Although the Navajo Nation covers a sprawling 27,000-square-mile area across Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, there isn’t a single bike shop on the reservation. Until recently, cyclists would usually have to spend hours driving to the closest border town if they wanted to get their bikes repaired.
“It’s a common theme around here: someone gets a flat tire, and all of a sudden they’re out of a bike,” says photographer Shaun Price, who lives on the Navajo Nation. “It just sits on the side of the house.”
Last year, Price joined forces with a New Mexico nonprofit called Silver Stallion to try to change that. Over the summer, Silver Stallion founder Scott Nydam and a crew made up mostly of Diné mechanics began working to transform an old military truck into a bike shop on wheels. The result, which they’re calling the Mobile Ride Center, has been outfitted with all the tools and spare parts needed to travel around the Navajo Nation repairing bikes.
Silver Stallion received a grant from the New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division’s Outdoor Equity Fund to finance the project, which took on extra significance as the pandemic worsened and it became more difficult for Navajo Nation residents to travel long distances for bike repair.
During the pandemic, “we’ve seen the power of getting outside when it comes to increasing mental and physical well-being,” says Axie Navas, director of the Outdoor Recreation Division. “If folks are stuck in their home and not able to travel for months at a time, we want to develop systems to come to them and bring world-class bike repair skills to their homes.” The Catena Foundation, a Colorado-based nonprofit, also pitched in to help with the project, while the Southwest Indian Foundation donated the truck.
In addition to working on the build, Price photographed the project throughout the summer and fall.
Photo: The Silver Stallion crew in front of the new Mobile Ride Center. Left to right: Lorenzo Manuelito, Frank Cook, Scott Nydam.