For a club dedicated to people who ride bikes, members put a whole lot of energy into people who don’t.

The Maine Cycling Club has geared up its effort to get those who don’t have bikes on bikes. 

“Our objective is to see more people riding bikes and to have more cycling awareness in the community,” said club President John Grenier.

To help do that, members have put refurbished bikes back into the community at the club’s expense.  

“The bikes may be too old to sell, but they still have a lot of life in them,” he said. “Some may be really old, but they are safe and dependable.”

“Safe” — in a way — got the ball rolling. 


Grenier owns Rainbow Bicycle, and moved it into downtown Lewiston from the outskirts of Auburn in 2012. His core customer base of dedicated cyclists followed his move, but Grenier also started noticing an increase in another segment of the cycling community coming through his door. 

“I see a lot more people who depend on their bikes,” said Grenier. People who use their bikes to get to school, work or need to get to the store out of necessity, but not necessarily safely.

“The biggest thing I am seeing is people riding a bike that is unsafe,” he said.

Downtown agencies whose clients depend on their bikes started reaching out to Grenier to see if the bikes they had were reliable and safe. 

The St. Mary’s Nutrition Center has a basement full of bikes that are used by their summer youth gardeners. Kids use the bikes to get back and forth from the dozen community gardens throughout the Twin Cities.

“We do a lot of things, but bikes are not our expertise,” said Sarah Ullman, youth programs coordinator at the nutrition center. 


Every spring, “we call (Rainbow Bicycle) up and say, ‘Hey, it’s us again,'” Ullman said.

The labor to get the center’s bicycles up and running is donated by Rainbow, and the Maine Cycling Club pays for necessary parts.

“It’s been a really nice relationship,” Ullman said. 

Joao Rodrigues Victor, 17, uses one of the refurbished bikes to get to work at the center’s food pantry after he gets out of class at Lewiston High School.

“Having a bike makes my job so much easier,” Victor said. 

Grenier said the club has given 15 bikes to Catholic Charities Maine over the past year. Those bicycles are used by refugees and immigrants who do not have cars.  


Many of those bicycles have been donated by club members as they upgrade to newer models. Others have been given to Grenier by shop customers. 

“We get about 10 bikes a year donated to the shop,” he said.

The average cost to rehab a bike is about $100, he said.

New Beginnings is another agency where some of their youths depend on bikes for transportation. 

“I use my bike for pretty much everything,” Kyle DuBay said.

She lives at New Beginning’s Transitional Living Program home in Lewiston and uses her bike to “go get food, go to the store, whatever.”


“I try to choose my bike over anything else. It’s easier on the staff,” DuBay said.

Youth worker Bob Rowe said New Beginnings has had about a dozen youths over the past year taking advantage of the bike program. 

The former executive director of New Beginnings said that bicycles not only serve a transportation purpose for the youths he works with, they also serve as a tool that helps them transition into adulthood.

Rowe tells the them, “That’s your bike. If you take care of it, you can keep it.”

“Bikes are a great tool for us to use to help build confidence,” Rowe said.

“For me, John (Grenier) has made that possible,” Rowe said. “I don’t know anything about bikes. John has been a very generous guy.”


The bicycling club has been involved in after-school bike programs on both sides of the Androscoggin River, as well.

The club has a trailer full of mountain bikes used throughout the school year at Auburn Middle School, Sherwood Heights Elementary School in Auburn and Bruce M. Whittier Middle School in Poland. The club bought five new mountain bikes last spring to accommodate smaller elementary school pupils.

The club provided 10 used bikes for the after-school program at Montello Elementary School in Lewiston and gave away 12 bicycles to youths during the Great Falls Criterium, an annual bike race held in downtown Lewiston’s Kennedy Park. 

Grenier said that one kid in the race “rode with two bald tires, no brakes and gears that did not work.”

Part of the club’s mission is to get more kids on bikes, Grenier said.

“We are not just a bunch of skinny bike racers in Lycra; we want to be more than that,” Grenier said.


“How do we peel kids away from video games and get them outside riding a bike?” he said. “The biggest enemy to biking is video games.”

Giving children a bike helmet is one way to expose them to riding a bike, but “we did not just want to give bike helmets out. Helmets are great, but a helmet does not get them riding a bike,” Grenier said. “Giving someone a bike does.” 

Joao Rodrigues Victor, 17, is one of the youths in the Lewiston-Auburn area who use bicycles maintained by the Maine Cycling Club. Victor rides one of the bikes from Lewiston High School to his after-school job at the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center Food Pantry. The center has a fleet of bikes that are used by those in the center’s various youth programs. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

What: The Maine Cycling Club is looking for potential bike rack locations in Lewiston and Auburn. 

Where: Schools, businesses, banks, etc.

Cost: Free. MCC will provide a rack at no cost if labor to install the bike rack is provided. 


Deven Miles, a graduate of the New Beginnings transitional living program, picks up a bike from Rainbow Bicycle in Lewiston. Miles is one of a dozen or so teenagers over the past year who have taken advantage of the bikes donated to New Beginnings and repaired by mechanics at Rainbow Bicycle through the Maine Cycling Club. Miles will use the bike as his primary mode of transportation. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

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