ORONO, Maine — Last fall Brandon Newman’s bicycle was stolen near Memorial Union on the University of Maine campus.
Newman, a UM junior, showed up Sunday at the Great Maine Bike Swap with his brother Zachary Newman in search of a new bike. He had $200, his limit for the day, and found a bike he liked. Trouble was, the price tag read $300.
Newman’s friend and fraternity brother Joe Bailey had an idea. Could Newman make a deal?
Maggie Warren, the event and volunteer coordinator for the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, went to find out.
The bike swap at the UMaine Student Recreation and Fitness Center featured dozens of bikes, including mountain bikes, road bikes, hybrid bikes and youth bikes, as well as local vendors. Warren said the proceeds from Sunday’s sale, and another scheduled for later this month at the University of Southern Maine campus in Portland, go to the educational programs of the coalition, which sponsored Sunday’s event.
There also were bikes donated by Orono Parks and Recreation, the Orono Police Department, the University of Maine police and the Orono-Old Town Kiwanis Club.
“That was great,” Warren said. “That was almost 50 bikes that will find a home.”
Warren said the final tally of bikes donated and bought, and final dollar amount, would be determined Monday.
Last year 78 bikes were brought to the rec center. This year, Warren said, there were at least twice that number.
Dozens of bikes had been bought and sold by 11:30 a.m. Sunday, leaving most of the racks clear, although people were still arriving with bikes by noon.
Bikes have become a popular choice recently for transportation and recreation, said David Auclair, owner of Auclair Cycle and Ski in Augusta, for several reasons.
“Green [environmental movement], [the cost of] gas, health, more bike trails,” he said. “There’s like four or five good reasons. Owning a bike is a step towards having that kind of free spirit and freedom when you ride a bike. … What I saw today was there were a lot of inexpensive bikes, and there were bikes for $300 to $400. So people are finding bargains.”
Warren consulted with Auclair about the bike Brandon Newman wanted to buy for $200.
The bike had been marked to be donated if it wasn’t sold, so selling it to Newman at the lower price would solve a potential storage problem if the bike were still around at the end of the sale. Still, Auclair said, there were a few hours left in the sale, and the bike could go at the higher asking price.
“Hey, all right,” Auclair, himself a UMaine graduate, said to Newman. “You want it, you got it for $200. … It’s done.”
Newman broke into a smile. He eventually left the rec center with his mountain bike, a new black-and-yellow Gary Fischer Paragon — a brand that typically retails in the thousands of dollars.
He’ll have to do a little work on the bike, but he was fine with that.
“I’m happy with it,” Newman said. “Quite happy.”