If you've been living in Melbourne and you find yourself walking everywhere, hop on the number 96 tram heading towards East Bruswick this weekend! A five minute walk from the end of the line, you'll find the CERES Community Environment Park.
As you head on in down a dirt path, you'll find several strange monuments erected, made of disused, or should I say, reused bicycle wheels. You'll also find Warrick and Pete, two of several friendly volunteers that manage the chaos that is the bike shed. Make sure you give them a warm hello and a big smile! They will be the indispensable wisdom on your quest to building (or rebuilding) a bicycle. Countless pre-loved bikes, like puppies at the pet shelter just begging for a new home lie stacked all around. Since nobody is silly enough to throw away a perfectly good bike, come expecting to get your hands dirty! Alternatively, if you have an old bike at home that needs resuscitation don't hesitate to bring it along. Keep in mind that you will not be allowed to bring a bicycle on the tram unless it is dismantled. Your best bet is to place the frame and the removed wheels in a box. I've found that giant Plasma TV boxes are perfect for this.
I'd highly recommend arriving at 11 a.m, opening time, to get dibs on better frames. Keep in mind they are only open Fridays to Sundays! You'll also want as much time as possible to work on your bike to get it road worthy by the end of the day as they do close at 5. If you're good with your hands, you should easily manage to build a basic bicycle by the end of the day. However, if time does not permit, you can label your bike and come back another day to finish the job! But be warned! Stickers on bikes tend to get misplaced and so do bikes with "dibs" on them. With regard to tools, the bike shed is well equipped with at least two of almost every bicycle related tool there is. Grease, rags and cleaning agents are also provided but do pack a little lunch for yourself as well a large bottle of water.
Don't be afraid to take full advantage of these facilities as you are expected to purchase a membership for a mere five dollars. Depending on the type of frame you pick, expect to pay $30 for a mountain bike frame to upwards of $70 for rarer vintage frames. You'll only pay when you ride your bike away! The shed also stocks many standard replaceable parts which you might prefer new as opposed to scavenged such as inner tubes and ball bearings. They buy much of these parts in bulk and sell them almost at cost price. You'll also be able to purchase some basic accessories like lights from them. If you're new to this, the humble bike can be a very complicated machine. So do not hesitate to ask for help, just be sure to do it with a big smile and be prepared to be an eager learner! Last but not least, don't forget to have loads of fun!
At the end of the day, you should be applying simple harmonic motion to head home, or to the nearest pub for a refreshing beer. Grab a friend, bring a helmet and head on down to CERES this weekend. For under $100 and a day well spent, you'll be cruising around the city on a beautiful bicycle you've granted second life.