By Laura Smith
Rico Lighthouse didn’t set out to be the first bicycle-propelled bike repair station.
“The idea just kind of popped into my head,” Lighthouse said.
A light bulb had gone off. One that got Rico out of his house, and into the community, doing what he loves.
Early this year, Lighthouse underwent hernia surgery, forcing him to take two months off at his full-time job at Recycled Cycles. He knew he had to do something and make it something he’d enjoy.
“I approached Todd Simmons at Wolverine Farm about setting up once a week for a few hours to do some bike repairs,” Lighthouse said. “He was immediately on board.”
It was during his first Wednesday at Wolverine Farm that the name “The Crooked Wheel” was born.
“I was just standing there, staring at the magnetic letters the Wolverine has outside, and the words “crooked” and “wheel” jumped out to me,” he said. “I added a “the,” and the name just stuck.”
That happenstance isn’t something foreign to Lighthouse. Also a writer and wood carver, he enjoys taking life moment by moment, soaking up experiences and focusing on doing what he loves.
“My main thought after the surgery, and what led me to start The Crooked Wheel was thinking, ‘how can I make enough money to live on doing what I love?'”
While The Crooked Wheel isn’t self-sufficient just yet, it allows Lighthouse the freedom to do what he enjoys while also having plenty of time to spend with this family.
“Most mornings my family and I will all go for long bike rides together,” he said. “It’s so dear to me to have that time with them.”
Along with having more time to spend with those he loves, The Crooked Wheel allows him to experience the community that makes Fort Collins so unique.
“I’m a bit of a hermit,” he said, “so getting out and actually talking to people helps paint a clear picture of people, not just ideas that you have in your head.”
Getting out and talking to people also lets him teach them the tools needed to fix their bikes in the future.
“Most people can do more than what they give themselves credit for,” Lighthouse said. “Fixing a bike isn’t that hard, especially the minor things. I love being able to look at a problem they have, and actually showing them what I’m going to do; thinking together ‘how can we make this work.'”
The “how can we make this work” question also applies to The Crooked Wheel’s future.
“I’ve been thinking to myself, how can I feasibly do this in the future?” Lighthouse said. “But I also think, this is a fun side project, and if it doesn’t become something bigger, that’s OK too.”
For now, though, The Crooked Wheel will keep rolling, setting up shop along bike trails, and Wolverine Farm every Wednesday from 12 – 5 p.m. until the weather turns, and he’s forced back inside.
Want to keep up on where he’s rolling to next? Follow him at @the_crooked_wheel and The Crooked Wheel.