Anchor House: Bike mechanic keeps the village on wheels moving


Pete Garnich of Knapp’s Cyclery in Lawrence and cyclist Ed Pankowski. Photo: Krystal Knapp.

A week before the Anchor House Ride for Runaways, Ken Carlson’s mechanic called him with some bad news. His bike frame, made of titanium and carbon fiber, had cracked. It would take three weeks to get the bike repaired. Carlson was disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to ride his bike on the week-long Anchor House trip.

Then he called the Anchor House ride mechanic, Pete Garnich of Knapp’s Cyclery, to see if Garnich had a bike he could rent him for the week.

Instead, Garnich suggested that Carlson borrow his personal bike, which is the same make and model as Carlson’s bike.

“He said ‘take my bike’,” Carlson said. “It was a very generous offer and it was a quick solution to my problem.”

A few days before the ride, Garnich swapped out Carlson’s seat and some other components. The result: “Riding has been phenomenal and it feels like my bike,” Carlson said.

The Anchor House Ride for Runaways is like a mobile village on wheels. The participants move from town to town over the course of a week. Coordinating getting 179 people from point a to point b safely each day requires lots of planning and effort. As soon as the ride is over, volunteers begin planning for the next year. More than 30 volunteer support team members are on the ride this week assisting the cyclists. Without them the village on wheels that raises money to help runaway, abused and neglected children and teens could not stay in motion.

Perhaps no support crew member is more crucial to the cyclists’ progress over the week than the ride mechanic, who works on dozens of bikes a day to keep the wheels spinning.

Pete Garnich of Knapp’s Cyclery in Lawrence works on a bike on the Ride for Runaways. Photo: Krystal Knapp.

The Knapp’s Cyclery truck is loaded with hundreds of bike parts that the 147 cyclists on this year’s ride might need. Garnich said he stocks his truck with $10,000 worth of equipment for the ride, including 150 bike tubes, 50 tires, about 30 chains, and a few hundred brake pads. Everyone has a different bike, meaning different parts.

“You never know what you are going to need,” he said. “If it rains, you can go through 100 brake pads in a day.”

Several bikes lined up for Pete Garnich to fix on the Ride for Runaways. Photo: Krystal Knapp.

Garnich even brought a spare bike on the ride, and it turned out it was needed.

Claudio Zancani of Lambertville had a small crack in his frame he was unaware of before the ride. Garnich looked at the frame on the eve of the Anchor House ride at the starting point in McHenry, Md. and advised Zancani not to ride the bike.

“I wouldn’t let my wife ride a bike with a crack in the frame like that,” Garnich said. “It might be okay going up hills, but coming down if you hit a pothole or something it could crack more and be very dangerous.”

The bike Garnich had was the perfect size for Zancani, it turned out.

“Just as I was walking out the door and my truck was loaded for the ride, I saw a bike and decided I should bring it just in case,” Garnich said. “It’s always good to bring at least one spare bike because you can use it for spare parts if you need to. I’m glad it worked out and he can ride.”

Henry Garnich, 12, helps his dad out all week on the ride. Henry set up his own bike wash station to help the cyclists out. “It’s great having him on the ride to share the experience with us,” Garnish said. His wife, Stephanie, pictured here  cyclist Mike Broadhurst, is also a cyclist participating in her 10th Ride for Runaways. Photo: Krystal Knapp.

The cyclists on the Ride for Runaways pedaled 77 miles from Somerset, Pa. to Altoona on Monday for the second leg of the journey. They climbed about 4,400 feet and encountered a few steep descents that required cyclists to slam on the brakes. Many of the cyclists took a detour to visit the Flight 93 chapel and memorial.

Cyclists on day two of the Ride for Runaways. Paul Shapiro (front). Photo: Jeanne Imbrigiotta.

On Tuesday, the cyclists will bike 60 miles to State College, Pa. They will climb 2,606 feet – a short recovery day from the Anchor House cyclist perspective.

Krystal Knapp is a participant in the 39th Anchor House Ride for Runaways. For more information about Anchor House, to make a donation, or to visit an individual cyclist’s donation page, visit the Ride for Runaways website. 

The Currie brothers on day two of the Ride for Runaways. Photo: Jeanne Imbrigiotta.
Cyclist Ken Bitter of Princeton on day two of the Ride for Runaways. Photo: Jeanne Imbrigiotta.
Shanksville, Flight 93 Memorial. Photo: Jeanne Imbrigiotta.
Memorial Chapel. Photo: Jeanne Imbrigiotta.
Cyclists Jake Starr of Trenton and Tannya Hemingway of Trenton on day two of the Ride for Runaways. Photo: Jeanne Imbrigiotta.