Gimme That Bike ... Back!

Dear Westside Bike Thief,

RE: The Sweet Red Ride You Stole From My Garage.

I hope you intend to use the aforementioned mountain bike as a gift for a child, or that you just had to get somewhere in a hurry, like to visit your mother in the hospital. I’d even be able to justify your actions if you were simply selfish enough to want her for yourself. God knows, I loved her.

But, rest assured, whatever your reasons, you’ve no need to worry about being caught.

I called the LAPD to find out how to file a police report, and the officer I spoke with was kind enough to invite me down to the station. However, she also imparted the chilling reality: “It won’t do any good.”

I took her at her word and didn’t waste my time.

I told the managers of my building in the hopes that they would care enough to warn other residents to protect their own bikes, maybe even endeavor to lock their car doors. But, the managers rebuffed me. “You saw the signs!” the one manager insisted. “We’re not responsible for stolen items!” My efforts to explain that I held no one responsible fell on deaf ears. The other manager shouted something from deep within the management lair. It sounded like “We don’t care about anybody!”

Call me a sucker, but I still believe we’re all in this together.

I tried putting up signs in the elevator and lobby, just to warn other residents that you were lurking in the shadows of our dirty parking garage, perhaps emboldened by your successful bike heist.

Unfortunately, someone stole the signs within the hour.

Dear thief, I don’t know how long you coveted my bike, but I would certainly understand it if you thought it cold of me to bind her to that railing in the garage for the past five years. I took her out for fewer than a half dozen rides during that time. My excuses are not original. I got married. I was working too much. I don’t like riding on pavement.

It wasn’t always like this.

Not that you noticed before taking a pair of wire cutters to the cable lock intended to keep her safe, but I didn’t let her rust. I oiled the gears and wiped away the city soot that would settle on the handlebars and seat. I kept the tires inflated and the brake cables taut. You wouldn’t know her age to look at her, still as pretty as she was when I spent what to me was a fortune 15 years ago.

You were probably drawn to her for the same reasons as me — the red paint and that modified seat post. She was the last of the shockless mountain bikes, born as my generation was reinventing ways to use bicycles, and ski areas in the summertime.

Back then I rode her more than 500 miles a month from April to December. Every weekday before dawn we stirred up clouds of Rocky Mountain trail dust, and each weekend we joined friends who measured rides not only in miles, but altitude. Climbing 3,500 feet was never more of a pleasure than it was with her. She introduced me to snowballs on the Fourth of July, endured treacherous stream crossings at high speeds, and hurried me below the tree line on those few occasions the afternoon thunderstorms snuck up behind me. Together that bike and I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had. We raced together. We went places no plane, train, or automobile ever could. And we flew, sometimes in opposite directions.

She and I both broke down on occasion. One time we were 30 miles and 3,000 feet from home when her derailer tangled itself into a pretzel. But after a bit of surgery with a wrench and a coat hangar, she carried me home and then some, until I could afford a proper repair.

I suppose she will be as reliable for you as she was for me, regardless of the dishonest way in which you obtained her. I just hope you’ll remain as true in return, especially considering that in our busy and sophisticated world you can get away with stealing whatever sweet ride catches your eye.

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