Dear Portland: Let’s Find This Stolen Bike!

Format Gallery

Bike thieves – they are the scourge of the cycling community. I recently had my mountain bike stolen, but it was miraculously recovered in just four days. Putting the word out online really helped with its return, and I’m hoping we can do the same for my friend Justin.

I asked him to email me the story about his missing bike and why it’s so important to him. We can all assign a monetary value to our bicycles, but as you know, its real value isn’t about its price tag.

“Here’s the story of my favorite bike ever. A 1980’s De Rosa Super Prestige pista. I purchased the bike from a gentleman on eBay in February of 2005. It was impeccable. Brand new. Mint. Not sure if the guy ever rode it. I took photos of the unopened box after the UPS man delivered it. Then I took photos of me opening the box, and pulling the frame out. I had never been so enamored with a bike. I was in bike love. All those years of staring at old De Rosa catalogs on the website, and now I had one, a perfect one. Not only was it a De Rosa, it also had an ornate decal celebrating a variety of Eddy Merckx’s victories on the top tube. “Incredible”, I thought. The bike was outfitted with Campagnolo’s C-Record pista group and Cinelli bars and stem. It was 100% Italian. I rode it at Hellyer, I rode it around SF, I rode it everywhere.

In August of 2006, I moved to New York for a short time. Knowing full well that bike theft was rampant in the Big Apple, I opted to leave my De Rosa behind in a storage locker I had rented. I thought, “it’ll be safe here”. Now in New York, with fall approaching, I sent my wife (then girlfriend) to my storage locker to fetch a heavier blanket for me. She called me from the storage locker, “Justin, there are 2 locks on your door, I only have the key for one”. Why were there 2 locks on my storage locker door? “There must be some mixup,” I remember thinking. My wife fetched a Public Storage employee to ask about the additional lock. He explained to her that they put an extra lock on because they found my door open. THEY FOUND MY DOOR OPEN!? WHAT!? Why didn’t anybody call me? She finally gets into my locker, and it’s worst case scenario. Everything is gone. Computer? Gone. Records? Gone. Guitars? Gone. DE ROSA!? GONE. **An important side note to this was that, just a few months earlier, my band, Film School, had our van stolen while on tour in Philadelphia. All of our gear was stolen. One of the basses that the thieves took from my storage locker was the replacement bass from the Film School theft. I’d just been kicked in the nuts…TWICE.**

I frantically called friends, posted on message boards, put up fliers, talked to messengers, filed a police report, complained to Public Storage, posted on craigslist, etc. I was optimistic I’d find it. I thought there was no way a bike of that caliber could stay hidden for that long. I setup an RSS feed to notify me anytime something with the word De Rosa was posted to craigslist. I did the same thing on eBay. I did everything. It never showed up though. It was gone.

Then, a few days ago, a random stranger on the San Francisco Fixed Gear message board sent me a craigslist link. It was a De Rosa, blue, same color as mine. It had the same nicks on that incredible Eddy Merckx decal. It was my bike. I emailed the seller in hopes of buying it back, but received no response. The ad has since been pulled, and the bike is gone, again.”

We’ve already started to put the word out in the Portland cycling community. Several friends of ours who live in Portland have already alerted their colleagues, co-workers and the media. But we also need your help getting this bike back! Share this post, be on the lookout wherever you go — bike shops, flea markets — and online. The De Rosa couldn’t have strayed too far as it was just sold last night via craigslist. We hope with your help that Justin might finally be reunited with his beloved bike.

Today Was A Great Day For A (Recovered) Bike Ride

Dear Cycling Community,

So I’m still in shock about the return of my mountain bike this morning. I really can’t believe that it came back – with the help of Jillian Betterly and many others – and am truly thankful for the kindness and amazing superpowers of all of you.

The Bearded One and I felt that the best way to celebrate its happy return was to go on a long ride in Marin. We headed from Mill Valley up Railroad Grade to East Peak, hooked left onto Ridgecrest, then dropped down Lagunitas Trail which eventually led back up to Ridgecrest. From there we rode part of the Seven Sisters to the Bolinas-Fairfax Ridge Trail, then took Jewel Trail to Samuel P. Taylor. We took a pit stop at a great little Indian restaurant in Lagunitas (and our appetizers were the blackberries that we foraged along the way, there’s a million bushes in bloom right now!), then continued onwards back to Mill Valley via Sir Francis Drake and beyond.

49 miles with 4091 ft. of climbing and worth every minute. Thank you again for making this and other rides possible!

My Stolen Bike Was Found With Your Help, Thank You My Fellow Cyclists!

Dear Cycling Community,

Thank you so much for helping to find my stolen Ibis. I really, really can’t thank you enough. My husband and I have been having a tough time lately, and when I woke up Thursday morning and realized my bike was gone – I was pretty devastated.

But I emailed every cycling group I knew, posted my story Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Google+ and cycling forums, put up flyers and just hoped that it might come back to me. A part of me was resigned to my fate and had started the insurance claims process, especially after we came back empty-handed from making the rounds at two flea markets yesterday morning. But I received so many messages of support – I wish I could thank you all in person – that I wasn’t yet ready to consider it gone forever.

So when Shawn got the call this morning that the Ibis had been found by Jillian Betterly, I was in serious shock. It only took four days to recover my bike. I’m lucky that the thieves were greedy enough to try and sell the bike locally. I’m also lucky that you helped spread the word about my bike so that it seemed like everyone in California and beyond knew about its disappearance. And I’m especially grateful that Jillian, who was also looking for a bike that had been stolen from her property*, was at Laney College this morning with a friend. Once she spotted the guy, she followed him quietly so as not to spook him. When he was ready to drop it off at a vendor, she showed him a photo of the Ibis and said it was stolen, then took it. I picked it up this morning from the downtown PUBLIC Bikes store in Oakland where she works.

So thank you, my cycling community. I’ve already cried many tears of happiness this morning and really owe the return of my bike to you. I’m truly touched by everyone who helped my bike find its way home.

If you can do me one more favor, please share this story. Over the past few days, I heard many sad stories of bikes being lost, seemingly forever, and then suddenly – they were found through the diligence of our community. We won this round, and if you’ve ever had a bike stolen – or ever have the misfortune of having one stolen – you may get it back because the cycling community is truly awesome. And we are united in our ongoing battle against the villainy of bike thievery. So thank you again – I will go on a bike ride today in your honor!

****I asked Jillian if she needed help finding her stolen bike, but she declined – it’s a long story.