TCBC Bike University Program: Free Bikes 4 Kidz – Christian Castillo, Warehouse Operations Manager – Wednesday, November 15, 2023, at 07:00 pm. See the Registration information below!
Christian will provide an overview and history of the nationwide Free Bikes 4 Kidz program, the operations in Minnesota, how the program is funded, ways to volunteer, and how he personally became involved in this wonderful program for children.
Free Bikes 4 Kidz is always looking for volunteers, and he will talk about the opportunities that are available. Thanks to John Benda for arranging this program and coordinating TCBC Volunteers for the program. See the links below for further information and how to volunteer.
Christian began riding at age 2. He knows he is certain about this because he remembers enjoying crashing his tricycle into trees before his (3 years younger) brother was born. For the next 13 years, his passion for riding (and crashing) continued to grow until at the age of 15, he decided to change bikes for airplanes and joined the Chilean Air Force. He served for 11 years as a pilot and logistics officer.
In 1998, while commissioned in Iraq, he met Karen, his Scottish wife, who at the time was working in Baghdad for the World Health Organization.
In 1999, he left Chile and got married in London. A year later, while in the UK, he obtained an MBA and was recruited by Cummins Engine, a company that in 2003 would move him to Mexico.
In Mexico, he learned to ride in the mountains surrounding the city of San Luis Potosí, a place he deeply loves because his first two children were born there. While there, he and a few friends went to create what would become today one of the largest mountain bike groups in central Mexico.
In 2007, Cummins moved Christian to Fridley, MN. Once in the Twin Cities, his love for cycling continued to grow. First, he mountain biked and supported Minnesota Off-Road Cyclist’s efforts, volunteering in some of the metro area trails. For a while, he joined the Free Ride/Downhill community and competed in the Jolly Rogers Downhill race series. He stopped racing as he didn’t stand a chance against riders who, on average, were less than half of his age (but he did have a ton of fun).
In 2009, Christian nomad days were over as he and Karen welcomed their 3rd child and incorporated a new nationality into their already tri-national family. He was now stuck in Minnesota.
In 2011, while volunteering at FB4K, he met the charity founder Terry Esau, who invited him to ride with his friends. Road riding was a new affair and Christian quickly discovered that his 1972, 20 pounds of steel & 8 lbs. of rust, six-speed bike was a bit outdated. After being dropped several times, he knew he needed to review his riding strategy and most importantly, improve his form. About a year later, while training in CR6, he was picked up by the Thermo King Cycling group which -since then, regrets letting him tag along for a ride as they have not been able to get rid of him.
Between 2016 and 2021, Christian and a few friends formed a multinational cycling group that contained Colombians, Spaniards, Venezuelans, Scottish, Guatemalans, Mexicans, French, Americans, and one Chilean.
He has competed twice in the Minnesota State Road Race championship Cat 5 and Seniors, managing not to get last on both occasions. He has done the Horribly Hilly Hundreds 6 times (talk about masochism), reached the summit of Mount Evans and Pikes Peak, and belongs to the Broken Collarbone and Ribs Brotherhood. His current speed record still holds at 67mph. Other fun facts about Christian include: leading a military parade, solo skydiving, crash landing a glider on a hill, being featured in GCN, painting his own bikes and his helmets,
Last year, Christian joined FB4K as a mechanic but just a couple of weeks into the job, was asked to lead the charity operation for the rest of the season. This year, Christian was called back, and he is currently leading the warehouse operations for the 2023 season.
Besides his family and his art (he is a painter), cycling is his only other major passion. Over the last 20 years, he has become a better cyclist, a bike mechanic, an advocate for cyclist rights (and duties), loves helping new people to get in the sport, and has a special interest in learning about all the scientific and technical aspects of riding and bike maintenance.
Free Bikes 4 Kidz – https://fb4k.org/
Free Bikes 4 Kidz Minnesota – https://fb4kmn.org/
Registration: You must register for the Zoom Program in advance by going to this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUqduysqzIpHdPf1mbeR9bgAYlm9Ooz8R9E
After Program Information:
On Wednesday, November 15th, Bike U had its first session of our season. Our guest was Christian Castillo, who is the Warehouse Operations Manager for Free Bikes 4 Kidz (FB4k’s) in the Twin Cities. Some of you may remember Christian from last year’s annual banquet, where he took the time to meet and chat with many of us and had a chance to talk briefly about FB4k’s.
During the Bike U session, he gave a bit of the history of FB4k’s and explained their mission – basically to repurpose the thousands of bikes kids grow out of every year and get them into the hands of kids that don’t have a bike and would love to get one. Christian also discussed how FB4k’s rounds up the bikes and gets them ready through a process of cleaning, prepping, and wrenching before they go through “quality control” and are deemed suitable for riding.
TCBC and other organizations put in thousands of volunteer hours taking on these volunteer roles and can also assist in the bike giveaways where kids’ eyes light up as they select and try out their bikes. It was an enlightening session and will, hopefully, motivate our TCBC membership to get involved in one more way to share their passion for biking with others.
Thanks to John Benda for this wrap-up of the session.
Please follow the link below to the Zoom recording of the session on the TCBC YouTube Channel: