The Pay It Forward Bike

Jul 13, 2015
The Pay It Forward Bike


This lovely story, sent to us by Sylvie Admore (niece of our membership secretary Jane), starts with boats rather than bikes…

Frankie and I had crewed for a year on the same Elliot 7 with the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Humour is an important part of any team sport, particularly one involving long periods of being soaked through on the side of a boat. This might explain my reaction to Frankie’s offer:“Do you want a free bike?”

“Sure thing” I replied laughingly, waiting for the punchline, which no doubt had something to do with my less than speedy main trim during the last start.

“No, seriously. I got this bike from a friend of mine and I’m looking to upgrade, cos it’s a bit small. Only thing is I can’t sell it.” Frankie sounded less like he was joking and more like he was dealing in stolen goods. I looked at him quizzically.

“So what, like, you want to give it to me for free?” I asked, hitting the proverbial nail on the head.

“Yeah,” said Frankie, grinning at my obvious scepticism. “When my friend left for Germany she gave me the bike for free, on one condition: that I didn’t sell it, but passed it along to someone else when I got a new one. Like Pay It Forward.”

I had been scanning Trademe for months with the agonised desperation of one who knows nothing about bicycles other than how to ride one. Frankie’s offer was the perfect solution, and without it I’d likely still be bikeless.

I picked up the bike the following week. It’s a Specialized road bike with carbon forks, much flasher than anything I would have brought online.

Owning a bike you know you’ve got to pass on someday is a funny thing. It gives you a far stronger motive to maintain it than simply knowing you might get a few dollars more in an online auction if the chain looks shiny. It becomes about being part of something a little bigger than just yourself. When I pass the bike on, I want it to be in fine working condition with a few additional scratches and a whole heap of stories.

I’ve used the bike to commute to university over the Northwestern Cycleway, surely one of the most scenic rides in Auckland. The bike has accompanied me up to Shakespeare National Park, out to Titirangi, along picturesque Ridge Road from Albany and once, memorably, on a waka ride up the Waitemata Harbour.

Its adventures with me are far from over. I finish my law degree this year and am planning to see a bit more of our beautiful country from the saddle of my ‘Pay it Forward’ bike. At the end of it all, however, I’ll be looking for a new owner, about 5’2″, who wants a two-wheeled workhorse to take on their own adventures.

Even if you’re not 5”2 and in the market for a used road bike, I hope my words give you some food for thought. Maybe you’ve got a decent bike in the shed that you were going to chuck on Trademe? Maybe you know some good sort who could do with a pair of wheels? Maybe it’s time to pay it forward.

The “Pay it Forward” bike and its current owner, dressed as a pineapple, at Cycle Action’s Bicycle Gang Competition.

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