Nfld. & Labrador

How an N.L. man turned a rusted bike into a memorial to his late brother

Darryl Pike of Mount Moriah, N.L., has restored a BMX bicycle he purchased for his little brother David in the early 1980s. David died in an avalanche in 1986 at the age of 15.

Darryl Pike restored the old bike to keep brother's memory alive

Darryl Pike is pleased that the restoration of his brother's BMX bicycle is now complete. (Submitted by Darryl Pike)

It was a gift from the heart the first time around; now a BMX bicycle that's been painstakingly restored is a gift to Darryl Pike's own hurting heart. 

Pike bought the bicycle for his little brother, David, just a few years before the boy was killed in an avalanche in 1986 at the age of 15. 

The bicycle sat unused and deteriorating in the basement of the family home for most of the years since the tragic death.

But after their mother died last year and the house was being cleared out, Pike said he realized he just couldn't part with the old rusted bicycle, and he decided to restore it instead.

"From the time I started doing it, I said, 'I just want to get it back, David, just for you, just something in your memory,'" he said.

Worth every penny

The story of David's BMX bicycle starts with a little boy's dream and his big brother's unemployment insurance cheque.

Darryl Pike was nine years older than David, and he'd been in the workforce and was temporarily out of work.

He recalls that young David saw a BMX bicycle in a Sears catalogue and really wanted to have one, but it was an indulgence his parents could not afford at the time.

So Pike decided to spend his employment insurance cheque at the Hudson Bay Company in Corner Brook to buy the bicycle at a cost of about $180 and surprise his brother.

"The look on his face at the time, it was well worth that unemployment cheque, that's all I can tell you," said Pike.

David Pike in his last school photo. (Submitted by Darryl Pike)

Childhood days 

Pike said his brother spent many hours riding his prized BMX bicycle, and people who grew up in the same neighborhood still remember seeing him on it.

"He totally lived on it, from daylight to dark," said Pike. "He sure rode it a lot and loved it dearly, I know he did."

Unfortunately, memories are all the Mount Moriah, N.L., man now has of his younger brother after David was killed in a avalanche in the Curling area of Corner Brook. David and a friend had been jumping off an area known as Monument Hill when a large amount of heavy snow came down on top of David and he was unable to escape.

"You just never get over it. You just can't," said Pike. "My mom and dad, I know that destroyed them for a long, long time."

Although he was nine years younger, David Pike and his brother were so close that Darryl asked the teenager to be best man at his wedding. (Submitted by Darryl Pike)

Too precious to trash

Pike's mother kept many of her late son's belongings, stored away in the basement, including the beloved BMX.

Even as she reached her 80s, the family couldn't convince her to let go of the family home, and Pike said he's sure that's because it contained so many memories of the son who'd died.

After Pike's mother died last year, he still couldn't bring himself to get rid of the bike.

"I took that bicycle and I brought it up and I put it in the dumpster, and I had it laid in the dumpster, but I never took my hands off of it. And I just took it back out," said Pike.

Darryl Pike estimates he spent about 200 hours to restore his brother's old BMX bicycle. (Submitted by Darryl Pike)

Shiny as new

Pike said he made up his mind to restore the bicycle to as close to original condition as he could get it.

But he had his work cut out for him, as the bike was in terrible condition, with rusted metal, faded plastic rims and flat tires.

Pike, who is retired from his career as a carpenter with Western Health, estimates it took him about 200 hours of sanding, scrubbing and finding parts to restore the bicycle.

But he has it back now in good condition and full working order.

"You can jump on that and go," said Pike.

David Pike's last school photo is displayed along with his BMX bicycle in Darryl's home. (Submitted by Darryl Pike)

Together again

But Pike doesn't expect anyone to be riding his little brother's bicycle. 

He said he worked too hard to refurbish it to get it dirty again, so he intends to instead have it on display in his home or cabin.

For now, it's in a corner of his rec room, right under his late brother's last school photo, as if David is once again watching over his old pride and joy. 

"I think it's a suitable spot, and it does my heart good that the project is finally complete. And I can say that I put something into it for him, in his memory," said Pike.

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