Bikes Belong gave Denver a great ride

N o one knew for sure what would happen when Freewheelin, a partnership between the Humana health-care group and Boulder nonprofit Bikes Belong, unleashed 1,000 bicycles for residents and visitors to use for free during the Democratic National Convention. Would all the bikes end up in Cherry Creek? Would anarchists and riot cops stage Mad Max-style pedal jousts down the 16th Street Mall? Or, worse, would the bikes just sit there, rider-less?

Turns out the bikes survived the party relatively unscathed. Bikes Belong executive director Tim Blumenthal reports that fewer than fifty are unaccounted for. And damages were minimal: "We had some flats, a couple of loose kickstands and one or two stem problems, but I don't know of any that were really damaged." That's pretty good, considering the bikes were taken for 5,552 rides covering a total of 26,582.1 miles. (Denver beat the pants off the Freewheelin program in the Twin Cities, where Republicans clocked only 1,971 rides and 15,141.5 total miles.)

As for the other 950 bikes, Blumenthal reports that some are being returned to manufacturer Trek, some have been donated to local groups and charities, and the rest should be going on sale at local Bicycle Village stores.

All of which has put Blumenthal in a forgiving mood when it comes to the missing bikes and the credit cards that their riders used to check them out. "We are going to assume ...that any bikes that haven't been returned will either show up or are missing because of circumstance, not intent to steal," he says.

One man called the organization while driving on I-70 and said that he had a bike in the back of his car. Bikes Belong told him to drop it off at the Freewheelin station closest to the highway, but the man noted that he was a "bit west of that" — in Grand Junction, on the way to California.

No problem, though. He agreed to buy it.

Being Barack: Attention, Barack Obama look-alikes. You are desperately needed at corporate shindigs, speeches, private parties and festivals. On September 20 at the Adams Mystery Playhouse, 2406 Federal Boulevard, Marne Interactive Productions will hold Obama look-alike auditions. The entertainment booking firm has had a lot of success in the past with Bill Clinton and George Bush impersonators, but so far hasn't found its Barack, according to owner Marne Wills Cuellar. "Our Clinton was shorter, but he was a dead ringer. He was a detective for the Aurora Police Department, and we'd book him for $1,000 a shot," she says. "Our Bush was a dead ringer, too. It was funny, because he didn't agree with the real Bush's politics, but he used to get a lot of prestigious gigs."

Cuellar says she can train her Obama how to act, look and dress, but he needs to be naturally outgoing. A beginner Barack would make only $50 to $100 per gig to start, but if the original Obama is elected president, the impersonation could turn into a long-term deal. "I really hope we get some Baracks in here," Barnes adds. "We could use them."

Who couldn't?

Joel Warner contributed to Off Limits. Got scoop? Contact editorial@westword.com.

 
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