Volunteer Spotlight: Charles Edelson

By Randi Orth, Volunteer & Outreach Manager

Since his start as a volunteer over a year ago, Charles enhances our weekly volunteer program of wrenching on tiny bikes with his casual, upbeat personality and meticulous attention to detail. He has a knack for teaching with patience and articulates the complexities of bike maintenance with the snap of a finger, or should I say, turn of the wrench?

While Charles is one of our most dedicated Tuesday Drop-In Night volunteers, these days you’re more likely to see him behind his camera. As our sole shop photographer, Charles keeps our Bikes for Sale page current by employing creative lighting techniques and a generous supply of passion for his craft.

How long have you been volunteering with us? 

I started volunteering at Community Cycling Center in August, 2011. My wife saw a listing of volunteer opportunities in Portland and thought this might be a good one. After orientation, I’ve been a regular at the Tuesday Night Drop-Ins. Back in the ‘70s, a friend introduced me to bike repairs and it’s been a passion ever since. I had never really done much with kids’ bikes and so coaster brakes were an eye opener.

Why do you volunteer here?

There’s a ton of good reasons to volunteer at the Community Cycling Center. I love bikes and bicycling. Working on the bikes is a blast; giving them away is wonderful. I enjoy the staff and other volunteers and learning from them.

More importantly for me, this has turned into a wonderful father/son activity (Note: Charles’ son, Noah, is a star volunteer as well!). We both look forward to coming each week; it’s a great way to spend quality time together. He is learning some important values and he’s become quite the mechanic in his own right.

I’ve always enjoyed giving of myself and volunteering, it just feels like a great match here.

What is your role as a volunteer here?

That’s getting harder to pigeonhole. I started out as a volunteer mechanic and really enjoy that part of it. After Holiday Bike Drive certification, I started sharing skills with newer volunteers. Starting last summer I’ve been using my love of photography to help supply photos of bikes and frames for the Community Cycling Center web site. Last summer I helped out at one community fair and look forward to doing more of that.

What is your favorite Community Cycling Center program?

That’s a tough one to answer. Each one I’ve tried is wonderful and the ones I haven’t tried look great too. Someday if I have more time, I would like to learn to build wheels.

What is your dream bike?

My dream bike is just about complete. It’s a Look 585 racing bike with high-end components. Very nimble, responsive, lots of fun. The real dream is becoming a rider more worthy of his mechanical steed, needing better handling skills, especially descending.

What do you like to do when you’re not here?

My two favorite pursuits are bicycling and photography. So far, most of my rides have been 20-40 miles on roads with some 65-mile events in the spring and fall. Back in college, I rode one century between Eugene and Corvallis. My current goal is to complete a 100-mile ride this summer. I love day hiking to scenic locations in the Cascades or the Gorge and taking landscape photos. Lately I’ve been pursuing the Northern Lights, which are hard to come by in Oregon.

What would your bio-pic be called?  Who would play you? 

I see so few movies and know so little about celebrities that a real answer is kind of laughable. But it would have to be something about getting to where you are going slowly.

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