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Requiem for a stolen bike

A brief requiem for a Trek, and some memories
Requiem for a stolen bike

June 21st. Summer Solstice. The longest day of the year, in more than one way.

At first I thought of calling this article, "Watermelon day at Safeway." But this is about a stolen bike, not about Safeway.

The bike in question is a red Trek 7200, a kind of hybrid bike—cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. Some might call it a "cruiser"—I think I've heard that term used before. A tall bike, so tall that it was a little too tall for me, and I'm 6' tall. Lowering the seat might help accommodate whoever's riding it now. I could never figure out how to lower the seat. (more description: the front tire was a unique Schwalbe tire, (unique to me) that's about ½ the width of the back tire. It's like double-thick rubber so will last for a couple years perhaps. The crankshaft chain rings are worn to nubs in places, particularly the middle ring. Seat fabric is just beginning to fray. Back rim is bent. No back brake.)

Was stolen on Wed. The 21st, between approx. 3:25-3:40 pm, from in front of Safeway on Mill Plain, (and 136th Ave.) Regrettably, it wasn't locked to anything, though it was leaning against a "no parking" sign in front of the store, (no parking—ha ha). I figured it might look like it was locked up—why else would anyone just lean a bike against a sign? The actual conventional bike rack-like object is about ¼ block away, down by Office Depot.

Over the years I've developed an attachment to the bike, similar perhaps to the attachment people form to pets, but not quite so intimate. After all, my bike isn't a living thing. But over the years I've considered how it's always by my side, or how I'm always on it, or lugging it up stairs, etc...This year I've lived in a place with stairs, and so I'd lug it up the stairs everyday on my side, as if it was attached to me.

On the other hand, I've considered that at times I've taken the bike for granted, not doing enough maintenance on it, not getting new parts for it, (which I can't afford in any case), and so on. For the first six months after I bought it, it sat in the place I was living, in the living room, collecting cobwebs. As if it was a piece of furniture, or a decoration, like the bike that hangs up in Seinfeld's apartment.

But that was years ago, and back then, I had a car...

After 9/11, my car broke down, so I began riding my bike much more. It seemed like a novelty at first—I'd never intended to become dependent on a bike, and I was never determined to not drive a car.

So over the years, the bike grew on me. We were like two entities thrown together, for some reason, that eventually formed a bond. And many people have complimented me about the bike over the years. I can't say that the bike was a conversation starter, (well, maybe in one or two instances), but there were many compliments.

I recall one day in Portland, it must have been a warm day, downtown, and I turned onto a street, I think it was Everett, maybe, and I had the feeling that the bike was really attuned to my body that day, almost as if me and the bike were one. The warmth of the day must have had something to do with it, loosening up the bike a little. I turned onto the street, and quickly got over to the right with a gesture that made me think the bike was acting of it's own accord, or anticipating my movements. Like it was "thinking" for me, or at least helping my body make the maneuver. Truly, it felt as if the bike was more like my arm or leg, and not detached from me.

That moment made me think of the Segway machine, and how it's alleged to have a bio-anticipatory mechanism which anticipates the directions people want to go, or how fast, or if they want to stop. And I thought, "I don't need a Segway, since me and this bike can essentially perform the task of human transport, almost unconsciously."

The main thing that gave me this sense was a quick lateral movement, to the right, just after the turn. It almost felt as if I'd made a little jump to the right, without even trying to, in my haste at getting over to the right. AS if the bike, sensing I needed to get over further, kind of hopped a little. There was no vehicle bearing down on me, so it's not as if the movement saved my life.


The bike was stolen at Safeway, as noted. It was the day of the summer melons, (and pineapples) in front of the store. There's been no word back from the police as of yet concerning the bike. It's an expensive bike, worth about $300, but with sentimental value as well. It's a sad day when there's a felony crime right in front of the local Safeway store, right in front of everybody, (actually, it's theft 2, a misdemeanor).

300$$$??? - what is that in bus fare's, three month's worth? 26.Jun.2006 14:43

No such thing as a free bike...

