March 31, 2020

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Opinion

WRENCHing for the cycle

Group makes cycling accessible for all

Lynn Scott said volunteering at WRENCH gives her a place to go and helps her forget about her health problems.

ANDREW RYAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Lynn Scott said volunteering at WRENCH gives her a place to go and helps her forget about her health problems.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/7/2018 (610 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Ken Schykulski has been riding and repairing bicycles since he was a child.

What started as a means of getting around town when he was growing up in Sifton has turned into a passion that has taken him on more than 20 bike trips across Canada.

He commutes and exercises using his bike, and has logged more than 132,000 kilometres since he started tracking his rides in 1978.

The 60-year-old Westwood resident shares his passion for cycling as a volunteer at the Winnipeg Repair Education and Cycling Hub (WRENCH), an organization dedicated to making bicycles and cycling accessible to everyone.

The registered charity, located at 1057 Logan Ave., provides programs, education and resources for the community.

Schykulski volunteers as a bike mechanic every Thursday during WRENCH’s open shop, when members of the public are invited in to repair their bicycles.

People without bicycles also have the opportunity to go to the shop and build their own bike, which they can take home free of charge in exchange for four hours of volunteer work.

Schykulski likes volunteering at WRENCH because it allows him to interact with a variety of people.

ANDREW RYAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRES</p><p>Ken Schykulski, 60, is a volunteer bike mechanic at the Winnipeg Repair Education and Cycling Hub (Wrench). He has been riding and repairing bicycles since childhood.</p>

ANDREW RYAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRES

Ken Schykulski, 60, is a volunteer bike mechanic at the Winnipeg Repair Education and Cycling Hub (Wrench). He has been riding and repairing bicycles since childhood.

"It’s a very diverse group of people that volunteer there and that come in to get the help they need," the retired Manitoba Provincial Parks planner says. "There’s a nice range of opportunities to help people."

Lynn Scott also volunteers at WRENCH. She got involved as a mechanic at the shop three years ago, after retiring as a nurse. Shortly after she began volunteering, Scott was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Volunteering at the WRENCH gives her something to focus on.

"It really helped to find this place before my (health) problems, because now I have somewhere to go," says the 58-year-old who lives in St. Boniface. "I don’t have to sit home and feel sorry for myself."

Scott has been a recreational cyclist for most of her life, and has long had an interest in mechanics.

Helping out on Thursdays, as well as on Sundays during Mellow Vélo, which is the WRENCH’s open-shop time exclusively for women and trans folks, allows her to pursue those interests.

"I just like going to the WRENCH," Scott says. "It’s a good place for me."

Volunteers are incredibly important at the WRENCH, co-ordinator Sarah Thiessen says.

"We would never be able to do half the programming that we’re able to provide to the public without the volunteers. They really help create the inviting community that we have."

WRENCH needs more helpers. Anyone interested is invited to attend an orientation happening Saturday, Aug. 4, at 1 p.m., or email Thiessen at volunteer@thewrench.ca. There are a variety of different volunteer positions available for people of all skill levels, including those who have no experience with bicycles.

"We really try to be as welcoming as possible to everyone, and certainly encourage folks who have never used a tool before to come and try it out," Thiessen says. "It’s a great place to learn."

If you know a special volunteer, please contact aaron.epp@gmail.com.

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