photos courtesy of Mike Flueckiger
Are we surprised that this little boy, sporting his bike injuries 60 or so years ago in a little town in Indiana, grew up to become an emergency room physician who constantly stressed the importance of safety precautions?
Meet Mike Flueckiger. I met Mike at the recent National Bike Summit as part of the Georgia delegation advocating with others across the USA for congressional bills designed to make it safer to ride bikes in the USA.
I followed up with Mike to find out more about him and thoroughly enjoyed our conversation this week.
Recently retired at age 70 after years in the emergency room followed by serving as Medical Director of Georgia-based Phoenix Air, a medical evacuation company that provides worldwide air ambulance services, Mike loves “all things bike” (especially mountain biking). He’s been doing bike advocacy work and fixing bikes seemingly forever. Over the years, he donated bikes he repaired to bike co-ops such as SOPO in Atlanta, churches, and other places that provide them to those in need for free or at a reasonable price.
My jaw dropped, however, when I heard what he’s doing with Global Spokes, an organization that provides bikes, helmets, locks, and lights to refugees-of-war in Clarkston, Georgia (the most diverse square mile in the USA — here, take a tour).
I hadn’t heard of Global Spokes*. However, I’ve done some work in Clarkston over the years regarding both agriculture and bikes (including seven weeks of bike lessons to two girls from the Democratic Republic of Congo this past fall), and the need Global Spokes is meeting is real and urgent, especially since a prior co-op named Community Cycles closed years ago.
The Global Spokes website indicates they have donated more than 350 bikes to date, and Mike told me that about 100 of them went to students at the Fugees Academy. Global Spokes also worked a bit with the Global Village Project (school for refugee girls) just before the pandemic.
Global Spokes halted donations during the pandemic, however, but Mike kept busy repairing his neighbors’ bikes during the biggest bike boom since the 1970s — which, by the way, is when Mike rode in the Little 500** bike race at Indiana University in 1971!
Mike considers it fortuitous that when his carpeted basement recently flooded, his wife and he decided to go all-out and turn it into a dedicated “bike shop.” He, of course, named it The Spin Doctor Bike Shop! Mike is hoping that bike donations in Clarkston can start again soon. And he is ready for it.
I asked how I can help right now. He says he’d like to connect with more organizations in Clarkston that might benefit from bikes. I contacted Betsy Eggers, of course, because Betsy knows everyone. My head is already spinning from excitement about Betsy’s response. So next week, those two gotta connect. (Plus, there’s another story about Mike still up my sleeve that it’s not yet time to reveal. Let’s just say he is changing, maybe even saving, yet another life.)
And now we get to, once again, trust the journey.
*Global Spokes started in 2018 as a nonprofit organization that serves the local community. It is currently in plans to create, additionally, a for-profit bike shop to fund the nonprofit by catering to cyclists passing through Clarkston on a popular path that runs from Atlanta to Stone Mountain. Stay tuned!
** The Little 500 is the bike race featured in the still-great-after-all-these-years movie Breaking Away.
UPDATE 10/21/21 I finally met Mike in person! See Small Things with Great Love (What Happened When I Finally Met Mike)
Meet Greg Masterson (Metro Atlanta Cycling Club)
Meet Marjon Manitius (Brookhaven Bike Alliance)
Meet Byron Rushing (Atlanta Regional Commission)
Meet Creighton Bryan (Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy)
Meet Betsy Eggers and Jack Honderd (Peachtree Creek Trail and Brookhaven Bike Aliance)
Jon’s Leap of Faith (Street Minister and Bike Saver Extraordinaire)
A Second(er) or Two about Why You’re Needed (City of Dunwoody)
Meet Matt (Painter of New Cycle Track by Mercedes Benz Stadium)
Meet Dr. Walter May (Reinhardt University)
Meet Alex Gee (World Bicycle Relief)
Meet Shawn Deangelo Walton on the Corner (Everybody Eats ATL and WeCycle)
Meet Emmett McNair (tour guide extraordinaire)
Meet 31 Women Making the USA More Welcoming for Riding Bikes (the “You Go Girl!’ Series)