Blog : The Rides of Spring

By sarah | Mar 31, 2011 | in

It’s only 3 years old, but it has quietly become one of the Seacoast’s most anticipated April events. If you’ve ever noticed hundreds of people lined up in business parking lots at the corner of Islington Street and Elm Court on a Sunday morning in mid-April, there’s a good reason.

It’s the Seacoast Bike Swap, hosted by Papa Wheelies on Islington Street in Portsmouth. Held rain or shine, this five-hour event allows Seacoast residents to sell their old bikes, receive a store credit towards store merchandise or service, and contribute to charitable causes. This year’s Swap will take place on Sunday, April 17, 11 AM – 4 PM, rain or shine.  

The Swap is the brainchild of Papa Wheelies co-owner Nat McAllister. “Three years ago, with the recession really hitting home, we wanted to help folks unload their pre-owned bikes,” explained McAllister. “We never thought it would grow this quickly!”

“If you have an older bike, just bring it to us before this year’s Swap on April 17. We’ll check it out and make sure it’s safe to ride, and if it is, we help you put a price tag on it, and make it available during the Swap,” said McAllister. “If the bike sells, that’s great; if not, you can take it home, or we can donate the bike to the St. Charles Children's Home (an orphanage in Rochester which supports children age 3 - 12), or to Bikes Not Bombs (a non-profit which donates bikes to economic development projects in developing nations).” 

If the bike sells, the donator receives either $80 in cash, or 100% in store credit towards the purchase of anything in the store – including new bikes, clothing, or gear – or towards bike service and repair. Leading up to the Bike Swap, Papa Wheelies receives hundreds of pre-owned bikes, making the event a tremendous opportunity for bicyclists of all ages. “We get everything from kids’ bikes to performance bikes, and our staff helps match folks to appropriate bikes,” McAllister proclaimed. “It’s a win-win for everybody. If your kids have outgrown their bikes, or if you’re looking to upgrade from an older bike to something newer at a terrific price, this is your chance.”

And on the day of the swap, Papa Wheelies stages a sale on everything in the store, and they donate a portion of that day’s revenue to Seacoast Area Bicycle Routes, a local non-profit advocacy group for Seacoast and Southern Maine cyclists.

The Bike Swap’s event has surpassed even Johnson’s high expectations. “On the day of the Swap, people start lining up in the adjacent Ricci’s Lumber parking lot at 9:00 AM,” mentioned McAllister. “It just goes to show that the Seacoast area loves cycling, loves a great deal, and loves the vibe of the event. And the best part is seeing folks around town on bikes they got at the Swap, running errands, hitting the beach, and just experiencing one of best, healthiest ways there is to enjoy the Seacoast!”