam Foley spoke and said Good Karma bikes would be getting a commendation by the San Jose city council at the December 10th meeting at San Jose City Hall at 1:00pm. 

Then Vera spoke about Women's Night - and mentioned she'll be teaching Park Tool School with Good Karma Bikes next year - which is great news. If you want to become skilled at being a bike mechanic in the Bay Area I can't think of a better person to learn from.

Vera, the lead mechanic at Good Karma Bikes who runs their Women's Night program. The bike in front of her is a new Univega - a new brand of new bike Good Karma Bikes will start selling soon. 

I'll be sure to post links to the Park Tool School schedule when it's available, but in the meantime please look around your sheds and garages for gently used bikes and bike parts to donate to Good Karma Bikes during their business hours - remember they are still trying to restock their supply of bikes since some recent burglaries. Also check out Women's Night - starting with the one on November. 12. And finally, volunteer. Even if you can't do it forever, you'll remember the experience just as long. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding.

Good Karma Bikes, October 2019