Essay Project 2021: Bruce Bennet the Bike Guy
By: Drew Morris
The worst feeling in the world is planning to go on a bike ride around Portland’s 9 miles of trail on a nice sunny day, only to realize that you have a flat tire but also don’t have the tools to fix it. There is one man in Portland that will put air in your tires for free because it is something that gives him great joy. That man is Bruce Bennet the Bike guy. Have you ever wondered how the Portland bike guy has come to be? A man that families have gone to, to give kids the childhood experience that every child deserves, a new bike. He has been helping kids fix their bikes for over 50 years. Mr. Bennet fixes and restores bikes while also doing woodwork. He has been helping kids in the community get back on their bikes ever since he was just a high school student himself.
Bruce Bennet is a simple man doing something he loves that brings joy to children's faces. He’s been living in Portland for 68 years and ever since then he has been helping children in Portland fix their bikes. Mr.Bennet is able to fix just about anything on a bike from flat tires to broken gears. When asked in an interview about why he enjoys fixing bikes he said that the reason he does it is because of, "the joy on the kid’s faces when they are able to get back on their bike and ride around.”
Behind his house, in his workshop, is where he fixes up donated or broken bikes and does his woodworking. Mr. Bennet takes all types of bikes and the ones that he does not use, he recycles for steel, which can be worth up to fifty or sixty dollars. Some bikes that he fixes up are sold for new parts to keep his small business alive. Before we even started the interview he wanted to emphasize that what he does with fixing bikes and woodwork is more of a hobby than a small business. He rarely charges people for fixing their bikes, he mostly charges them for parts and not the labor. While according to their website a tune-up at Bill's Bike and Run cost $70, but Mr. Bennet only charges twenty dollars.
Bruce is my Great Uncle and over the years I have witnessed firsthand the joy he brings to children's faces once they are able to get back on their bikes. Bruce has been very beneficial to the community because of the bikes he has donated, the wooden games he has made for St. Pats Fall Festival, fixing bikes for free, and his time that he donated to St. Pat’s Athletic Association. Mr. Bennet is a St. Pats alumni from the class of 1964 he has been very beneficial to the athletic program by doing scoreboard for St. Pats’ basketball for 38 years and Chain Crew for football games for 15 years.
“Happiness is not about how much you can receive from others; it’s about what you can give to others”(Boston). Being Bruce’s great-nephew I have seen all the good things he has done for the community, to me, he is the definition of selfless.
Cpmarkoff, et al. “Find Trails.” TrailLink, 1 Oct. 2020, www.traillink.com/trail/portland-riverwalk/#:~:text=The Portland Riverwalk ushers visitors,9 miles of paved trail.
Bennet, Bruce Personal Interview. 29 December 2020.
Inc, SmartEtailing. “Bike Tune-Ups, Service & Repair.” Bike Tune-Ups, Service & Repair - Bill's Bike & Run | Bicycle and Running Store, www.billsbikeandrun.com/about/service-repair-pg63.htm.
“Bicycle Recycling: Used Bicycle Business.” Bicycle Recycling | Used Bicycle Business, everywaytomakemoney.com/bicycle-recycling.html#:~:text=If you work the low,$50 to $60 at most.
wyco, Written by. “Poems – Self Care.” Musings at Random., 6 Apr. 2018, shadowofgevros.com/2018/04/06/poems-self-care/.
Photo: Bruce Bennet and his bike shed/workshop. Photo, taken by Drew Morris.
This essay is part of a writing project by students in Chandra Polasek’s ELA class at Portland High School. The project asked students to focus on elements of their own town while getting students engaged with the community. The essays were written with the intention of being published in The Portland Beacon.