Volunteer Spotlight: Joe Greulich

Joe & CranksJoe is the Community Cycling Center’s unofficial oral historian. He has been volunteering with us for nearly a decade, a longer tenure than any current staff member.

Joe has done just about everything. He has repaired bikes and shared his skills with others. He has expertly fitted helmets and led bike safety classes. With his trusty old truck and trailer, he has hauled thousands of bikes to and from events. He even joins us in the Cycle Oregon tent, coming straight from grueling 80-mile rides to help us charge electronic devices and raise money.

We all consider Joe a dedicated supporter and a dear friend, and are grateful for the chance to work alongside him.

How long have you been volunteering at the Community Cycling Center? How did you start?

I believe I have been volunteering about nine years. It was in the fall when I began. The Community Cycling Center sent word to the Vancouver Bike Club and indicated that they needed help fixing Holiday Bike Drive (HBD) bikes. I also helped with the HBD when they were looking for people to haul bikes. I have a pick-up truck and a pretty good sized trailer, so there I was.

I hauled bikes the first year. The next year the Community Cycling Center opened up a branch in Vancouver at the corner of E Mill Plain and North Garrison Road in a donated storefront. I helped make steel shelves and work benches in order to set up the place, and then we started working on kids bikes.

After a while the Community Cycling Center moved the shop to West 9th and Main Street in downtown Vancouver. We fixed bikes there through one HBD season. When the Vancouver shop closed, I began to volunteer on Alberta Street.

Why do you volunteer here?

I do it because I like fixing the bikes and to see the happy children get a Christmas bike. I also consider Tuesday nights a great night with a bunch of friends. I enjoy meeting people and showing the new people what needs to be done.

I also enjoy learning from Gram. He is patient and always willing to teach me something new.

What is your favorite thing to do as a volunteer?

Now that I am a yellow shirt bike mechanic (certified to lead repairs at Drop-In Night), I enjoy working with the new volunteers and showing them how to fix HBD bicycles so we can make lots of children happy.

You have been volunteering for quite some time. What’s your favorite story?

When the Community Cycling Center did the second HBD bike giveaway in Vancouver, the box truck pulled up along-side the building to unload bikes and died. So I called a friend of mine and we cleaned the battery terminals and replaced some parts in the distributor. You could have grown mushrooms in the battery terminals they were so wet! Miraculously, we were able to start the truck up and it made the trip back to Portland. I didn’t get to spend any time on the giveaway until late in the afternoon because I had spent the morning fixing the truck.

What has changed the most in the time that you have been volunteering here?

The whole place is organized now! Each bike is recorded as it goes through the system. Before the bike tag system, the bikes were not in the best shape. We would work until late into the night on Saturday before the HBD event fixing bikes for the next day. Now things are very organized, planned, and executed. Volunteers all know what needs to be done and they have the tools to get the job done efficiently.

Tell us about your dream bike.

I already own my dream bike. It is about 15 years old and I have taken it on lots of Cycle Oregon rides. It is now my winter bike and through the skills I have learned at the Community Cycling Center I have been able to keep it on the road.

What do you like to do when you’re not here?

I ride my bike all the time to do errands and business. I commute to meetings. I also take my bike with me when I travel, which I really enjoy.

What would your bio-pic be called? Who would play you?

The movie would be called “Scrooge” and I would be played by Jack Nicholson.

Connect with Us

Hours: Open Wednesday-Friday 11AM-7PM & Saturday/Sunday 12PM-5PM. Closed Monday & TuesdayBike Shop Address: 1700 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211

Phone: 503.287.8786