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Published June 03, 2013, 11:30 PM

Recovered after health scare, West Fargo’s ‘Bike Man’ ready to turn a wrench again

WEST FARGO – “The Bike Man” is ready to get back into the saddle.

By: Helmut Schmidt, INFORUM

WEST FARGO – “The Bike Man” is ready to get back into the saddle.

Keith Schoon, who has fixed and given away hundreds of bicycles every year since 2008, said Monday that he’ll soon be back and turning a wrench to give away bikes to kids.

“Give me another week and I’ll be back in business,” the 68-year-old said.

Schoon has spent the last seven weeks recovering from a serious bacterial infection.

Eighteen months ago, a city requirement that he put up a fence to screen his bikes from the street nearly put Keith’s Bicycle Repair out of business. This time, doctors told him that if he’d gone untreated any longer, the infection would have put him in the grave.

Sitting in the Sheyenne Crossings care facility, the Santa of two-wheelers fretted Monday, not about how close to death he came but how far behind he is in his workload.

Last year, he gave away 285 bikes to local children, and another 425 to a group that sends them to Kenya to be given to the poor there, he said. He estimates he’s 250 bikes behind his normal work schedule.

“I give away a lot of bikes. It’s something I love doing,” he said. “I’ve never charged a kid anything for fixing a bike. … If I can break even (from a few sales), then I’m satisfied.”

Schoon says his repair shop is a way of doing God’s work. To fix all the bikes, he puts in hours daunting for people half his age.

He gets up just before 2 a.m. to put on a pot of coffee. By 2:30 a.m., he’s working. Those early morning hours until 8:30 a.m., when he opens his garage door, are his most productive, he said.

Schoon discovered his infection April 27. His left knee, which was replaced by a titanium joint about two years ago, began to give him severe pain.

His wife, Bonnie, took him to the emergency room at Fargo’s Sanford Medical Center. He was in surgery by the afternoon.

Doctors cleaned out the infected tissue and parts around the artificial joint, then put him on a regimen of powerful antibiotics to address the infection in his blood.

In the meantime, Bonnie, who helps him in the shop at 402 2nd St. E., put up signs to discourage people from dropping off bikes.

“CLOSED due to some major medical issues!!” read a sign on their garage Monday.

Schoon gets his last intravenous antibiotics treatment this weekend. If everything checks out, he’s back on the street.

“The Bike Man” wants everyone to know that he’s “just had a fairly tough layover” and that he’s not out of the bike repair biz.

“I don’t know about dancing, but I sure will be working on bikes,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583