Washing bikes raises money for the community

By Jeff Smith

It’s a win-win — Bikers receive a clean bike and girls receive tips before they go to college. Here Ashley Trent of Chadron, Neb. finishes up a bike at Pete’s Bike Wash on Aug. 10.

After the rainy pattern stopped last week it made for some good weather for the local bike wash that takes place during the Rally.

“We couldn’t wash fast enough yesterday,” Pete Stach said on Aug. 8.

The busiest days for the crew are the ones that are hot and have clear skies.

Pete’s Bike Wash started 17 years ago with a bucket and garden hose. His only “volunteer” was his son’s girlfriend. Over the years he invested more into it.

Stach said the service is a win-win for bikers and the college girls.

There were nurses and engineering students who contributed their time to the bike wash. The college girls raise money for college books and living expenses through tips.

The money raised at the bike wash goes to help maintain the Boys & Girls Club. Usually somebody with the Boys & Girls Club compiles a list of things they need and Stach puts money toward that. This year Stach is thinking the money will just go to the Boys and Girls Club annual campaign.

Stach always feels inclined to help the Boys & Girls Club because they are so grateful.

“They deserve so much more than they get,” Stach said.

There are so many nasty things that children can get involved in and there are many Boys & Girls Clubs that have to counteract that.

Stach thinks the most important aspect of the club is that it builds children’s character.

“If they make a difference in one life, it’s a job well done,” Stach said.

But he knows the club makes a difference in a lot of lives.

There are expenses involved, too, as a lot of the college girls stay at Stach’s house and then they need to be fed.

This year Stach also needed to pay someone to help with the washing.

Jeff Schutz of Alexandria, Minn. supplies all the washing materials like power washers, water softener, soap and an air compressor.

Aug. 4 and 7 were some of the busiest days at the bike wash. The biggest threat to the bike wash is the clouds in the sky.

This year there were seven detailers. Two to three washers were there at one time. Most of them were high school and college students. Stach’s buddies from Mitchell and Minnesota also helped out.

“They also spent time watching the parade go by,” Stach said.

Maya Johnson, a South Dakota School of Mines student from Denver, was one of the college girls working at the bike wash.

“It’s fun, exciting,” Johnson said. “The people are nice.”

Johnson was at Menard’s when Stach asked her to come work at the bike wash for the week.

“There’s been a lot of scrubbing,” Johnson said.

She uses rags and mitts to thoroughly clean the bikes.

Johnson said the only downside is the that her hands are dry at the end of the day.

Johnson said the girls were really nice and they all ate dinner together.

She said Stach’s family is really nice too and brought her food during the day.

The bike wash is also a family affair for the Stach’s. His daughter, two granddaughters and grandson all helped this year. Everyone in his family backs the service project.

Holden Stach, a student at Hill City High School, pretty much grew up with the Pete’s Bike Wash. He said he has only been helping out for some of that time.

But he has done more at the bike wash in recent years.

Pete Stach said that his grandson Holden can rest and relax after football practice but he comes to the Pete’s Bike Wash tent to work.

His football practice has been around three hours in the morning. That schedule works out for the bike wash.

In previous years he has had two practices every day. One in the morning and one in the evening.

“It’s been a lot more accommodating,” Holden said.

Stach usually does the washing and scrubbing but this year he also had to do some detailing because it was so busy.

Stach said the girls were hard working and know what is going on. He thinks it was the best crew he has had over the years.

Stach said lots of things go right with the bike wash. He is encouraged to keep doing the service for many more years.

In the same area by the Pete’s Bike Wash at the Three Forks area was the Lion’s Club members food wagon.

The breakfast and lunch items they sell raise funds  the organization needs for their service projects. The Lion’s Club provides eye exams for children, provides for some students’ eyeglasses and also does the Christmas baskets for low-income families in the community.

Rally week is the biggest fundraiser of the year for them. President of the Lion’s Club for Hill City, Robert Lowrey, said they usually net $8,000 at the food wagon for the Rally. They typically have 6-8 auctions to go to during the summer, too, but as more auctions go online it becomes harder to raise funds.

“We’re trying to fix that problem,” Lowrey said.

He said this year was ok for the Rally, they didn’t set any records. Lowrey said the best day was Tuesday.

“It’s a lot of work and time but it’s worth it,” Lowrey said.

There is a great group of volunteers that help out at the food wagon. The average amount of volunteers was 10 a day. The crew started on Aug. 3 and went to Aug. 11.