March 25 – Bicyclists from the Colorado Springs area gathered at the SoccerHaus at 4845 List Drive for the seventh annual Saturday Bike Swap.
Over 60 vendors and around 1,000 visitors came on the Saturday of the show to sell gear, shop for bike parts and accessories cheaply and reconnect with their community as the cycling season approaches.
Gabe Alvarado, a keen cyclist and events organizer, is pleased to say that this year’s Expo was their most successful event to date, selling out for the first time in the event’s history.
“This year we have 60 unique vendors and around 1,000 buyers in attendance,” said Alvarado.
Alvarado is a Colorado native and a lifelong cyclist. Together with his wife, the Alvarados have been organizing the Bike Swap Expo for six years.
“This event kind of fell into my lap,” said Alvarado, “the guy who ran it the first year moved out of state in 2015, so he passed the torch to me. My wife is an event planner by trade and I work in manufacturing planning so we’re both professional planners and it just sort of worked out.”
Although visitor numbers at the exhibitions have declined since the COVID-19 pandemic, Alvarado said the bike swap fair has returned to relatively normal levels over the past two years following the nationwide shutdown.
“I don’t know if the pandemic has affected the actual number of visitors much. It certainly had a big impact on the number of parts we had here due to supply chain issues,” Alvarado said.
“We skipped 2020 because of COVID and in 2021 we had mask restrictions as we worked to follow state guidelines. As for 22 and 23, it seems to be back to normal.”
This year, 100% of show ticket sales will go to Kids on Bikes, a local Colorado Springs non-profit dedicated to helping kids get healthy and active through cycling. The non-profit organization has been involved with the event since its inception.
“They (Kids on Bikes) said how much money do you need next year because we really love the event and I said we’re not taking money from you guys – we’re going to give you money next year,” Alvarado said.
According to Alvarado, they expect to donate $2,000 in event proceeds this year, as well as donations in kind at the end of the event, to the nonprofit.
Daniel Byrd, CEO of Kids on Bikes, said he loves coming to the show each year to help the community and have the opportunity to “do more” in his nonprofit space.
“This is an event where you can more or less bring together a majority of the cycling community to swap, buy and sell and learn about bikes,” Byrd said.
“We (Kids on Bikes) support in the backend, mainly with voluntary help. People who end up not selling what they came here for can donate that gear to us at the end of the day, so it’s a huge benefit to us because, like us, we depend on donations.”
Byrd said that this year they will use the funds raised from the Expo to expand their spring program.
“We are running more programs this spring than ever before. It’s about being able to buy helmets, pumps, bike locks — all those things to provide something for kids who have earned a bike with us,” Byrd said.
One of the most popular services offered by the nonprofit organization is their Earn-a-Bike program. Alyssa Secreto, the Kids on Bikes community engagement coordinator, shared the importance of such a program.
“These are kids who don’t have a bike or don’t have access to a bike,” Secreto said. “Within the program they learn safety and skills and at the end they get to take the bike home, it’s about access, education and opportunity.”
Cyclist Jesse Nordeen, a devoted member of the Colorado Springs cycling community, was seen weaving between the vendor booths and vendor tents.
“I’m not looking for anything in particular. I’m mainly here to see my friends from the cycling world,” said Nordeen. “It’s really cool to talk to people – seeing all the different companies and startups in the area is great. I just love how easy it is to start a conversation just because we all have similar interests.”
Of course, finding lots of new gear is great, but it seems that the heart and purpose of the event lies in the community that surrounds it.
“I like to see people getting and selling gear. It’s cool to see those connections come into play,” Alvarado said, “even just the networking side of things — to see people connecting with different businesses and nonprofits. That’s what I’m about.”