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Auburn icon aided in crash recovery

Local businesses repair Gilbert Ortega's bike for free
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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A familiar face in Auburn is getting his favorite bike repaired for free. Dan Tebbs at Victory Velo said he and Auburn Bike Works owner Lisa Kodl took on the task of fixing Gilbert Ortega's bike to help out one of their own. We put it back together for free to help out one of Auburn's finest, Tebbs said. The bike was damaged in an accident from which Ortega recently recovered. Ortega, an Auburn resident, is well known for riding all over town, smiling, honking his bicycle horn and greeting friends and strangers alike. So when Ortega was involved in an accident, the local bike shop owners wanted to help. In Tebbs' shop, they stripped the frame and rebuilt it for free. Kodl said her shop painted the bike at no cost to Ortega. We've worked on Gilbert's bikes for a long time. We always try to do what we can for him, Kodl said. Ortega, who says he is 79, picked up his newly repaired bike today in downtown Auburn. Ortega is an easily recognizable figure for some Auburnites because he usually dons a decorated cap, and constantly toots his bike horn. He has been in prior accidents. In September, Ortega suffered three broken ribs and skin wounds when he collided with a vehicle at the Maple Street and Commercial Street intersection in Old Town Auburn. In April 2005, he received minor injuries when he bounced off the front bumper of a car on Elm Avenue. On Friday, Ortega said he was happy that the two businesses fixed his bike. I'm feeling great, he said. I'm happy and that's all I need. The Journal's Michelle Miller contributed to this report. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or via a comment at auburnjournal.com.