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Waco Bicycle Club repairs bicycles for the homeless and the community

A nonprofit Waco cycling club showcased its talents at a Project Homeless Connect event at the Waco Convention Center on Tuesday, spending the morning repairing bicycles for those in need.

Founded over 30 years ago, the Waco Bicycle Club has a branch of members of First Baptist Church Waco who have been repairing bicycles as a form of pastoral care since the summer of 2021. The group set up and worked on several bikes at Tuesday’s event. The event is organized by the Heart of Texas Homeless Coalition to provide a range of services and opportunities to connect with local relief organizations in one location.

The Waco Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children and Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas were among the 15 social service agencies on site Tuesday. There were also booths where people could pick up things like wipes or socks, most of which were provided by Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness through the Heart of Texas Behavior Health Network.

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Larry Gurley, one of the leaders of First Baptist’s bicycle ministry, said the group usually receives bicycle donations from Baylor University. Baylor donates bikes left behind on campus by former students, he said.

“We’ve repaired about 300 bikes since we started in 2021,” Gurley said. “We now provide those bikes to Baylor international students, Mission Waco, the Dobey Center for Youth and this (homeless) group.”

The group operates a shop in the basement of the First Baptist Church and sources replacement parts at a discount from local bike shops, Gurley said.







Homeless people connect bicycles

Larry Gurley works in the basement of First Baptist Church Waco, where members of the church and the Waco Bicycle Club repair donated bicycles to distribute to various groups in the area.


Rod Aydelotte, Tribune-Herald


Gurley said it was “pretty rewarding” to spend Tuesday morning repairing bikes for free.

“We’re using something we’re pretty good at to help the community,” he said.

Rusty Hansgen, a longtime member of the Waco Bicycle Club, said their group is pretty self-explanatory.

“(We are) a group of people who just enjoy cycling and we like to ride with like-minded people,” Hansgen said.

Hansgen has been with the club for over 30 years and says he enjoys riding bikes for himself and also fixing bikes for others in the community. It also keeps him outside and active, Hansgen says.

“For health reasons alone, I want to try to stay in shape, so I usually ride my mountain bike three or four times a week,” Hansgen said. “I ride quite a bit at Cameron Park. … We just enjoy riding bikes and making friends with other people who enjoy the same thing.”

The mission of the Waco Bicycle Club, according to its website, is to “promote the love of cycling by providing communication and camaraderie among cyclists, developing and maintaining trails for private and government landowners, providing safety education for schools, churches and other community organizations, and supporting individual cyclists and cycling-related charitable activities.”

In 2017, the association was officially granted the status of a non-profit organization.







Homeless people connect bicycles

Members of the bike club work on a repair as part of the Homeless Connect project at the Waco Convention Center on Tuesday.


Rod Aydelotte, Tribune-Herald


Hansgen and Gurley agreed that Cameron Park is one of the best places for mountain biking in Central Texas, if not the entire state. They also said there are good 8 to 10 miles of trails in Woodway Park along Lake Waco.

“But Cameron Park has the best and most challenging hiking trails,” Gurley said.

Gurley jokingly described the group as “just a bunch of old guys,” but said “very deep friendships have developed from it.”

“We’re a group in the club that actually takes two trips a year,” Hansgen said. “We travel all over the country, mostly to state parks and national parks and so on.”

“And if one of us gets hurt, there are still enough people there to carry us out,” joked Hansgen.







Homeless people connect bicycles

Rusty Hansgen, a member of the Waco Bicycle Club, joins other volunteers in repairing bicycles as part of Project Homeless Connect on Tuesday.


Rod Aydelotte, Tribune-Herald


For those who would like to ride with members of the Waco Bicycle Club, the club offers three mountain bike tours per week, Sundays at 2 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 a.m. Hansgen is one of the tour leaders for these weekly tours, all of which start at the Redwood Shelter in Cameron Park.

The club also organizes weekly road rides on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. For more information on times and locations, visit wacobicycleclub.com.

Gurley said anyone who would like to donate a bike can contact First Baptist Church Waco at [email protected] or 254-752-3000.







Homeless people connect bicycles

The state’s transition out of homelessness assistance projects, managed locally by the Heart of Texas Behavior Health Network, were among more than a dozen social service organizations offering resources during Tuesday’s event.


Rod Aydelotte, Tribune-Herald








Homeless people connect bicycles

Nicole Wiscombe, director of housing and homeless services for the Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network, speaks with others at Project Homeless Connect on Tuesday.


Rod Aydelotte, Tribune-Herald








Homeless people connect bicycles

Rusty Hansgen, a member of the Waco Bicycle Club, joins other volunteers in repairing bicycles as part of Project Homeless Connect on Tuesday.


Rod Aydelotte, Tribune-Herald