HAMILTON – Tony Neaves is on the hunt for bicycles no one cares about any more.
“When you drive around the valley, you see them everywhere,” Neaves said. “They are in people’s backyards with grass growing up through the spokes. They’re stuck in someone’s garage. There are so many dead bikes that need a new home.”
Since 2000, the Hamilton man has made it his mission to collect all those unused bicycles and haul them to Missoula’s Free Cycles operation.
“I don’t want to see them end up in the landfill,” Neaves said. “The bikes don’t even have to be working. They can fix them up in Missoula or use parts of them to make a new bike for someone. Some might even end up as an art project.”
However they end up being used, it’s far better than the alternative.
“At least they end up getting recycled,” Neaves said.
Since taking that first load of bikes to Missoula in 2000, Neaves figures that he’s hauled nearly 1,400 to the nonprofit organization.
“I brought about 140 bikes last year,” he said. “I have a blast doing this. Free Cycles comes up with some really cool things from the bikes that are donated.”
Neaves figures that he can get about 150 bikes on his trailer.
The next load is already starting to pile up in his front yard at 283 N. Sapphire St. in Hamilton, which is just off Kurtz Lane.
“People generally just drop them off in my yard,” he said. “There is a never-ending pile around here. I collect them until I have enough of a load to make the trip to Missoula.”
If people have an old bike that they want to donate, Neaves said they can give him a call at 406-381-3943.
“If they have a bunch, I could come and pick them up,” he said.