This is a tale with a happy ending. A tale that actually involved no diarrhea and I ensure you can read this knowing that the heroine comes out victorious – but it wasn’t always like that…
See it all started in October with my new, less than 1,200 miles on it bike. I had finished riding my bike around the Pacific Northwest with a bunch of loons for an organization called Bike & Build. We all fundraised thousands of dollars, rode 900 miles, did some construction volunteering – all in the name of affordable housing (to read more about this experience, scroll around my blog and read my insane posts). Yes – this bike was my bleeding heart, means-so-much-to-me, cannot-live-without, charity bike.
My bike and I were about to head out to help a friend fix a flat when I realized I had left my hand pump in my apartment so I ran back in. I won’t lie, this is something I do ALL the time. Oh shoot – forgot my smoothie, gotta run and grab it. Or CRAP – did I turn the oven off? It is important to note here that it was NOT LOCKED. The photo on my bike poster featured an image of my bike locked up with my Altor Lock (which I love) but unfortunately it was in my bag, not secured to my bike. The thief did NOT cut my lock. After running back in for what had to be less than 1 minute, I came back and the bike was GONE. Helmet was on the front stoop and my head was exploding. Without thinking I ran back down and grabbed my beater bike and made my best guess at where the POS was headed. Later I will find out he turned left at the end of my street, and I went straight. Not specifically sure what I was considering doing once I found him, but I was basically black out riding.
After running into a friend about 10 minutes in the pursuit, I was brought back to reality and realized how irrational my continued search was. What were the odds that I was going to find this kid? I went home, called the cops and reported it missing.
The next few days were a blur. I went into the office the next day, but left immediately because I couldn’t think straight. I kept blaming myself for it being stolen. How was it my fault though – can I not REASONABLY keep my bike on my property for one minute without some shitwit thinking it’s his for the taking? I felt like nothing could console me. So I knew I had to get that shit back.
My search process was extensive, to say the least. For the next few weeks I was on CL for the DC, Baltimore, NYC, Richmond, Philadelphia and Pgh regions (you can significantly increase your search size with some clicks). I downloaded Offr Up, Letgo, Varage Sale and Feedly (an app that you can set up RSS feeds with). I joined every Facebook group with “Sale” included in the title – “DC BUY SELL FAST” “Fairfax Mom’s Garage Sale” “ARLINGTON VIRTUAL YARD SALE NO RULES.”, combed through them, and offered $200 for a tip that lead to the recovery of my bike. I joined groups for Lost or Stolen bikes, registered my bike on BikeIndex.org and Project529.org. I posted in Women and Bicycling: Washington DC and on my social media accounts. I wrote notes to all of my neighbors and local businesses asking for video surveillance (and was successful!). I got word of mouth out by making posters (they even went viral-ish and someone even asked me out for drinks lolol), posting them all over my neighborhood and to around local bike shops. The poster thing was a valiant idea, but I got a few false alarm calls that broke my heart each time. Overall, lets jut say I covered some bases. I knew if I hadn’t given my best efforts to get this bike back, I would keep blaming myself.
At one point I was convinced I found my bike on Offr Up – someone was selling a Liv, but a different model (a 2018 Brava for $400 GO F YOURSELF) with the same color scheme as my bike. To a petty bike thief with no idea how to identify a bike, I realized he could have thought this was mine. I showed my detective and he told me to hold on it. I did and the bike was sold less than 20 hours later. I was devastated.
Fast forward to the week before Thanksgiving and I found what I was 99% sure was my bike on the Baltimore area CL (see photo above) selling for $800 because the sellers wife bought it at the beginning of the season and then got pregnant. L-O-FUCKIN-L. If a woman got pregnant and owned this bike, she’d sell the baby before she sold the bike. GIVE ME A BREAK. I had been assigned a new detective that I hadn’t spoken to (I called my other detective so much he probably was STOKED at the opportunity to pass me off) and he agreed to look into it. I had already contacted the man using a Google Voice phone number pretending to be interested in the bike. There were several reasons why I knew this was my bike: the post-market pedals on this road bike were silver, double sided SPDs, the rims were sticker free, and I could see the sticky-ness in the place where they took off my bike shop sticker.
My detective emailed me letting me know he had not been successful in recovering my bike, but like.. HOW? Did he go see the bike and it didn’t match my serial number? Did he contact the guy and he wouldn’t meet with him? Did they get into a fight and the guy left with the bike? WHAT? A cop not good at communicating – go figure. Anyway, then I knew that if I wanted to see for myself, I would have to do it myself.
I enlisted the help of a generous friend that works for diplomatic security. He is the kind of guy that believes in paying it forward (plus if he is trained to take down assassination attempts, I think he would be able to take down a CL turd). He drove me up to Columbia, Maryland after we had arranged for “my boyfriend Tony” to come pick up the bike from the seller at the Columbia Mall. The two of us were pretty on edge, me at an extreme. The plan was to have cops on standby while my friend went over to inspect the bike. He would confirm it was my serial number and then I would come over with the cops.
My friend and the perp were standing there inspecting the bike when the cop showed up with his flashlight and I ran through the cars breathlessly – my heart POUNDING out of my chest. The guy was not the kid that stole my bike for sure, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t already feel extreme hate for him. The cop told him he was selling a stolen bike and I was the owner. The perp explained that he found the bike in an abandoned building in Capitol Hill. He works for a restoration company and his boss told him whatever he finds in these buildings he can keep. He found the bike in a basement “littered with needles and pills and shit”. He got the bike appraised for $1,500 at a bike shop and decided to make some money off of it. He made up the pregnancy story so that he wouldn’t be lowballed when people were making offers on the bike. COOL. He asked the cop if he was being arrested, but the cop told him that I can press charges but that’s the extent of what would happen then. That and I would be walking away with my bike.
He asked me not to press charges. He told me he had a kid. Whether I believe this man’s story or not, I told him that the morals and values he’s passing down to his kid are enough to make me want to press charges. How can he think that (allegedly) finding a $1,500 bike in an abandoned building means that he is entitled to make money off of it? There is no way a cyclist went down to that basement, dropped that bike and was like, “Oh yeah, I’m done with this shit”. So yeah, for your lack of efforts for getting this bike back to whomever it was stolen from, you should be charged. If I find a wallet on the ground, or a phone or anything, I try like hell to get it back to the person – not SELL IT – because it’s not my property. I didn’t earn that, I don’t deserve the profits. It took me months to earn that bike and it meant so much more to me than just a bike.
In the end, I walked away victorious. I walked away knowing that I got my bike back. The original thief is still out there. He might still be stealing bikes and ruining the lives of people that actually need them or give a hoot about their property (go figure). My poster says that I hope he gets diarrhea for every minute I don’t have my bike back, but now that I have it back, I’ve decided I still want him to have diarrhea.
Tailwinds forever friends,