Give and Take

//Give and Take

Give and Take

So I bought a slick new bike for the MS Bike Ride. Why? I had an extra thousand bucks I didn’t know what to do with it? No.

A couple of weeks before the ride I was in a coffee shop in town, not far from my house. I’ve been looking for a neighbourhood coffee shop to write in. One I could call “my” coffee spot. Cute. Eclectic. You know? Not a chain. But with Wi-Fi. Could this be it? I thought as I sat there, alternately gazing at my laptop, sipping my just-okay-latte – it was lukewarm, not hot – and gazing out the window at my bike in this low-slung bike rack that was impossible to attach a lock to. No problem. I’m right here. Watching.

I was actually in the process of posting my last blog Three Times Twenty when I looked up and . . . well, what do you do when the unexpected happens? The improbable, the unlikely, the insulting? I started shaking. My bike was no longer there. It had vanished.

I looked around, embarrassed. The shop was bustling. A fellow who’d just entered was vying for my attention. He’d just parked his bike closer to the window – leaning against it in fact – and wanted me to keep an eye on it.

“No lock,” he said.

“Well, I had a lock,” I said. “And it just got stolen with my bike.”

I’m so stupid, I thought as I rushed outside, looking this way and that, spotting a bike that I thought might be mine in a different spot, but no. And now whoever took it has the lock and the keys in my pouch! Even if I find it? “They” could just lock it and I won’t even be able take it back. Ludicrous!

As there was nothing much to do about it, I finished posting the blog. Then I suggested to the girls behind the counter that management might want to invest in a better bike rack, my bike just got stolen. As I stumbled away, I heard them launch into a conversation with each other about when one of them had their bike stolen.

I called my husband B – my house keys were with the bike lock keys so I asked him to pick me up, take me home, let me in – and when I got outside, I slid down onto a cement parking barrier and cried.

But that’s like crying over spilt milk, right? I did it anyway. And then I did it some more.

Why do people – my granddaughters, upon hearing the story, called them “robbers” – steal bikes? Hmmm. Well, in this case, it was a simple matter of opportunity: briefly unattended, unlocked bike meets bike robber passing by. But what are the chances? Exactly how many bike robbers are in my city? Googling “bicycle stolen feel stupid”, this came up: “Bike theft in town is ridiculous: londonontario – Reddit”. I guess there’s a lot. It seems the chances of a bike robber waltzing by while I was in a coffee shop – one that is most decidedly not “my” coffee spot – on a random Tuesday morning are 100%. Let this be a lesson to all of you.

The vast majority of the responses to “bicycle stolen feel stupid”? Locked bikes. A few years ago I had a locked bike stolen, in London, Ontario, from the underground parking at B’s condo. I didn’t feel as stupid. The only account that made me feel less stupid? A woman riding on a bike trail stopped to take pictures of some geese. When she turned back? Her bike was gone. Oh my god! Are you kidding me? Ever get that creepy feeling someone’s watching you? Well, you must own a bike! Bike robbers! They’re always watching!

One initial thought after the theft? Geez. I’ve been training on this bike all year to do this thing for charity, for multiple sclerosis. I’m focused on giving and all the bike robbers are focused on? Taking. They just take. Then this thought slipped in: Maybe “they” need that bike more than me. Jessica Ciencin Henriquez demonstrated this point with a story at about how she tracked her stolen bike down, then asked the young woman selling it back to her why she did it. It turned out she was pregnant, her boyfriend wanted to keep the baby – she didn’t – and they’d been arguing about where the money would come from, so he stole it. Henriquez forced the woman to take the $280 – not for the bike, but for the baby, for herself.

As bike theft is rampant throughout all major cities in the world, an article that might make you feel better as a bike owner is Bike theft is not inevitable at Through Project 529, city cop Rob Brunt and Xbox pioneer J Allard have managed to reduce bike theft in Vancouver, a program that will hopefully take off in other cities.

As for the MS Bike Ride? One hundred and fifty kilometres (90 miles) in two days? Surprisingly a piece of cake, especially on my slick new bike, which is lighter and faster than the one the bike robbers stole. The weather was terrific, and all of those kilometres logged on that missing bike prepped me well. When the final tally is in, as a team of 12 members, Rita 60 will have raised close to $12,000. Nice! And – again, when the final tally is in – the 1,465 cyclists in the event will have managed to reach our combined goal of $1.4 million. So impressive!

To Rita 60 team members: Way to go! To all of you who donated so generously: Thank you so much for your support! And to the bike robbers: Keep the cash on the sale if you’re down on your luck and/or having a baby. Congrats and good luck on turning things around, eh? Needed the bike for transportation? Then take good care of her, enjoy the ride. Stealing bikes for a living? Then throw a person in need a cut, will ya? For the karma.



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