Jared Roediger and Chris Joyce, both Southern Oregon University students and avid bike riders, were the first people in line almost two hours before the make-shift gates in front of The Grove parking lot opened for the annual Ashland Bike Swap.

"It's a big deal," Roediger said, still a good half-hour before the event began. "I need some parts. A new fork would be cool; a used fork would be cool, too. I brought a blank check. If I find something I absolutely needed, I'd spend two or three hundred bucks."

He did. Within 20 minutes he found a mountain bike frame for $130. "I didn't come looking for this, but it's a pretty good deal," he said.

When the gates swung open promptly at noon, he and many others, impatiently waiting, rushed to the grassy field behind the police station to shop for parts or an entire bike.

"It's like Macy's the day after Christmas," said Ashland City Councilor David Chapman, a long-time supporter and volunteer at the city sponsored bike swap. "It's probably the cheapest way to buy transportation. It's like a garage sale."

Ashland Police Officer Teri DeSilva, who was on hand for crowd control, estimated as many as 250 people waited on the East Main Street sidewalk for the event to begin.

"It's like the gates to a county fair," she said, noting that she bought a bike at the swap last year for $40. "Everyone gets so excited."

The Bike Swap is put on by the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department and the Ashland Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission. People drop off used bikes earlier in the morning or the night before the festivities, name their price and then hope someone waiting in the line is willing to pay it.

"I have two bikes in there," said Debbie McKeever, a mother of two who was hoping to upgrade two bikes her children, ages 11 and 13, had outgrown for bigger models. "They are great bikes, they just outgrew them. I totally believe in recycling."

Bikes ran anywhere from $20 for older model road bikes to $850 for a recumbent bike, the kind that make the rider look like they are reclined, rather than slouched over the handlebars.

"The advantage is less wind resistance," Chapman said of the recumbent bike. "You can really power these things."

The Parks Department, and bike and ped commission receives 20 percent of each sale with the balance given to the seller. The money the city raises goes towards bike safety education.

"The bike and pedestrian commission partners with the Bike Transportation Alliance (of Portland) to bring bike safety classes to students in Ashland," said City Planner Derek Severson, the staff liaison to the bike and ped commission. "Last year we made enough to really increase what we offer. We'd like to get every student in Ashland tied in."

Trace Harding, a bike enthusiast, said the best part of the event is helping people "make changes to their car addict ways."

She added, "Less cars would be awesome."

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x. 226 or .