We had a break-in this week. Our parkade was targeted. Some scumbag thief sawed through the bike rack and made off with our neighbour's bike, an event that brought back painful memories of past bike thefts.
For dedicated cyclists, bikes aren't just another piece of gear or transport mechanism. Each bike is completely unique and comes with its own set of memories and stories. I've struggled with this each time I've had a bike stolen: the Rocky Mountain Soul that got me riding for fun again after years away from bikes; the Vapor that took me to every library branch in the city on a fundraising ride for an injured co-worker.However, the loss of the third bike is the one that really stands out.
After the Vapor was stolen I was lucky enough to find another Soul on Craiglist (I'd decided by this point that I wasn't going to buy new again). After seeing an original sales receipt from the owner to make sure it wasn't the result of someone else's loss, I rode it home and it felt absolutely right. I was a perfect fit.Several months later I blew out my left knee in a skiing accident and had reconstructive surgery that left me facing almost a year of rehabilitation. When my physiotherapist cleared me to get back on the bike six weeks later, it felt like learning to ride all over again.
I wobbled very slowly along the Spanish Banks bike path with the seat cranked two inches higher than normal to accommodate the fact that my leg still wouldn't bend properly. After weeks of tedious and extremely restricted leg exercises in the gym, it felt like I got my freedom back. Initially I was only allowed to ride on flat terrain and in easy gears. But it was enough for me to meet one of the biggest goals that I'd set for myself in the aftermath of surgery.
By the time I went back to work, I was able to make my regular commute over the Burrard Street Bridge. Very slowly and creakily-it took me almost twice as long as normal-but it was a huge milestone in the road back to the healthy life I'd known before.Two months later, the bike disappeared from outside our front door. It was thieved during the night, and it didn't feel like I was exaggerating all that much when I told people someone had stolen my soul.
As I'd gradually expanded my wobbly rides from Jericho up to UBC and eventually all the way out along Marine Drive to Iona Beach, the bike was the one outlet I had to make up for all the activities I couldn't do.
I replaced my bike-I had to-with a much older Rocky Mountain that was a lower theft risk, but in this case even the shiniest, newest replacement wouldn't have compensated for the loss. I'm sure thieves never stop to consider how much they are taking away when they steal a bike for a quick cash fix, but sometimes it's more than they could ever know.
Kay Cahill is a cyclist, librarian and outdoor enthusiast. Read more at sidecut.ca or email email@example.com.
Was your beloved 10-speed stolen? Did a thief make off with your custom fixie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell Kay what made your bike special and what you did to get even or get another set of wheels.