RCMP representative handing over bike to Sooke Rotarian Roger Temple.

Big wheels keep on turning

Bicycle auction is on of the popular events at Rotary Auction & Spring Fair

300 local bike riders … and counting

Picture a parade of 300 bicycle riders on Sooke Road, both youngsters and young-at-hearts.  That’s the number of bikes sold to the Sooke community over the past 15 years at the Rotary Auction & Spring Fair.

The local RCMP donates most of the bikes annually.

“We take in anywhere from 10-50 bikes per year, either as found property, seized or donated,” said RCMP Sooke Detachment Commander, S/Sgt. Jeff MacArthur.

If the bikes cannot be reunited with their rightful owner, Sooke Rotary gets the call to retrieve them for the annual charity auction.

“The Sooke RCMP is pleased to partner with the Rotary Club for this important fund raising event,” McArthur added.

He noted other detachments, such as West Shore RCMP, donate their found bikes to Langford Fire Department’s Ride-A-Long Program.

Rotarian Roger Temple has personally rebuilt 242 of these bikes in nine years. He explains the bikes often arrive in poor condition — bent wheels, seized gears, rusty chains, and faulty breaks. Temple spends approximately two to three hours per bike to ensure each is fully operational and safe. He also notes buyers receive a 50 per cent off coupon for labour at Sooke Mountain Cycle, should they want a once-over from the pros.

The auction this Saturday will see 32 bikes up for sale. Each is auctioned to the highest bidder, so the prices vary but Temple estimates the average value at $60-100. He notes one special bike this year, an electric bike that he hopes may bring $250.

“It’s running and holds a good charge” he said, but adds “it may not look perfect, but you’re also not spending $1,700 on a new one.  We will take whatever we can get for it.”

Temple estimates the bike sale earns roughly $2,000 per year for the Club, with the funds supporting youth leadership conferences, adventure projects, and scholarships. As a long-term sponsor of these projects, Temple said, “It was nice to know that the time I was spending on these bikes was going to these youth programs that I was helping administer.”

He agreed that it is a little sad the prior owners lost their bikes, but at least they are repurposed for a happy new owner and also benefit a good cause. He also notes that every year or two an owner is reunited with their stolen bike – sometimes with a “finder’s fee” donation to the auction.

The Rotary Auction & Spring Fair is at SEAPARC this Saturday. The bike bidding starts at 10  a.m., along with the silent auction and trade fair. The bike sale ends at 4:30 p.m., the silent auction and exhibits close at 5 p.m, and the famous live auction starts at 6 p.m. (NEW TIME! Not at 7 p.m. as in prior years).  The event offers live music and food all day, with a wine and beer garden opening at 4 p.m.. As well, the Vancouver Island Placer Mining Association will lead gold panning demonstrations, in observing 150 YEARS OF GOLD in the Sooke region. All proceeds from the event support Sooke Rotary’s community and youth projects!