Bike donation to Yukon hits pothole in the form of massive shipping fees

A program that would see two Yukon schools get a fleet of new mountain bikes and gear has hit a bump in the road — massive shipping fees and duty — to get the bikes sent from California.

This was the first year that U.S.-based Outride — formerly called the Specialized Foundation — accepted applications for the program from Canada. Winning schools get bikes and gear, and participate in a study of the links between fitness and academic performance.   

Takhini Elementary in Whitehorse and Eliza Van Bibber Elementary in Pelly Crossing were two of the three Canadian schools chosen to participate this year. Takhini was set to receive 27 bikes and the Pelly school 16 bikes.

"Unfortunately, Specialized ran into a real glitch with shipping the bikes to Canada, and it was going to cost — and I have a sort of an outline here of the charges — over $35,000, on top of just the $30,000 grant, to actually ship the bikes to Canada," said Lisa Evans, a vice-principal at Takhini Elementary.

This prompted the foundation to start looking for other options.

"They were going to look into air freight, and FedEx, and we even looked into what if we got the bikes to Skagway [Alaska] and then, you know, brought them over the border that way," said Evans.

"But there was no really cost-effective way."

Dave Croft/CBC

Now, she says, the foundation is trying to source comparable bikes from Canadian retailers, to ship to Yukon.

"We're not counting on getting the bikes really for riding this fall season. It's not looking good that way right now," she said.

"We kind of kept it low-key, because you know, it is an exciting thing for the kids — but we don't have the bikes."

Evans says the program promises to be a great way of "extending the classroom" and getting students active outside. She said some students wouldn't normally have such opportunities.

"We can't wait to start the program and we want it to be part of our school."