Contributed By: Reagan McSwain. “Today was epic! The sun was merciless and the winds wild and deranged. The pace I made was really fast with the heavy wind on my back. I endured the scorching sun and inland valley heat and did the climb non-stop on the unshaded, but nearly deserted road. The wind pushed me up the hills such that I was climbing faster than I usually cruise”
These are the words of Charles (Charlie) Prinsep, raised in Cabbagetown, Toronto while blogging his cross-continental cycling journey in 2007. This entry was 44 days into his trip. Later that month while cycling, Charlie was struck by a car and killed- he was 23 years old.
In his name, friends of Charlie created the non-profit “Charlie’s FreeWheels” (CFW) that offers free bicycle-building workshops for youth ages 12-25 in Toronto.
Using used and donated parts, each participant start by choosing a bicycle frame that fits and youth learn to install and repair a different part of the bike each week, over the course of 8 weeks. A trained mechanic teaches in a hands-off style and by the end, each youth has built their own bike – to keep! Youth are trained in road safety and take part in group rides to build confidence in cycling.
Since COVID-19, CFW offers free online workshops that teach youth basic bicycle mechanics in three self-paced classes. Youth in need are eligible for a free bicycle, refurbished by staff mechanics. They also receive a new helmet, bell, lock and a pair of lights.
Charlie’s FreeWheels is located at 242.5 Queen Street East. To learn more about CFW or to support programming by donating, go to www.charliesfreewheels.ca.
To read more from the blog Charlie wrote while on his cycling adventures visit thedoublecross.blogspot.ca