When you wheel that shiny new bicycle out of the shop remember that it is going to be trashed and burned some how one day. It could get crushed underneath you in some painful impact-oriented story, or simply nicked in the bat of an eye. Forget it, you cannot expect to hold onto something that can be so easily nicked and flogged - particularly if not locked, as it would not be if parked outside for one solitary purchase. If you value having your wheels stick to the golden rule of locking up, and always, it is a policy that works.
Also consider getting a sit up and beg 1950's 'roadster' with just the three gears and 26x13/8 tires. Nobody steals those, and it is much better to outclass people on such a more sensible machine. Who needs suspension when a laid back position with springs in the seat will do nicely? They don't make them like they used to, and instead of chewing gum aluminium and plastic, the old ones are 'steel is real' - made when the ores were good, and sometimes 'stainless' instead of chromed. Power to weight ratio of such a machine and rider might not seem promising, but have you weighed any of those Toy China bikes recently? None of them are using the good recycled car bumber no more, and no longer can a fair product be bought at the low price point, either get a posh bike and lock it up properly, every time, spending every moment away utterly paranoid, or outclass such machines with a clunker that needs no more than a 'bit of string' for security...
Bikes - modern classics or clunker classics - all need maintenance, and the best thing you can do with a bicycle (other than to ride it) is to take care that the tyres are inflated to the pressure given on the sidewall. Next, keep all clothing away from fast moving parts - the chain, and get that lubricated. This simple recipe works on 99 out of 100 bikes, resulting in instant gratification and speed bonus!
Brakes are also important, give the rims a good clean of any residue to get proper stopping power. Alignment and cables is best left to the bike shop if you have no aptitude for that - but, stopping distances matter for speed, even on a bicycle.
Regarding the seat, having that adjusted is vital for correct weight distribution on the bike, and to avoid injury from using the wrong muscles for the stroke. Having the seat wrong is not big or clever, and if you get it spot on you will wonder how you ever managed to have a power stroke beforehand.
Always ride assertively, not disgracefully, and show willing when it comes to stopping at lights. Obviously you don't want to be breaking up your exercise too much, so scan the horizon and 'pace' the lights instead of jumping them. Should you encounter stationary automobiles, complete with lone occupants 'sitting in traffic' do not hesitate to sail past - those people have no right to block a busy highway, particularly when they may have set off knowing that this is inevitably intended. Show no remorse with learner drivers, should during their instruction they get to get wise about cyclists then that is a good thing.
P.S. Helmets are purple! More for soccer mums to get their kids to wear,on their Chinese bikes!

Why 26.Jun.2006 15:08

enquiring minds want to know

If you were so fond of it why didn't you lock it up?

thanks for this useless post 26.Jun.2006 15:35

nice going

So this post says almost nothing except that you didn't bother to lock your bike, in front of a busy store, though you really really care for it a lot.

If you're trying to recover the bike, giving the ser. # or more identifying info would help a lot.

Are you aware of the various ways to report stolen bikes? One is to give the identifying info & serial # to police (there is an Oregon and a nationwide database for tracking bicycles), also the Stolen Bike Listings on bikeportland.org and the website stolenbicycleregistry.com:



Also, there are efforts underway to get bicycle theft made just as serious as automobile theft, considering both are vehicles and can be a person's main transportation vehicle. Are you interested in helping with this kind of thing, or just moaning about your stupidity in allowing your bike to be taken so easily?

here's an idea... 26.Jun.2006 17:32


...besides mounting a U-lock on your next ride. If you really love that feeling of being one with your bike, consider a single speed. I picked up an old Bianchi at Sellwood Cycles a couple of years back for $125, and they converted it to a single speed for another $25. It's still my main ride; (I also invested in generator lights at Citybikes, since I do so much night riding).

With single speeds, you can get something decent pretty cheap. Also check out Citybikes (though I never found their used bikes as good a deal as their used parts), as well as 7 Corners (if it's still in business) and that place up on Alberta.

