PORTLAND – With people outnumbering bicycles 2-1, shoppers had to move fast Sunday at the Great Portland Bike Swap.

Jennifer Kirkbride of Sanford did exactly that, which is why she was whooping with glee while riding her Gary Fisher hybrid around a University of Southern Maine parking lot.

Kirkbride said she knows nothing about bikes, but a volunteer called her new possession “the Muhammad Ali” of bicycle brands.

“I love this bike. When I went for this bike, this woman goes ‘Oh, sugar, she got it,'” Kirkbride said.

About 2,000 people attended the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s 10th bike swap at the university’s Sullivan Gymnasium. The annual swap featured about 1,000 used bikes and tables of biking paraphernalia. A 15 percent commission on bike sales and the $3 admission raised money to support the coalition’s work to improve bicycling in Maine, said Nancy Grant, executive director.

The coalition was created in 1992 to serve as a clearinghouse for information about bicycling and walking in Maine. It promotes bike-friendly laws and biking safety, and sponsors biking events.

Grant said the swap grows bigger every year. Shoppers are able to test drive bicycles before committing, and get advice about their potential purchases from dozens of coalition volunteers. At times it was hard to move inside the gym, as people maneuvered their bikes through the crowds of shoppers.

“The hope is all the people will sell their bikes and everyone who wants one will get one,” said Grant.

Alan Veilleux of Winslow and his daughter, Desiree, 11, were in the market for a good tandem bike to ride 180 miles during this year’s Trek Across Maine sponsored by the American Lung Association. Veilleux said he had been looking all over the state, and on Sunday he finally may have found a keeper. His daughter gave the bike a thumbs up.

“I like the seats,” she said.

Troy Fraser of Poland Spring, first in line when the doors opened, said he was satisfied with the Kent mountain bike he picked out.

“I saw it and said, “This is a good bike,'” Fraser said.

Mary Lemoine, 7, of Saco had only praise for the neon blue and pink bike she picked out.

“The pedals are just right, you can carry a water bottle and it has gears,” she said.

Jackson Villani, 10, of Portland tested out a bike for his sister and gave it his seal of approval. His mother, Allison Villani, said that at $40, the bike was a bargain.

“Plus we met the bike seller, who said it had been barely used,” Villani said.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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