Saturday, June 4, 2011

Long run for a short slide

Two weekends ago, at the very last minute, I decided to go to a "bike swap" out in the center of MA.   It's a little amusing to me, having grown up in Texas that in about an hour's drive you can get halfway across the state.   I had heard about this swap meet via the Old Roads website, and it was in Dudley, a small town south of Worcester, almost to the Connecticut border.   I had heard that it could be a giant event, full of guys with no teeth, who pull vintage bikes out of dumpsters and old barns, and that by sifting though the trash there was the possibility of treasure. It was this possibility that compelled me on a grey Sunday morning to get the Scientist to drive out with me to the "wilds."

Unfortunately it turned out to be a bit of a long run for a short slide.  We spoke to a couple of vendors (bringing a small and very friendly dog along is a great way to start conversation with anyone)  who said that it was much smaller than usual, and that nothing was selling.   Most of the vendors were selling heavily modified "chopper" style bikes out of the backs of conversion vans and pickups- some even had motors and were styled after motorcycles or dirt bikes than regular bikes.  Not really my thing.

There were a handful of decent English three speeds and similar city bikes.

I like the nostalgia of these child seats, but they don't look terribly comfortable:

This vintage tandem was out the parking lot.  I wanted it, but the Scientist did not  :(

This van had a very, very tall bike strapped on the back.

Nothing really tempted me enough to buy- the prices were very low, but I already have enough English three speeds, don't need another project.   Although after I got back home, I realized that I probably could have bought a couple for $50 each,  lubed the hubs, cleaned them up, put new tires on and sold them on Craigslist for $150.  I know that a lot of people do that, but I on reflection, I have a job,  and it's not flipping bikes.  I barely have enough time to work on the bikes I have, so it's probably better not to take on further obligations.

However, if you're interested in getting a project bike for a very low price, it would be worth it to check out this kind of thing, in hopes that you will discover treasure.


  1. This is my problem with vintage bikes; I *could* pour a bunch of effort in to it, but I've got enough to do! Still, I wouldn't mind seeing something like's always fun to look!

    And YES, it's bizarre how tiny other states seem after Texas. I moved to Indiana and was startled to find that you could drive to Ohio in less time than it takes me to get to San Antonio!

  2. Oh, that indeed sounds like a let-down. Out of curiosity, what kind of bike were you hoping to find there?

  3. @V
    I've been toying with the idea of building up a vintage touring frame, ideally a Miyata 610/1000 or similar Univega. Let me know if you see one around :)

  4. Oooh! Interesting : ) What size are you looking for?

  5. Funny--I just met up last weekend with a guy who'd just bought a mess of bikes from this swap. He is a collector and a flipper--cleans them up, fixes any issues and resells them--and a very nice guy. I'm afraid that if I went to a place like this I'd end up going home with a heap of irresistible bike orphans that I really don't need--case in point that green Raleigh, which I'd have been unable to resist just on the strength of the old MA bike license plate!

  6. Thanks for the post, I was curious about this swap meet! I know it's a longshot, but any idea who was selling the Schwinn tandem?

    Thanks again,