HIS DAD GOT HIM interested in road biking as a kid, thanks to rides in the countryside around Nampa, Idaho, where he grew up. Today, Noah Sutherland shares his love of bikes with street youth in Spokane as the manager of Cool Water Bikes, a full-service non-profit bicycle shop in downtown Spokane that opened three years ago.
As part of the Christian ministry known as Cup of Cool Water, the shop provides a place for youth to learn about bike maintenance and earn their own bike. Those who spend at least ten hours helping in the shop, plus fulfill some other obligations, get a used bike, helmet and lock. Someday Noah would like to provide paid internships and job training.
“It’s been a really unique environment where I get to share something I’ve been interested in for years with kids who haven’t had the opportunity to either do a lot of riding or mechanic work,” he says. “But I also get to have one-on-one time with them to talk about life [and] faith.”
Cool Water Bikes is also open to the public to purchase used bikes, new and used bike parts, and to have bikes serviced. Money earned helps fund other programs for the youth center. Currently, Noah is in the process of planning the shop’s move to a bigger leased space. This will allow them to accept more bike donations, which must be in “repairable shape” before they can be accepted.
For the fourth year now, Noah and his Cool Water Bikes team will participate in the “Round the Clock” 24-hour mountain bike relay race sponsored by Round and Round, which takes place at Riverside State Park on May 28-29. “It’s really a big party,” he says. “There are hundreds of people out there doing it, and it’s fun to be there and accomplish something as a team and push ourselves.”
Noah owns three bikes—road, mountain and commuter—and enjoys the simple pleasures of the sport, he says, like “the sensation of wind in your hair and being able to push your body to accomplish a goal, whether it’s getting to work or just exercising.”
Here is what you will see Noah riding.
ROAD BIKE: Eddy Merckx. “I bought it used a little over ten years ago,” says Noah. “It’s probably a 30-year-old bike.” It’s lightweight and fun, but what he likes best is its name. “[Merckx] was a famous racer back in the 70s and then started his own bike company,” he says. Shimano PD-M505 pedals allow Noah to wear the same shoes as he does for mountain biking.
MOUNTAIN BIKE: Surly Karate Monkey. “It was a birthday present from my wife three years ago, as an upgrade to the mountain bike I had been riding for almost 20 years,” Noah says. It has Shimano PD-M424 pedals, and he custom-made his own 29” wheels, which includes Shimano hubs, Mavic rims, and Avid disc brakes. And he’s considering adding a front suspension fork.
BIKE SHOES: Specialized Comp MTB shoes.
COMMUTER BIKE: His old mountain bike, a Specialized Rockhopper, which he’s still in the process of modifying. “I changed the handlebars to be almost like a cruiser bar so I sit upright a little more,” says Noah. He added front fenders and wants to get new wheels and an internally-geared rear hub. Large platform pedals allow him to wear whatever shoes he wants and still have good stability. “[Bike commuting is] an important thing for me, but I’m kind of a fickle commuter—some days I feel like it and some days I don’t,” he says. “I cover this bike in stickers to make it ugly and, hopefully, less desirable for theft.”
PANNIER BAG: Carradice Shopper. “It is designed to perfectly hold a grocery bag and it has cool wooden handles for carrying off the bike,” says Noah.
HELMET: Giro, but he’s looking for a new helmet because his current one is falling apart. He says. “I have a really large head so finding the right one is hard.”
BIKE COMPUTER: Sigma Sport BC1200 computer with separate mounts on his road and mountain bikes. It keeps separate track of mileage for both.
LIGHT: NiteRider MiNewt X2 that he got specifically for the mountain bike race, and a Sunlite “cheap little flasher,” he says, for his commuter bike.
CLOTHING: “When I’m commuting, it’s just whatever,” says Noah. For riding his road or mountain bike, he wears spandex bike shorts and a cycling jersey. “[Cool Water Bikes has] some shorts and jerseys custom-made by Mt Borah,” he says, and he has some REI Novara shorts as a back-up.