By way of an introduction, I've been acquainted with the Bicycle Kitchen for more than a year, but it was only last August when I ventured inside to participate in the BK's inaugural wheel-building class, which changed my life.
Well, not like totally changed my life, but with the help of Jim Cadenhead it did kickstart a resurrection project on an abandoned road bike that I'd rescued only to let it sit around for so many months. Outfitted from the tires up now as a single-speeder with new everything, a home-brew paintjob, and a whole lot of assistance and support from Jim, Ben, Thomas, Somer and so many others, the ride I dubbed "The Phoenix" rose again and she officially rolled a couple weeks ago with that Sunday afternoon groupride down Sunset to the Not A Cornfield project. I've put about 50 miles on The Phoenix since that Sunday ride and this past weekend participated with about 15 or so other cyclists leading the Echo Park Holiday Parade. Good times.
There's not a trip I make on her that I don't feel a special bond. To some, though such talk is goofy. They don't get the connection that's made. To them, a project like that is just a big "so what?" and it's tough to make them understand the pride that comes with taking a rusted up and destroyed bike destined for the scrap heap and returning it to a new life on the road with my heart and my own two hands. They say they'd take the money I spent and buy an off-the-racker (or even two) at Costco, but where's the sense of accomplishment and adventure in that?
So I guess what I'm saying is that while the Bicycle Kitchen may not change your life, it can certainly change your point of view. So if you're new and curious as to what the Bicycle Kitchen has to offer, go on down and talk with one of the cooks on duty and hook yourself up with a project bike of your own. You may not believe there's joy to be found in replacing a bottom bracket or threading a brake cable, but there is.
Some photos of the cyclists in the parade can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbell/sets/1503152