Steve Rex, injured in a cycling accident, has been unable to work in the shop where he makes hand-crafted bicycles. Sacramento Bee file, 2005
Cyclists plan raffle to help injured bike maker
Many who encountered Steve Rex over the years have seen him doing one of two things he loves – riding his bike or building high-end bikes for others.
Since Nov. 15, when Rex crashed hard during a high-speed training ride and shattered his left hip and elbow, he has been reduced to doing something he finds especially unpleasant – sitting still.
"It's been really frustrating. It's hard to not do anything," said Rex, 46, whose line of hand-crafted bikes has a devoted following. "I spend probably 20 hours a day sitting or lying down."
An outpouring of support from cyclists, friends and strangers alike has led to an impromptu raffle to raise funds to help Rex with a quick financial boost during a time he has been unable to earn a living.
Word about Rex's injuries circulated quickly after the crash, in part because it happened during a 40-mile training event called the "river ride," which is something of an institution among Sacramento's hard-core cycling community. During good weather, up to 100 cyclists meet Saturday morning for what amounts to an unofficial race along Garden Highway to the Sutter County line.
Moments before he crashed, Rex was traveling about 30 mph in a group of 50 or more cyclists when two riders ahead of him touched wheels and went down. Rex had no chance, tumbling over his handlebars and falling hard.
Then came more bad news. Just days after a surgeon attached a large plate and several screws to his broken hip and femur, Rex learned his 17-year-old daughter, Sadie, suffered serious burns to her left arm when she fell into a fire pit at a friend's backyard party.
Doctors have yet to determine whether the teen, a senior at Sacramento Waldorf School, will need skin grafts. And her dad's doctor has not given him the green light to put weight on his left leg. An X-ray scheduled for early January will determine whether the broken bones are healing.
Needless to say, Rex's one-man bike-building operation on E Street in midtown has taken a financial hit. Rex, who has a degree in economics and philosophy from California State University, Sacramento, has never had a full-time job other than making bikes.
His shop, which recently relocated from its original site on Capitol Avenue, employs two bike mechanics and has remained open since the crash, handling repairs and selling a small inventory of factory-made bikes.
The raffle, which will have a drawing at 2 p.m. Saturday at Rex Cycles, is the idea of Dave Burke, a longtime customer and neighbor who recently encountered Rex out for some fresh air in a wheelchair pushed by his wife, Peggy Rex, a registered nurse.
Burke quickly suggested a way fellow cyclists could help. Word about the raffle has gone out via e-mail to area cycling clubs and race teams.
"Everybody who rides a bike a lot and does a little bit of racing crashes at one point or another. Every once in awhile somebody goes down and gets hurt really bad," said Burke, who races for the local amateur race team Rio Strada. Tickets are $10 each. The prize is a custom bike frame built by Rex or $2,500 worth of merchandise.
"I am overwhelmed," said Rex, who has vowed to begin building bikes again in January. "I am just so grateful for all the support that has been shown by the cycling community and our kids' school and from our neighbors."
Those interested in buying raffle tickets can email Burke at email@example.com or contact Rex Cycles, 1811 E St. The shop's phone number is (916) 446-5706.