Between the whirling sounds of tools scraping metal and a classic hip-hop Pandora station flowing out through speakers, Aaron Rourke drowns out all outside noise and concentrates on replacing a broken tire valve. He looks like he’s done this his entire life, when in fact he’s learning as he goes along.
“I’m currently taking a do-it-yourself class … even now I’m learning so much,” he said. Rourke is the 26-year-old bike program manager at the Outdoor Program and an environmental studies major at the University of Oregon.
His fingertips are black with grease and his eyes gaze over each individual nut and bolt carefully, spinning the tire to make sure it lines up just right with the frame and doesn’t hit the fender. He presses his ear against the metal and wonders why there’s a faint squeaking coming from pressing on the pedal.
The problem doesn’t faze him. He lists out loud his step-by-step instructions, but to the average person with no clue about bicycle culture, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense. He casually rubs the bike chain with grease and the squeaking disappears.
A Californian native from Half Moon Bay, a coastal town south of San Francisco, Rourke has been involved with cycling ever since childhood, riding with his father and sister or racing friends on mountain bikes. Today, he participates in Cyclocross [email protected]@http://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/cyclocross-marathons@@
He traveled abroad to New Zealand, Australia and Vietnam and taught English to children in Thailand before moving back to the states to study. He started working at the Outdoor Program this fall term.
The Outdoor Program has been striving to make the UO and Eugene more bike-friendly and to make commuting for cyclists easier. Recently the Outdoor Program set up mobile repair stations across campus that offers tools to fix bikes, as well as how-to videos for cyclists caught with a flat tire or loose screw.
“You can come in to any of our self-service stations and, if you have your smart phone, scan a QR code on the side which allow you to watch bicycle repair videos and come with plenty of tools for minor fixes,” Rourke said.
Repair stations can be found in spots around campus such as in front of the Outdoor Program on 18th Avenue, in front of the Knight Library, on 13th and Kincaid, on Franklin Boulevard, in front of the Global Scholars Hall and at the EMU.
At the end of the day, watching local and international students come in who have never experienced cycling, and knowing he and the Outdoor Program are “making a difference in the transportation culture of both campus and of Eugene, is pretty rewarding,” he said.