Every year, thousands of bikes in Hampton Roads find their way to the trash. Usually, because they are metal, they go to scrapyards along with dishwashers, lawnmowers, file cabinets and old fences, where they will be melted down for their steel.
The lucky ones are found by Andrew Hund.
Hund, 30, is a native of Norfolk. He attended Granby High School and then Radford University. He's done a lot of biking. He was sponsored by Colley Ave Bike shop in `93 and `94 and raced BMX for them. He also competed in downhill mountain biking at Jefferson National Forest while at Radford. He worked as a mechanic at New Wheel Bike shop in Radford for a couple of years too. But after college he went into the family business. For the last eight years he's been working at Old Dominion Metals, a scrapyard in Hampton owned by his father that buys metal scrap and recycles it.
At the scrapyard, Andrew kept his eye open for bikes.
"I was the one who was responsible for crushing the metal and processing it," he said, "and I couldn't bring myself to see bikes ever get crushed.¿ He made a deal with his dad, the owner of the business, so that he could set aside any bikes he found. After a few years, he'd amassed hundreds of derelict, unwanted bikes.
"I have a whole warehouse full of them," he said.
A few weeks ago he opened Hund's ReCycle Factory on Colley Avenue at 50th Street in Norfolk. The shop is in an aging bungalow with an inviting front porch, a fitting home for the old bikes inside. There's an old-fashioned woman's bike strapped to the porch roof.
Hund explained, "The bicycle on the roof represents my grandmother, who passed away last year. It was her bike. I put it up there not only as an eye catcher, but as a symbol that she is watching over me, and I want to give her a good view to look over the city."
With a proud grin, he led me through small rooms packed with bicycles in various states of repair. Bianchi, Fuji and Reynolds frames hung from hooks in the ceiling. Kids BMX bikes sat packed side-by-side in a room off the rear. It looks for all the world like a half-way house for recovering bikes, which it is, an unglamourous but hopeful endeavor aimed at rehabilitating this crowd of discarded objects, preparing them to return to life on the streets.
"I have a saying," said Hund, "A bike is a terrible thing to waste," and I also say that `every bike tells a story." I basically bring these bikes back to life and keep them going."
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Colley Ave. and 50th Street, near the 7-11 and Aardvark Glass