Wheels to ride

Christopher Rickards collects custom bicycles the way someone might collect fine wine.

Christopher Rickards shows two of his favourite bicycles.

Christopher Rickards shows two of his favourite bicycles.

Christopher Rickards collects custom bicycles the way someone might collect fine wine.

But far from keeping his high-end bikes stored away he uses them regularly, on roads, trails and riding down mountains.

He rides hundreds of kilometres a week, fitting rides in during the morning, sometimes at lunch and in the evening. On a nice Saturday and a Sunday, when he has the chance, he’ll ride 150 to 200 km each day.

Rickards is a lawyer, doing civil litigation with the Red Deer law firm Johnston Ming Manning, and biking gives him the time he needs to think.

One of his prized finds was a bicycle ridden by famous multiple Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong in 1999, the first year he came back after having cancer.

It is number 650 — out of 1,999 made — and it is just one of two bicycles that Armstrong rode in Canada, with the other resting on display at United Cycle in Edmonton.

Although it is a piece of history and highly regarded by Rickards, he even takes that bike out for a spin around Red Deer every once in a while.

Like his inspiration Lance Armstrong, Rickards does what he can to help out and jumps at the chance to take part in many charitable rides around Central Alberta.

Near the end of the month on Aug. 28 he will do the Berry Architecture Wellness Ride in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Central Alberta Brain Injury Society.

The event offers a 25K, 50k and a 100K ride, with Rickards picking the longer route. Compared to his normal Saturday rides 100K is nothing for him. The ride goes from Red Deer to Delburne to Penhold and back into Red Deer.

He plans to use either the Lance Armstrong bike or the Delta 7 Ascend that he owns for the ride, or in case of rain will use his Trek 2100 road bike.

Last year, the Wellness Ride drew more than 20 people who raised $7,200 — which was boosted to $14,400 through a provincial grant program that matches community donations.

“It’s a very nice ride, very well supported, with a very good course,” Rickards said. He enjoys riding with other people and having the chance to do something he loves for a good cause.

Rickards, 47, got into biking in the 1990s, when everyone was buying mountain bikes and the sport was growing in popularity.

By the time he had purchased four custom bikes his wife Donna Purcell made him sign a contract as a joke stating he would buy no more.

The contract has since been revoked after she saw how much he loves his bikes and now years later he has added more than 10 to that total.

Among the makes of bike he has are top of the line models of brands that include Rocky Mountain, Trek, Specialized, Intense, Santa Cruz, Ellsworth, Turner, GT, Canondale and Proflex, as well as an Arantix and an Ascend, made in Utah by Delta Seven.

The majority of the bikes he has are cross country bikes, with some off road, as well as road bikes and downhill bikes.

His cheapest bike — which he describes as his “rain bike” — costs in the vicinity of $2,000, with some of the top-end bikes costing anywhere from $7,000 to $16,000.

“They are things I ride. They are not just things I collect,” Rickards said.

“I would ride all of those bikes within the space of a week.”

He treats his bikes a little like children, loving them all and with no plans to ever get ride of any of them.

Rickards said the things he enjoys doing the most in life are spending time with his family — wife Donna and daughters Helena, 10, and Vanessa, 7 — and riding his bicycles.

For more information on the Berry Architecture Wellness Ride contact Jane at 403-342-2266 or by e-mail at jferguson@reddeer.cmha.ab.ca.


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