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Shifting Gears plans open house to mark 10 years

BEMIDJI – A local organization is marking its 10th anniversary Sunday with a free community event.

Shifting Gears, a ministry of Peoples Church dedicating to providing bikes to low-income people, will host an open house at its new location, 303 Railroad St. SW. 

The open house will be 4-7 p.m. and will offer free stickers, buttons, prizes and more. The bicycle-powered blender will be available for kids to make their own fruit smoothies.

The organization also during the open house will recognize support from two local bike shops, The Home Place and The Bike Guy.

Shifting Gears began in 2002 as the dream of Dr. Diane Pittman, a lifelong cycling enthusiast. Her husband, Larry Krantz, decided to build a 30-foot-by-50-foot shed, but Pittman thought it was too large. To placate her, he offered to set up a small bike shop in the corner.

“The bikes took over and Larry has had to fight for every square foot (since),” Pittman wrote in a press release.

A connection with Peoples Church naturally developed, she noted.

In 10 years, Shifting Gears has donated hundred of bicycles and helmets. Donated bikes are refurbished and provided to those who need them for transportation, health and recreation.

“Along the way we teach people, old and young, to maintain and fix their own bikes, helping out by providing access to tools and low-cost parts,” the release said. “Mobile bike ‘clinics’ take it all to the neighborhoods and are a fun way to teach and build relationships.”

Shifting Gears also has cosponsored many Bike Bemidji rides and rodeos and has provided bikes and education to nonprofits, such as the Northwoods Coalition for Family Safety, Evergreen Youth & Family Services, Girl Scouts, the Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area, Headwaters Science Center and the Schoolcraft Learning Community.

The organization has now moved from the shed into its new location, thanks to a $1,500 grant from the George W. Neilson Foundation. Shifting Gears also has partnered with the Rail River Folk School.

Shifting Gears accepts donated bicycles in all conditions, except for department store bikes that have been stored outdoors for too long and are rusty. Financial donations as well as parts and tools also are accepted.

Bike donations can be made during the open house. All donations are tax-deductible.

For more information, call 751-8134 or go online to