Saskatchewan

The 'cycle' of life: Regina man reunites with treasured bike almost 30 years later

The year was 1980, and Peter Lavalley had just returned from over a year of hitchhiking around the world. For most people, doing that would be a big enough task. But not for Lavalley. He decided, upon arriving home, that he would cycle across Canada.

Peter Lavalley never thought he'd see the orange 10-speed bike he loaned out in the early 1990s again

Peter Lavalley loaned his orange 10-speed bike to a friend in the early 1990s. Until recently, he never knew what had become of it. (Submitted by Peter Lavalley)

Peter Lavalley's much-loved bright orange bike has been around — across Canada, all around his hometown of Regina, and then to Calgary.

And it's now completed a decades-long round trip back to Lavalley.

That journey starts back in 1980. Lavalley had just returned from over a year of hitchhiking around the world.

For most people, that would be a big enough task.

But not for Lavalley.

He decided, upon arriving home, that he would cycle across Canada.

"I didn't have any commitments," he said in a recent phone interview with CBC. "Certainly I wondered if I could do it."

He started his journey in Calgary and cycled to Toronto on his brand new 10-speed BRC Semi-Pro touring bicycle. Lavalley took special pride in its distinctive orange colour and the small customizations he made along the way — from lighter pedals to repositioned shifters.

Lavalley upgraded his bike upon buying it. One of the first changes he made was installing lighter pedals. (Submitted by Peter Lavalley)

Successful in his ambitious goal to travel across the country, he settled in Regina, where he made many memories with the 10-speed, including one particularly frightening moment when he was cut off by a car in front of the Lawson Aquatic Centre.

 "In an angry, instinctive moment I made that rude finger gesture to the back of the offending vehicle," he wrote in a short personal essay he penned about the bike.

The driver stopped the car, leaped out and began walking toward him with a baseball bat.

"I held my bicycle between us as he swung his bat closer and closer to my head," he wrote.

To his relief, a passerby prevented him from being assaulted.

By the early 1990s, Lavalley was rarely using the bike — opting instead for his car. 

When a friend moved to Calgary in 1992, Lavalley loaned him the bike. He never heard about it after that.

"I recognized he was under a lot of stress in making the move," he said. "So I didn't pursue the matter of my bicycle."

Social media scrolling leads to reunion

Years passed, but Lavalley never forgot about his special orange bike.

"If one can grieve the loss of connection to an object, that's exactly what I did," he wrote in his personal essay. "From time to time, I would wonder what had become of my orange bicycle. Had it been stolen? Was it rusting in a landfill?" 

In August, Lavalley was on Facebook Marketplace looking for a bike for his daughter. 

"All of a sudden this distinctly familiar colour caught my eye," he said.

Peter Lavalley loaned his orange 10-speed bike to a friend in the early 1990s. It was a bike he cherished because he rode across Canada on it in 1980. When he was scrolling through Facebook Marketplace recently, looking for a bike for his daughter, a familiar orange colour caught his eye. 4:49

It was his long-lost bike. He contacted the owner and made his way over to see it for himself. It was still in very good condition — having been in the man's garage nearly untouched for 15 years.

Although the bike wasn't the perfect fit for his daughter, Lavalley says he'll make good use of it. 

He's just happy to have it back.

"When people reconnect with things that represent an important part of their past, it's really a wonderful experience."

Even though the bike isn't quite the right fit for his daughter, Lavalley has decided to keep it for himself. (Submitted by Peter Lavalley)

About the Author

Ethan Williams

Associate Producer

Ethan Williams is an Associate Producer and show director with CBC Saskatchewan, primarily assigned to The Afternoon Edition. Get in touch with him: ethan.williams@cbc.ca

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