Long-lost B.C. racing bike returned, restored 30 years after it was stolen

Former masters cyclist Gay Wise, now 84, had custom bike stolen in Vancouver decades ago
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Former competitive bike racer Gay Wise poses with Will Arnold, owner of Duncan’s Experience Cycling, and her bike that was stolen decades ago in Vancouver that was recently found and returned to her. Arnold took on the project of restoring the bike, which was in bad condition when found, and resurrected it for a grateful Wise. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Gay Wise finds it hard to believe she has been reunited with her long-lost racing bike that was stolen in Vancouver almost 30 years ago. It’s an unlikely, but true tale, however.

She’s also thankful to Will Arnold, owner of Duncan’s Experience Cycling, for taking on the job of restoring it.

Wise, the former president of the South Cowichan Rotary Club and member of the now inactive BC Masters Cycling Association, was an international bike racer who won a number of competitions over the years.

She and her husband Tony Hoar, who died in 2019, had a custom-made bike building company in Vancouver decades ago, and he designed a bike specifically made for her dimensions and size to race on.

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“I won lots of races on it and had it for about 10 years,” Wise said.

“Then one day I was going to a meeting in Vancouver and parked in a hotel parking lot and left my bike locked up in the back seat. When I came out of the meeting, a window in my car was smashed out and my bike was gone. That’s the last time I saw it for a very long time.”

Wise said about three years ago, after she had moved to the Cowichan Valley, she received a call from one of her former employees from the bike store who said he found the bike in an alley in the city.

“It had no wheels, handle bars, pedals or a seat, and what was left was mostly the frame,” she said.

“But my former employee recognized the paint job, which I did myself, and then he contacted the person who built its frame and he keeps all his records of the work he does, and he confirmed that it was my bike. It certainly looked like it had lived a hard life on the mean streets of Vancouver.”

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Wise said her employee took the ferry and brought the bike back to her over a year ago and she brought it to Arnold to see if he could resurrect it.

“I’ve known Will for years through biking and he’s always been good to me, so he took it on as a project,” she said.

“I paid for all the parts and Will never charged me for all the labour he put into restoring it. I really appreciate Will for this, and everything else he has done for me over the years.”

Arnold said he looked around and found a similar bike from the same era and vintage as Wise’s bike that he could use for parts.

“It worked out really well and even the colour matched,” he said.

“Gay should be in the Cycling Hall of Fame for all she’s accomplished and gave to cycling, and I was more than honoured to donate my time to restore her bike. The fact that she continues to ride it at her age (84) is just incredible.”

Wise said her competitive days are over, but she intends to ride her bike for fun and exercise.

“I’m just glad to finally have it back,” she said.



Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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