'Bike Man of Flagler County' repairs worn bikes for needy

Flat tires, rusty chains, worn parts no challenge for gifted mechanic

BUNNELL, Fla. – Joe Golan, also known as The Bike Man of Flagler County, is this week's Getting Results Award winner.

Golan sets up shop every Wednesday at the First United Methodist Church of Bunnell, where he spends hours repairing bikes for the homeless and less fortunate. 

Tool boxes, tires, tubes and mounds of spare parts line the covered walkway where he works.

His greasy hands struggle to maneuver a rusty chain and gears.

"The bikes are sometimes so rusted it's a challenge to get the parts apart," he said. "They get left out in the rain a lot."

Golan partners with the Sheltering Tree, a nonprofit that provides meals and cold weather shelter for the area's needy. 

"We're not here to restore bikes to their original condition," Golan said. "We're here to get them functional and safe."

Golan will repair eight to 10 bikes in a typical day.

"If it was made by man, it can be fixed by man," he joked. "I've used that saying my whole life." 

The retired electrical worker, who moved down to Central Florida from New York, said he's always been gifted with mechanical skills. 

Seven years ago, he heard that the Flagler charity, Christmas Come True, was short 40 bikes for the holidays. Golan purchased a few kids bikes and dropped them off.

"They asked if I could help assemble them," she said. "I've been helping the charity ever since." 

Golan brought a bike to the Sheltering Tree two years ago and noticed the need their clients had getting worn bikes repaired.

"They asked me if I could stick around and fix a few," he said.

That was 1,000 bikes ago. 

"There's not a whole lot of public transportation here in Flagler County so people who can't afford a car, they depend on bicycles to get around."

Vicki Latellier, the vice chair of operations for the Sheltering Tree, said her clients look forward to the service Golan offers.

"He's a blessing to us," she said. "He doesn't just repair the bikes. He makes connections with people. They know they have a place that they can come for that friendship, that fellowship."

Why does Golan do it?

"I'm a guy with a bike stand and I have fun doing it," he said. "It's just a need I saw that had to be fulfilled."

Golan said he's always looking for used bikes and parts. Donations can be made by contacting the Sheltering Tree of Flagler.

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