One other thing I'll say, speaking as someone who's had many different bikes through the years, is that they're all beautiful in their own way. Good luck with your next ride.

too bad 26.Jun.2006 19:54

citizen x

1. Do not tempt honest people.

Thanks for ridding your bike. Sorry you got robbed. It never feels good. Try schroeders bike shop or gi joes to get a redo or new bike. Good luck and may your bike ride peace

dear kindred spirit.... 27.Jun.2006 23:15


I, too, had a 15yr old hybrid Trek stolen from me just last week. My dad bought me that bike when I was 15, and bought himself a matching one which I acted like I thought was dorky but secretly loved. Since then I moved that heavy ass bike around from state to state for 15 years -- sometimes riding it, sometimes letting it sit for a while without a wayward glance (he didn't get much action from 2001-2003: "The Fuel Years"). Yeah, I'm ashamed to admit I took him for granted the way you do with a long-owned overworked and underprized dependable possession. I wish that damn donkey was here for me to apologize to right now. I DID lock up my bike, unfortunately not with a fancy dancy super duper titanium high security lock...just a plain jane plastic covered cable lock. Parked on the west side of the Goodwill on 7th, soon it was gone. My trusty steed, being manhandled by the greasy palms of a ner-do-well. Oh! The humanity! So Trusty, if you're out there and you can hear me, I always meant to put stickers on you. Remember how I talked about painting you green? Oh and thanks for being a good sport during my trail riding phase of 96. I hope your new family loves you and brings you in out of the rain. May your kickstand keep you strong and steady all the days of your life.

I hate to pound a dead horse...I mean bike... 28.Jun.2006 06:38


...but those "plain Jane" chain locks are completely useless in protecting a bike. In fact, a bike thief will often home in when they see one; they can clip them and ride away in seconds. You don't need a "fancy titanium lock" to protect your bike, just a basic U-lock will do. Isn't your bike worth the @ $30 they cost?

goodwill should correct stealing from under their nose 29.Jun.2006 03:57

shit ain't right

damn, you know Goodwill has surveilance cameras recording on the premises. Did they not get the theif on camera? Would it be a security breach to show you the footage?
They get so many donated bikes they should totally re-donate to a theft survivor.
damn bicycle racket.

thanks for the warm (and not so warm) responses 30.Jun.2006 16:23

Peter Post

Note: before I posted the article, I saw the symbolic link between not having a back brake and the Segway machine, which reportedly has a design quirk which can send a rider on a forward fall, (George Bush reportedly fell forward on one). But I opted not to comment on this. Nobody chided me for not having a back brake, though that's potentially dangerous. My advice: don't ride w/o a back brake, if you can help it.

--As for why I didn't lock up the bike, that's a good question. Normally, I do--several times I've locked it to one of the "no parking" signs out front, or to the metal bike-locking object over by Office Depot. But I like variety, so on two or three occasions I've simply left it leaning against one of the "no parking" signs unlocked. The day before, for instance, I left it leaning against the same sign, unlocked, and went in for less than ten minutes to get some things.

Also, there's been about a dozen occasions where I've parked it closer to the entrance of the store, (there's a big entryway at this particular store), if I was just going to get a drink or something. (i.e. parked it unlocked) Those occasions were mostly in the morning, when there's very few people around, but once or twice in the afternoon, I think. And I've seen other bikes left unattended out front before.

--as to the comment about leaving it unlocked in front of a busy store--yes, it's often a busy store, but the people patronizing the store generally make a car/store/car loop--there's very few people who pass by on foot or bike, (well, there's sometimes a bike or two out front), i.e. not a lot of loitering, etc...this is east Vancouver, a low/no crime area, (at least conventional crime), though I guess with any place you get SOME crime.

Often, at places around east Vancouver, I would motivate myself to lock up my bike in spite of the low/no crime factor, saying to myself, "just pretend that this is a normal place."

thanks for the other comments. What's a China bike? Helmets are metallic slate colored! Visors don't work!

Are we twins? 16.Dec.2006 18:41

Claudio Vergara claudiov@cl.ibm.com


My blue Trek 7200 was stolen today, six month and 17,000 KM away from your experience. I used it daily for six years to go to my work and all the time that was with me, I felt the same you describe.

Being positive, if you travel to my country, contact me and with my family we will share beautiful ridings on, I hope, a new Trek 7200.

Thanks for your inspiring comments,

Claudio Vergara