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Friday, March 28, 2014

An Open Letter to The Thieves Who Stole My Bikes

Posted By on Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge sanfrancycle_thumb_500x107_thumb_560x119_thumb_560x119_thumb_560x119_thumb_560x1.jpg

Dear bike thieves:

I've long thought to myself how much I prefer bikes to humans. You confirmed that feeling last weekend when you broke into my garage while I was asleep and stole four of my bikes. When you ripped off my bikes, you stole something a lot more important than an amalgamation of steel, aluminum, metal, and leather. You took an old friend and my primary means of transportation.

I hope whoever you sell those bikes to at the very least appreciates them as much as I have over the years.

I know I was privileged to have some nice bikes -- and privileged enough to have renter's insurance to cover them. But that doesn't give you carte blanche to the items in my garage. Unlike you, I worked my ass off to pay for those bikes. They were my transportation. They were my physical therapy. They were my mental healthcare. They enabled me to do things that I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise -- bike camping and bike tours. They were my travel companions through five cities in the last few years.

Don't get me wrong: I do love shopping for bikes and bike parts. It's one of my guilty pleasures. It's practically a hobby. With that, I could see how you'd think this was actually an opportunity for me to do more of that. But really, there comes a point in your cycling career that your bike -- or in this case four -- is seemingly irreplaceable.

click to enlarge My bike on its last hurrah in Portland's Forest Park.
  • My bike on its last hurrah in Portland's Forest Park.

My ZR Cycles -- a frame made for me, by a small builder in Madison, WI -- was among the victims. I committed to buying this frame even before I had the money to spend. I paid for it with prize money from a poetry contest and leftover cash I earned working as a bike messenger. Zack Rielley built it for me with the intention of sending it to the North American Handmade Bicycle Show -- it never made it to fame, but it is pretty unique to me.

click to enlarge Me and my bike five years ago. - PHOTO BY JON KENDZIERA
  • Photo by Jon Kendziera
  • Me and my bike five years ago.

I guess the silver lining in all this, bike thieves, is that that frame will be worth nothing on the used market. I'd been hit by cars on that bike, the alignment is probably off, the derailleur hanger is bent, and it's not attractive anymore: it's only half-painted now. It's a beat up old frame built by a not-well-known and now retired frame builder. So good luck with that sale.

My other bikes you took would cost me a mint to replace, but just the same they won't be worth much to you. My roommate's old Eddy Merckx was similarly battle-scarred and weather beaten. That bike had seen years of abuse in New York City. Even a Merckx with no paint is hard sell. The Schwinn Circuit that I built my partner a few years ago in Chicago with a basket and cruiser bars you also took. She said it was her "perfect bike." Was is the key word here.

click to enlarge Stolen Schwinn Circuit with basket.
  • Stolen Schwinn Circuit with basket.

Finally, the last bike taken was an old Trek fashioned into a Rivendell-style gravel-road 29er specifically for riding fire roads in the East Bay. This bike is so weird that I can't imagine anybody other than me even wanting to ride it. Oh, and just so you know: the tires rub so you might want to get that fixed before you post it on Craigslist.

Maybe you'll get $50 a pop at the flea market for these bikes. I've already wasted too much time trolling Craigslist and flea markets for my stolen goods -- and I will continue to do just that, hoping I catch up with you.

I'm sure it was worth it to you to steal these bikes. I'm sure that you'll make a few bucks that you can spend on a round of burritos for the group. But just know that I've called the Oakland Police and yes, I plan to press charges if and when they find you.

Until then: Good luck with your Craigslist sale, bike thieves.

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About The Author

Leif Haven

Leif Haven

Leif Haven is a writer and cyclist living in the Bay Area. He can be spotted dragging himself up a hill — literally and metaphorically.


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