First-time homebuyers Sarah Bronstein and Corey McKrill moved into their new house in northwest Corvallis on Sunday, and they asked a few friends to help.

In many ways it was a typical moving party, complete with beer and pizza to keep the volunteer work force happy.

But this one came with a twist: Instead of packing everything into a rented van or a borrowed pickup, Bronstein and McKrill moved all their worldly possessions by bicycle, with the help of a small armada of cycling enthusiasts.

Bronstein, 34, is a transportation options coordinator at Oregon State University, a job that involves a fair amount of bicycle advocacy. McKrill, 36, is a web developer for Automattic, the company behind the blogging service WordPress, who works remotely from home.

The couple own a car, but they had heard of people moving by bike. So, when it came time to relocate to their new address, they decided it would be much more enjoyable to get a bunch of people together and do it the two-wheeled way.

“I’m very familiar with loading up a U-Haul and moving, and it’s a drag,” Bronstein said.

“If you had a choice between having a parade followed by a party or loading up a truck by yourself, which would you choose?”

They started putting the word out to friends, family members and even total strangers in the local bicycle community, and the response was encouraging: Nearly two dozen people turned out to help.

The move began about 9 a.m. Sunday at Bronstein and McKrill’s two-bedroom rental house in the 500 block of Northwest 17th Street, near Franklin Square Park. After some preliminary coffee and muffins, the volunteers started packing up for the 1-mile move to the couple’s new abode in the 2900 block of Northwest Mulkey Avenue.

“The plan is to load everyone up and then go parade-style to the other place,” said McKrill. “We expect it will take two or three trips.”

The moving crew had 22 bikes and an array of trailers at its disposal, from colorful child-carriers to big, burly cargo haulers.

One two-wheeled trailer carried a modest payload consisting of several yoga mats, a couple of rolled-up hallway runners, a trash can, a lamp, a pillow and a bunch of plastic coathangers.

A cargo bike with sturdy fore-and-aft racks held cardboard boxes marked “Corey office” and “2 glass lanterns,” as well as a small bookcase. Owner Bridgett Mauck’s 3-year-old daughter, Iris, straddled the rear rack, with her plush yellow duck, Peeps, bungeed on behind.

A homemade four-wheeled wagon, about twice the size of an old Radio Flyer with green wire mesh sides, held a half-dozen cardboard boxes labeled “fragile,” “kitchen utensils,” “cast iron skillet” and “panini press.” The load was secured with a few feet of climbing rope, and an ice ax stuck up from the middle.

Edgar Tuttle had intended to haul the wagon behind his bike, but the set-up wasn’t working as planned, so he ended up walking to the new house with the wagon in tow.

Kevin Grant, a member of the Corvallis-Albany Bikeway Advisory Group, wore a backpack crammed full of miscellaneous items while towing a trailer loaded with a couch and multiple boxes of household goods.

Trevor Heald piloted a massive cargo bike weighted down with three big cardboard boxes in the front carrier. He had an even bigger load behind: a flatbed trailer that held an entire queen-size bed — frame, box springs, mattress and all. Heald has started his own company, Marys River Metal Work, to produce custom-built bicycle trailers, and he brought several samples of his work to assist with Sunday’s move.

Longtime cycling promoter Jenna Berman, a friend of Bronstein’s who works for the Oregon Department of Transportation as an active transportation coordinator, called the move “an interesting combination of advocacy and fun” and wore a purple cape for the occasion.

“I’m a big believer in bicycle bling,” Berman said. “I think when it’s fun and playful, more people will do it.”

By a few minutes after 10 a.m., the bikes were lined up in the street, loaded and ready to roll. Bronstein, a pair of gauzy butterfly wings pinned to the back of her shirt, pedaled to the front of the group, hauling a trailer piled with boxes and folding bookcases. Lashed carefully to the top of the load was a family heirloom: an instrument case cradling McKrill’s grandfather’s trumpet.

“Thank you all so much for coming,” Bronstein told her two-wheeled caravan of helmeted helpers as she began a brief safety pep talk.

She had previously passed out maps of the 17-block route, which kept to side streets to avoid traffic as much as possible. She asked everyone to be careful and courteous to motorists and said one or two riders would act as crossing guards at busy thoroughfares such as Kings Boulevard, Grant Avenue and 29th Street.

“We’re going to try to stay together,” she said. “You should all be able to just follow the leader all the way there.”

Then, with a ringing of bells and a tooting of horns, the motley motorcade got underway, much to the delight of passer-by Ginny Romsos, who stopped to snap a picture with her cellphone.

“You’d never see that in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,” she said.

It took less than 15 minutes for the group to reach its destination (except for Tuttle, who came walking up with his wagonload of goods several minutes behind the peloton) and begin unloading.

Almost everything else — including a chest freezer — made it over on the second run, leaving just a couple of boxes of miscellaneous items for later pickup. By 12:15 p.m., there was nothing left to do but order the pizza and buy the beer.

“Everything went really smoothly,” McKrill said, adding there were no bike wrecks or conflicts with motorists. “As far as I know,” he said, “all the furniture is still intact.”

Surveying the happy chaos at her new home, Bronstein pronounced herself pleased with her bicycle move and the outpouring of support it generated.

“Corvallis is an incredible community,” she said. “This is something I’ve been dreaming of doing for a very long time, and I’m excited that I finally got the chance to do it.”

Reporter Bennett Hall can be reached at 541-758-9529 or bennett.hall@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @bennetthallgt.

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Special Projects Editor, Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald

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