“I don’t want to just do stuff,” RD. says, bending over the rusty derailleur of an old Schwinn. “I want to bring it up.” He had been struggling with addiction,in Fort Collins when he decided it was time to clean up and get back to his normal life. He went to Weld County Veteran’s Services in Greeley, where he was told about Fort Lyon and put on the waiting list. “This doesn’t sound like a normal place,” he remembers thinking. He had visions of a military prison.
What he saw was something completely different, and it fit in with his own philosophy. Getting clean was only part of it, Fort Lyon was about bringing people up. RD quickly realized he could get the support he would need to get healthy and to begin a program repairing bicycles for Fort Lyon residents while he was there. “It’s a healthy thing,” he says. “Gets people out and about. Soon as they get on a bike, you see a change in them.” With the blessing of the staff at Fort Lyon, he got online and put out a call for donations of bicycles and parts. The responses poured in.
RD didn’t limit himself to rescuing old bicycles. He also made time to attend Fort Lyon’s veteran’s meetings, and soon he and the others decided to take it to the next level. They contacted the American Legion and started a new post at Fort Lyon, the only post of its kind in the world, whose Legionnaires are all formerly homeless or in recovery. The post’s Honor Guard now leads parades around the community.
The bike shop and the American Legion charter are legacies he will leave behind when he moves on from Fort Lyon. His hope is to one day set up a bed and breakfast, something he knows wouldn’t have been possible the way he used to live.,
Back at the little shop, RD spins the wheel of the bike on the workbench and says, “These old bicycles are kinda like us here. We’re a little bit older, we’re rusty, but we haven’t been taken to the salvage yard yet because we’re still restorable.”