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Initial bike event draws varied crowd with its deals

About 1,300 bicyclists – experienced and novice, young and old – descended on the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center on Saturday to buy, sell and trade bikes at what organizers hope will become an annual celebration of cycling.

“We really wanted it to be for the community,” said LeAnn Yamamoto, event director of the first Spokane Bike Swap. “Really, it’s to get people thinking about bicycling. Whether it’s for fitness, transportation or recreation, it’s a healthy lifestyle.”

There was space in the used bike area for 200 bikes, and about 185 were entered for a fee of $10 each.

“We’ve been pleased with the variety of bikes we have for the customers,” Yamamoto said. “We’ve had a great selection.”

But that selection was quickly decimated by early shoppers eager to scoop up good deals; kids’ bikes went especially fast.

“For a first event, that’s pretty good, I think,” Yamamoto said. “It far exceeded our expectations. It seems like everybody has been happy.”

In hopes of boosting inventory for the swap’s final day, organizers are waiving the $5 admission fee for people who enter a bike into the swap – although the $10 entry fee will still apply.

Sam Hokonson, 9, would leave the swap empty-handed, but the young bike buff said he wasn’t disappointed. He’s been looking forward to the event “for a long time, actually.”

“We thought it would be a good place to go find new bikes, because we need new ones,” he said. “It’s an easy way to get around, and it’s very healthy.”

A number of local bike shops also showed off their goods, and attendees were able to get fitted for helmets, browse gear and clothing, learn how to put a bike on a bus, peruse new and used parts and connect with local bike clubs.

Proceeds from the event benefit Friends of the Centennial Trail. Organizers hope to raise about $5,000.

Peter Groza left with an addition to his family’s growing collection of bicycles – a tandem.

“We’re going to go for it,” Groza said. “Spring is in the air, the trails are opening up. I think we have cabin fever, so we might be overspending.”

But, he added, “I think we’re getting a good deal.”

“I’m really very thrilled with the event,” he said. “We’re bike enthusiasts.”

Before sealing the deal, Groza took the tandem bike on test cruises with his son, and then with his daughter, on the back.

“I like to put the kids on the back and they pedal as long as they’re happy and when they’re done they can just cruise along for the ride,” he said.

His daughter, Alice Groza, 7, certainly wasn’t complaining.

“It was very relaxing,” she said. “It was very fun to actually feel my dad helping me pedal so I wasn’t alone and I didn’t have to do all the work on my own. We go ride a lot, but this is the first time I’ve actually ridden on a tandem and felt comfortable.”