Wednesday, August 4, 2010

It was doubt, not really believing we would actually pack up and go for four months in a space only a little bigger than a bathroom, that kept us from pulling the trigger on a sweet deal on a pair of folding bicycles.
We were in Oregon, on our way to join a group of fibreglass-trailer enthusiasts, when we saw the bikes, new, for $130 apiece. We thought instead that we would support Canadian retailers and manufacturers in order to wheel our way around various campgrounds across Canada and the United States.
Then began our quest to find folding bicycles in Canada, along with a serious case of sticker shock. Since we live on Pender Island, one of the Gulf Islands floating between Vancouver and Victoria, our local shopping alternatives were slim to none, and slim just left town.
So we hopped on the Internet and found that Camping World would ship them to us — but with shipping fees as pricey as the bikes themselves.
So to Plan B. We put our niece’s new husband, who works in a sporting goods store in Winnipeg, onto the problem. Sorry, he says, they don’t sell them. Plan C, we contacted a nephew in a Toronto bike shop. Sorry, he says, they don’t sell them.
Plan D, we got back on the Internet, trying to find anywhere in Vancouver or Edmonton, our first stops, that might stock them. Plan E, we stopped at a used-bike shop in Victoria, which didn’t have them, but pointed us down the road, telling us to expect to pay around $500 for one. Not going to happen.
Plan F: We whined to our friends, who whined on our behalf to their friends.
And along came that six degrees of separation thing. We snivelled to a friend, who passed it on to his brother on Vancouver Island, who told him about his former neighbour on Pender who has two of them. The former neighbour plays saxophone in the Pender Island Community Jazz Band, often sitting beside Vicki as she plays her flute.
Who knew?
On the busiest weekend of the year, when Pender’s population can explode from 2,500 permanent residents to a throng of 10,000, we headed over to the sax player’s home on a hillside overlooking the ocean and saw two beautiful bikes. And in true Pender spirit, he is lending them to us for our trip.
They are a matching pair of Raleigh Stow-Away beauties, purchased separately at thrift shops. One was picked up near a marina for $75, which makes perfect sense since boaters often become bikers when they tie up at our docks. The other was grabbed for $25. Raleigh hasn’t made these bikes in some time so they are not as light as some newer models, but their sturdy construction makes us hopeful they will hold our middle-aged weight.
The lender is unhappy with the kick stand on one of them, so is putting another in its place. And with a smile, he happily pointed out that the seats are very comfortable. Once again, Pender comes through for us.
Two bicycles now are on the list of things we think will fit under the canopy on our little truck when we roll out of here.

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