Cyclists for Lāhainā: 3 Big Island bike shops roll out two initiatives in support of Maui community destroyed by wildfire
August 18, 2023, 4:00 AM HST
* Updated August 18, 7:04 AM
Farran Hart, manager of Bike Works Kona in Kailua-Kona, was in Lāhainā about a year ago. He only spent three days there, which is the most time he had spent in the historic West Maui community since moving to Hawai‘i 8 years ago.
His memories from the trip aren’t about buildings or other physical landmarks. They are about the people.
“What I do remember specifically about Lāhainā was the kindness everybody showed,” Hart said Thursday. “That was the one thing that really stood out. … I can imagine I’m not the only one to feel that way.”
Now, he gets to return that kindness by supporting the community during its darkest hour.
Two initiatives through Bike Works Kona and two other Big Island bike shops, all owned by Grant Miller, are aimed at helping the people of the Valley Isle community that was razed last week by the deadliest wildfire in the United States in the past 100 years. As of Aug. 17, the death toll remained at 111.
Miller’s three bike shops, which also include Bike Works Beach & Sport in Waikōloa and Bike Works Mauka in Waimea, have started the Bikes For Lāhainā collection drive. The shops are accepting donations of gently used, in working condition bicycles that will be donated to families who lost their homes and belongings in the Lāhainā Fire.
Hart is also organizing the Ride For Lāhainā, an 8-mile community bike ride planned for 8 a.m. Aug. 20 that will show support for people impacted by the fire. The ride also aims to promote GoFundMe campaigns for Jeff Robertson, co-owner of Maui Sunriders Bike Co., and owner of West Maui Cycles Jamie Boote, both of whom lost their shops in the fire. Boote’s family home also was destroyed by the blaze.
“Bikes can bring a sense of normalcy, so even if it’s for a brief instance, riding a bike can just bring back the feeling of things from a simpler time,” Hart said, adding riding a bicycle gets a person’s body moving.
That helps with aches and pains from sitting around all day and feeling pent up. It’s a great way to relieve stress as well, something that likely would be welcomed by those impacted by the fire. Bicycles also meet the need for transportation and recreation for many of those who lost everything.
People on the Big Island who want to donate bikes to the drive can drop them off at any of Miller’s three shops during normal business hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the Kona store and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at the Waikōloa shop. The Waimea location is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
“Whether it’s a kid’s bike or adult’s, we will spruce it up,” Miller said. “Once we fill the container, we’ll send it off to Lāhainā.”
Miller’s effort is being assisted by Aloha Air Cargo. Aaron “Moose” Reichert, owner of Krank Cycles in Makawao on Maui, has already donated 30 bikes to families impacted by the fire and is also partnering with Miller and his Big Island shops to collect more in the coming weeks. Reichert’s own shop was damaged by a fire in January.
“When someone suffers in Hawai‘i, we all feel it,” he said. “In the bike industry, we help others by getting people on bikes.”
Hart’s Ride For Lāhainā will get community members on their bikes in a show of support, help and love to the devastated Maui community.
Participants will meet at Bike Works Kona in Kopiko Plaza and then ride down Ane Keohokālole Highway before heading back to the shop. The riders who turn out are encouraged to show their support for Lāhainā and all those impacted by the wildfire by wearing something pink — the official color of Maui.
Bike Works Kona is offering free bike rentals to anyone who needs one for the event. Hart said those who plan to rent a bike should arrive prior to the ride’s 8 a.m. start time.
No registration is needed.
“Although Maui is a different island, it is a short distance away and we are only separated by an oceanic channel,” he said. “With everything they are going through, reaching out to the shops to see what we could do made sense to me. I had a simple vision of just getting people in Kona to do a short ride that was inclusive and supportive.”
Those who cannot donate a bike or make it to the Ride For Lāhainā are encouraged to donate to the GoFundMe campaigns of Robertson and Boote. Hart, with 16 years in the bike industry, said biking attracts people from all walks of life to create a community of its own and anytime a town loses a resource that’s trying to bring people together, that’s really hard.
“So the fact that they have lost everything, including the two bike shops over there, we just really wanted to bring our community together to show support,” he said. “I want to bring our community here on the Big Island together just in solidarity.”
For more information about the Bikes For Lāhainā collection drive or the Ride For Lāhainā, call 808-326-2453.