A person is said to be made up of different identities that collectively make them who they are. For example, some IDs I associate with are: son, friend, athlete, communicator, and student. Depending on the situation, I will utilize different areas of my identity. First and foremost, however, I am a man, and (political correctness aside) I share common interests with my fellow man... you know, guy stuff... like a good old-fashioned heist. I'm hardwired to appreciate a well planned sting operation. The hair on my neck stands up watching Ocean's Eleven.
So when an opportunist, stake out artist, gymnast, and master thief (first and foremost, however, an A-hole) weaseled their way between two buildings and vaulted through a foot wide gap in my bathroom window to access my Inner Sunset apartment, part of me is a little intrigued. Then you go on to raid the place of electronics, walk out the front door past my neighbors, and ride my bike away in broad daylight?! Pretty exciting stuff. You are no Catherine Zeta Jones, but Bravo.
But dude/gal, you took my bike... do you realize what you have done?
Cyclists understand that bicycles are more than a transport vessel. There is much more to them than a frame and wheels... more than steel, carbon, rubber, and air... more than a few $100 in parts when stolen, chopped, and resold. Bicycles are part of the rider's identity. A mutual relationship is built as sweat drips into the handlebar tape and flecks of blood lodge into the chain after wipeouts. Riders trust their bikes to take them up mountains, keep them safe on steep downhills, and stop in an instant when the brakes are squeezed in traffic.
The pain from a stolen bike is not in the cost of replacement. It is about what is not replaceable: The relationship between rider and trusted companion.
For those who have loved and lost (your bike) perhaps you can relate. Empathize with me in remembering Reggie Jr.
Reggie Jr. is a bronze colored, steel framed 1982 Trek road bike. Born in Waterloo, WI, just miles from where I grew up, Reggie spent his first 30 years in the Dean family. He safely escorted my dad on his Milwaukee commute and on a few races including the 1990 Tin Man.
I rode Reggie for the first time in 2006 as I entered my sophomore year of college. He had gotten banged up a few years prior and was in need of repair. My Dad agreed to let me take Reg to Madison if I fixed him. After the restoration project was complete there was a slight hesitation as Father passed on a piece of his past to the next generation. "Please take care of him," My Dad said as I drove away. Our father and son bond deepened and a new relationship between Reggie and I began.
New to road biking, Reggie kept me safe even when I rode recklessly, bucking me only when I really deserved it. For years, I took him all over Madison going to school and work, but we grew closest riding the Capitol City trail during the summers. With no class in session, a majority of students leave town, leaving open bike paths and lots of time for cruising.
Our last 18 months together were our happiest. Reg rode cross-country on the back of my Mazda, accompanying me 2,200 miles on our journey to San Francisco from Wisconsin. We enjoyed biking bliss, together navigating our new home and exploring all Northern California has to offer. Countless times he helped me escape from the stresses of life and work.
I wanted more time with you Reggie, and I confess that I imagined passing you on to my son someday. I hope whomever you end up with next treats you well, and that you keep them safe. Perhaps I will see you again. I miss you already buddy!
Keep the rubber side down... oh, and lock your bike.
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