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Mike Barry, a life in cycling

From scavenging bike parts during the Blitz to building frames, and building enthusiasm for riding, in Canada

Mike Barry Sr.

Courtesy Mariposa Bicycles

Michael John Barry, father, grandfather, husband and a pillar of Canada’s cycling community, died on Dec. 29 at Mount Sinai Hospital. He was 80.

Born in Wimbledon, England, in 1938 to Percival and Eva Fanny (Vardill) Barry, Mike was a builder of communities, an inexhaustible source of knowledge of all aspects of cycling and a mentor to countless people. Although quiet and modest, he was loath to take credit for his many achievements or his profound influence.

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Mike’s association with cycling began with London’s derelict bombsites, which he scavenged for bicycle parts following the Second World War. He sold some of the better parts to fund his cycling, which started when he was 10. Others became the foundation of what became an extensive collection.

After serving in the Royal Air Force, and racing on its cycling team, Mike moved to Canada in 1965. As he travelled throughout the world as a spectrometer technician, Mike, along with his friend John Palmer, purchased a collection of bicycle tubing that had once belonged to C.C.M. In 1969, Mariposa Number One emerged from a rented basement workshop. Nearly 50 years later, and somewhat to Mike’s amazement, Mariposas continue to be hand built in Toronto.

Along with Mariposa, Mike co-founded, with Mike Brown, Bicyclesport, which set a new standard for bike stores in Canada. While Mike was in the bicycle business, he never regarded himself as a businessman. Mariposa, Bicyclesport and his subsequent shops became the birthplace of several bicycle clubs and teams for both adults and children. Mike, along with his wife Clare (Lapp) Barry, who he married in 1972, volunteered as race organizers and officials.

But above all, Mike was a source of inspiration, knowledge and guidance and witty conversation for generations of cyclists ranging from commuters and bike couriers to elite road racers. He changed many of their lives. The only cycling discipline that never attracted his attention was mountain biking.

Mike was also a keen runner completing the Boston Marathon in 1981.

Mike and Clare’s son Michael inherited his father’s love of cycling. Along with his wife Dede (Demet) Barry, Michael continues to run Mariposa. Their children, Liam Barry and Ashlin Barry both joined their grandfather on rides.

Until several weeks ago, Mike was riding his regular route from north of the Metro Toronto Zoo to Annina’s Bakeshop in Goodwood, Ont. As always, he ordered tea and an Eccles cake.

A funeral will take place at Rosedale United Church, Sat., Jan., 5 at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers donations can be made in his memory to the World Bicycle Relief or the Bicycles For Humanity.

Mike Barry Sr.
Mike Barry Sr. Image: Mariposa Bicycles/Bicycle Specialties