One of the constants at the Silicon Valley Bicycle Exchange is that there are always more bikes to repair. Our talented volunteers are always repairing bikes at a good clip, but only by moving the repaired bikes to our partner organizations are we able to have the space needed to continue repairing bikes. And in order for that to happen, we need people to help coordinate getting the repaired bikes to our partner organizations.
One of the people that leads this effort is Lucy Hsu. Lucy helps get our repaired bikes to organizations all throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, which has been 490 so far in 2020! Contacting the organizations, keeping tabs on all the bikes that have been repaired and passed our rigorous QA process, and arranging the exchanges is no small feat for the number of bikes that move through BikeX. Today, we're shining our spotlight on Lucy via our interview.
Lucy gets her second turn as our featured volunteer after a brief spotlight almost three years ago.
Who is Lucy Hsu?
I was born in the Midwest, but I've lived in the Bay Area for more than 50 years. I grew up on the Peninsula, studied Electrical Engineering at UC Berkeley, and had a successful career in Silicon Valley before retiring ~10 years ago. I have one son, Jarrod, now also a Berkeley EE grad, who has also volunteered at SVBE on various occasions.
How did you get involved with SVBE?
I first heard of SVBE as a place to donate and purchase used bikes, which we did several times as my son outgrew bikes during his childhood. I learned about the need for volunteers, and eventually found enough courage to come to a Work Day. Although I had been bike commuting since the '90s, I really didn't know much about fixing bikes except for basic repairs.
What keeps you coming back?
I keep coming back because SVBE is such a great organization! We're repairing bikes to give to less fortunate members of our community, not only providing them with an environment-friendly means of transportation, but keeping these bikes from the landfill. My fellow volunteers are a wonderful bunch who have made me feel welcome and valued, even at the start when I'm sure I didn't know much. And, I personally have learned so much about repairing bikes. A few years ago, a call went out for someone to assist Jack Miller (one of SVBE's earliest volunteers) in handling some of the logistics of coordinating bike donations to our partner organizations, so I stepped up. It's been even more rewarding to see more directly how the community is benefiting from SVBE's efforts.
What is your background in cycling? And on wrenching on bikes?
I'm an avid bicyclist, but more from a practical point of view rather than serious riding. I ride every day, ~100 miles/week. When I worked, virtually all of that was commuting, but now it's primarily just running errands and getting exercise.
What have you learned since volunteering with SVBE?
Almost everything I know about wrenching on bikes I have learned at SVBE! There are still plenty of things at which I'm not very proficient, but you don't have to be an expert mechanic in order to volunteer...and the more you volunteer, the more you'll learn.
What’s your favorite bike ride (local or not)?
Hmmm, I don't know if I have a favorite local ride. I love being out in nature, say, by Crystal Springs, going to/from Big Basin, or at the Baylands. But I particularly like renting a bike when I'm traveling, something I've done in Juneau and Anchorage, Acadia National Park, New Zealand, Barcelona, and NYC.