Despite a chilly weekend and some overnight snow, Free Cycles director Bob Giordano said he wasn’t surprised that the shop was packed on Sunday with people eagerly searching for their next ride.
“Everyone got the fever last week. They know it’s time to park the car for the next six months and get out on a bike,” he said.
Free Cycles hosted the annual Missoula Bike Swap throughout the day Sunday, where Giordano estimated there were about 300 used bikes available for purchase. By the time the shop opened its doors for the start of the sale at 10 a.m. there was already a crowd outside ready to try to hunt down a good deal.
“It’s just grown every year. And there’s always that rush at the beginning. This event is always a little different for us, a little out of our usual wheelhouse because this time there is money changing hands when bikes go out the door,” he said.
Jonah Edgar was one of the people who caught the “fever” Giordano described.
“I have a nice bike I like, but with the warm weather, finding a nice cruiser has just been on my mind for a few days, especially knowing this was coming up on the weekend,” he said.
The Missoula Bike Swap, in its fifth year, benefits the Bike/Walk Alliance for Missoula. Board member Emma Wimmer said the event is both an important fundraiser as well as a great way to get people on a new ride in time for warmer spring weather.
“Someone can come in and get a bike that’s new to them at a far more affordable price than buying a brand new bike, right at the time where we all feel like riding,” she said.
While Free Cycles volunteers built about 30 of the bikes on sale at the swap, the majority spread throughout the shop were brought in by locals looking to sell them on a consignment basis. If a bike sold, the original owner received 85 percent of the proceeds, with the remaining going to the Bike/Walk Alliance. Free Cycles also got a portion of the sales.
Wimmer said the system benefits everyone.
“People get rid of bikes they no longer want and customers get introduced to Free Cycles as a community bike shop. So if the bike they buy isn’t in tip-top shape, they can come back here and learn to work on it and fix it,” she said.
Thomas Lear came to the Bike Swap looking for a bike for his girlfriend, although the self-described avid cyclist’s eye was drawn to a high-end Specialized road bike that he made repeated stops at while perusing the other cycles.
“I love to ride so I’m hoping we find something for her so we can go head downtown together on a weekend once the markets get started,” he said.
Eventually Lear gave in and took the road bike out for a test ride on the street in front of Free Cycles.
“OK, so maybe I’ll end up having to buy something for myself too, we’ll see,” he said.
This article originally ran on missoulian.com.