Bike swap draws crowd despite chill
It wasn’t exactly the kind of weather that makes one think of a leisurely bike ride on a warm, summer day, what with snow piles hanging around, cloudy skies and a morning temperature just a notch above freezing.
Yet bike enthusiasts still showed up in droves Saturday for Continental Ski & Bike’s eighth annual spring Bike Swap, with the line of buyers nearly a block long before the doors opened.
The big tent event — which continues today — helps raise money for the United Way of Greater Duluth as it pairs perspective Northland bikers with used bikes others no longer need. But it’s also a block party of sorts, with music, food and the 1300 block of East First Street barricaded to traffic.
People who sell their bike get 75 percent of the sale price; the other 25 percent goes to United Way. Some people donated bikes so the entire amount went to United Way.
Last year’s swap sold 285 bikes and raised more than $11,000 for United Way, organizers said. They are expecting as good or better sales this year, with more bikes on hand and more people ready to buy.
You name the bike and there probably was one at the swap Saturday — fat tire, skinny tire, single speed, 20 speed, mountain bikes, sit-back bikes, choppers, low riders, old-school Schwinns with fenders and baskets, trikes, trailers, kid carriers and more.
Lia Pueringer of Superior was looking for a bike for her 6-year-old daughter, Alexis.
“We got one here last year for her brother (Daniel; they’re twins) but hers’ was a little small and she’s already outgrown it,” Lia said. “So we’re back this year.”
Mom pulled a very feminine, very pink bike out of the lineup of hundreds of bikes and Alexis smiled. She liked the streamers flowing out of the handle bars, the pink and white basket on the front and the bright pink seat.
“I like this one,” she said.
Mom agreed, and another used bike had found a new home.
“It’s nice that they have this so people can sort of recycle bikes and you don’t have to go to a store and buy a new one every year,” Lia said. “This is a great community event.”
Sonja Bjordal of Duluth was in the checkout line early with a handsome maroon and gold skinny-tire road bike at her side.
“My other bike was too big for me, but this one is perfect. It’s hard to find one that’s a little smaller,” said Bjordal, who stands five-foot-two.
William Helstrom, 4, was at the bike swap looking for a new trike, mostly because his little sister, Ginger, 2, keeps taking his, said their dad, Paul Helstrom. Older brother Hugo, 6, had already picked out and was pedaling a tough-looking red trike with unusually big, fat tires, perfect for some serious off-roading.
“We live way up on the hillside and we have some great places for him to go off road,” Paul said.
IF YOU GO The event continues today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Continental Ski & Bike, 1305 East First St. in Duluth, with prices of remaining bikes discounted 20 percent from Saturday. For more information, contact Continental at (218) 728-4466 or visit unitedwayduluth.org.