IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. — If you’ve passed through Idaho Springs this summer, you might have noticed a new gold rush.
Gold bikes have been popping up all over town and they are free for the sharing.
“If anyone would have asked me if I thought I’d be doing this, I would have laughed,” said Santiago Garcia III, who is the man behind the bikes and the gold spray paint that identifies them.
Garcia is a professional mountain biker and owner of A Culture of Speed bike shop, which specializes in high-end, performance mountain bikes and parts. But lately he has begun volunteering his time, working on bikes that are worth next to nothing.
“Typically, these bikes go straight to the dump because they don’t know what to do with them,” Garcia said. “They can’t fix them.”
Santiago used his knowledge and tools to get the bikes back in working order, and decided to start a community bike share with no strings attached.
“Why is it called a bike share if you pay for it?” Garcia said. “That makes no sense to me. If you’re going to share a bike, then share a bike.”
Yes, the bikes are free to use and so is the final touch.
“This bike does not want to be blue,” Garcia said. “Blue is a very sad color. This wants to be a podium bike.”
Garcia said he decided to paint the bikes gold because that is the color he strives for when racing. He also likes the historical connection to his gold rush home. Visitors and residents both seem to like the shine.
“It’s like being a kid on a bike so … it’s awesome,” said Stephanie Braun, who took a quick ride while passing through during a trip from Cincinnati.
Trivi Woods lives in town and said he and other kids feel proud to take each one for a spin.
“I feel pretty awesome because a lot of people complement me,” Woods said.
But he said his appreciation goes far beyond the paint job.
“(Garcia) helped me get a bike because I didn’t have a bike,” Woods said. “I like riding bikes a lot.”
Garcia said that’s the whole idea.
“I look at bicycles like people, you know, all different personalities and different styles and the main thing that a bike wants in its life is to be ridden,” he said. “I had another lady thank me, she had a DUI so she would have been walking, probably about a mile and a half to work every day, and she thanked me for the gold bike. She uses that to get to work now.”
So far, Garcia has commissioned 53 gold bikes for the exchange. He said two businesses have also offered to add gold bike racks to keep them organized.