Meet Woody Woodrich, tired and true volunteer throughout the years. Woody became invaluable to us once we moved into our warehouses in Pentagon City. Woody helped us out by grabbing items left at bike shops over on the Hill which saved us the hassle of driving into the city. More importantly he kept us awash in tubes and tires.
Back then we were also getting a ton of tires from Capital Bike Share, but that was only one size, one type. Our partners are in constant need of tires and especially tubes of every size and type to keep those donated bikes rolling. Most notably many partners urgently request 20" and 24" tubes and tires. Any guesses as to why? (there are a couple answers here)
The simple, quick answer is that most bike shops do repairs on adult size bikes. And we receive most (nearly ALL) our tubes and tires from our shop partners. Therefore, we have a shortage of tubes and tires for all bikes under 26", which is your standard mountain bike.
Bikes for the World attacks this problem by supplying our partners with patch kits from time to time to help repair those old tubes with holes. The reality is, the quality of rubber for American standards is far superior than other countries, making our used tubes even more valuable than the ones they receive brand new in some African countries.
The issue we have locally with collecting used tires and tubes is space and time. Distance and traffic. Pick your poison. Bike shops replace hundreds of tubes a month, not to mention tires. These can pile up fast and shops are often pressed for space as it is. Given our restrictions on how often we can swing by any one shop, they aren't always able to store discarded tubes and tires for us.
In DC, Woody makes that happen. He drops in on several shops and bike rental businesses on the regular and collects what they've saved for us. When we moved out of Virginia up to Rockville we were worried that might affect this relationship. But since we still have our trailers parked down in Pentagon City, Woody is able to take a load down there every so often and leave them for us, which also helps with our storage limitations in Rockville.
The spare tubes and tires are not only invaluable to our mechanics overseas, but they help us pack our containers safely here in Rockville as well. Before we place a board over the first layer of bikes, we load them up with tubes and tires which act as a cushion between the next layer of bikes. It also helps even out the wood, making the platform more stable for our loader (often Jonathan) while he hoists bikes into the container.
Woody has been collecting and delivering tubes and tires (and occasionally bikes) for over five years now. This recognition, we admit, is loooong overdue! We haven't kept a running count, but he may have, as he reports every single tube delivered...it must be in the 10,000s.