By Marcy Miranda
Josh Carnes is a firm believer that there are very few things people can’t do on a bicycle. On Saturday, he proved that buying a house and moving into it using bicycle power alone is entirely possible.
Carnes also used a seven-person bicycle to tow his Toyota 4Runner and an attached trailer filled with boxes.
“I’m a firm believer that you can do anything by bike,” the 31-year-old firefighter said.
His house-buying-by-bicycle journey began about two months ago when Carnes started looking for a new home. He knew he wanted to do everything related to the new house — including moving in — by bicycle to prove a point, he said.
He and his real estate agent, Mike Carnes, who is not related to Josh, viewed about 15 houses around Old Town before settling on one, Josh Carnes said.
For Mike Carnes, using bicycles for house-hunting was nothing new.
“All the houses I’ve sold in town were by bike,” he said. He said it helps that he specializes in selling homes around Old Town.
“Riding in and sitting on a patio in Old Town, that’s what this town is about,” he said.
When Josh Carnes approached him with the idea of doing the entire process by bike, Mike said he was all for the idea, although his enthusiasm took a short decline on the day when the closing paperwork was being signed, which happened to occur on the day Fort Collins received about 12 inches of snow Oct. 28.
“We went out to get the land title on Harmony Road by bike,” Mike Carnes said. “It took an hour for the sensation to come back to my toes.” Nonetheless, the pair continued forward with the mission, which prompted skepticism among some of Josh’s friends at first.
Karen Galles, a friend of Carnes’, said the first time he shared his idea, she thought he was “insane.”
“I was totally a doubter,” she said, but after Carnes showed her a video of something similar being done in Portland, Ore., she started to believe it was possible.
After hearing about Carnes’ plan, several bicycling shops and organizations around town pitched in. The Fort Collins Bicycle Co-op supplied some trailers for Carnes to use; Brave New Wheel offered to provide some mechanical work to bicycles being used during the move; and High Street Real Estate donated $200 to go toward pizza and beer for a party at Carnes’ new place.
The owner of the circular seven-person bicycle, called a conference bike or septacycle, loaned his bike to Josh to help tow his SUV and the trailer. People who rode the septacycle during the move said the weight wasn’t as heavy as expected.
“The weight was distributed pretty evenly,” Brian Heinold said. “But I was a little out of breath at the end.”
During the move, Josh’s friends said they were excited to participate in what seems to have been the biggest total bike move in the city. Galles said having the help and support of the bicycling community made moving more exiting.
“Something that would normally be a pain becomes fun,” she said.
The novelty of the idea and the desire to help a fellow bicyclist brought Pete Limbach and his friend Lily McConnell to Josh’s house. Neither of the two knew Josh before Saturday, but Limbach decided to help Josh move after he saw a flier at Brave New Wheel.
“It sounded like fun and I liked the idea of it,” Limbach said. “I’ve moved a lot of stuff by bike, but I’ve never moved an entire house.”
McConnell said she thought using bicycles to move was much faster and more convenient than using a moving truck.
“It’s easier to load up bikes,” she said. “It’s so much more convenient.”
She wished the bike ride, which took less than 10 minutes, would have been longer.
Rafael Cletero, director of the Bike Co-op, said his organization gets requests for moving help often. In his seven years here, Carnes’ move was the biggest and most ambitious, he said.
“This is the most pedal power performance yet to be seen,” Cletero said.
Bonnie Bixler Szidon, whose mother lives across the street from Carnes’ new home, said she thought his idea was great. She watched as the herd of cyclists rode down the block, pulling trailers full of boxes and luggage bags.
“It’s wonderful to have fresh blood in the neighborhood,” she said. “This is our neighborhood and we want to see good things happen here.”Tags: bicycle, bicycle journey, bicycles, bicycling, bicyclist, cycling community, fort collins, fun, Pedicab, Pedicab News