Monday, January 15, 2007

Lock It or Lose It

When I moved to Vancouver my hippie Aunt, who drives and SUV and lives in Deep Cove, told me to “get a bike. It’s the quickest way around town.” This advice made its way through the family grapevine and my mother donated me her old Norco mountain bike (which she spray pained pearlescent pink for me), but as I was living a quick walk from school I never bothered to release the beast.

For three years it gathered dust in storage until I moved out of the Langara College getto. Being a starving artist, needing to get around the city and after dating a guy who rode a recumbent bike I was inspired to try it out. If only to get me further away from the memory of dating such an embarrassing man.

At first it was a burden; heavy, ugly, and tacky. Then one day something shifted and it did more that get me around; it got me off. I couldn’t get enough; the wind blowing in my face and my heart rate increasing with every hill. Seduced by the freedom of the open road like a teenager with a fresh drivers permit.

I discovered that my Aunt was right. What used to take up to 45 min on the bus (at the worst times) now only took me 15 min. This city is well planned for my freewheeling; traffic calmed roads, bike crosswalk buttons, and a gorgeous sea wall to cruise along. It not only got me off the bus; it saved me from Fitness World hell. I no longer had to deal with smelly people or their horrible music and I was getting buns of steel!

As honeymoon phases progress, gifts were bought: new fenders, breaks, a cute little basket. A beast no longer, my bike was something I was proud to show off to the hipsters on Main Street.
Then a moment of pure laziness occurred. As my landlord was putting in new plumbing causing trenches in the front yard I had to carry my bike down steps, through a twisted maze, and over a ditch on a rickety plank to even get to the back shed my baby slept in. I figured it was safe. It would never happen to me.

Late the next day and I went around back to grab my trusty steed and discovered an empty space where I had left ol’pinky. My helmet, which I’d left in the basket, was kindly left behind on a shelf.

My virginity of theft was taken from me in the night. I clutched my helmet to my chest and cried like a child who dropped its ice cream, knowing the Dicky-D truck was long out of site. There was only one person I thought would understand my pain; my recumbent bike riding ex-boyfriend. Once reached he scolded me for not properly locking it up- the jerk. I was a fool to think he would understand; who would steal a recumbent bike anyway?

Heartbroken, I filed a police report online but nothing ever came from it. Hundreds of bikes are stolen daily in the lower Mainland. The problem is so bad in Victoria that they have started a bait bike program there to catch the thieves. Knowing that I’m not alone was not enough comfort for me. My heart panged when I saw cyclists on the streets like a single girl feels when she passes a couple holding hands. Every time someone biked passed my house I would look up expecting it to be my bike returning home like a lost pet.

Bitterly I was back on the bus but it didn’t last long knowing that a monthly one zone bus pass costs nearly $70. I knew that my dollar could be better spent. I bit the bullet and bought a new one. No thief was gonna break my stride.

This time I’m not taking any chances. I have two locks; a U-lock through and a cable, both with key locks so no bic pens will open up these babies. I avoid my lawn labyrinth by carrying it upstairs.

This whole ordeal has been a life lesson; like riding a bike. Sure, if someone really wants to steal my bike they’ll find a way and I’m prepared for that.

Still, if you see anyone riding a spray-painted pearescent pink bike with a basket on the front give them hell for me.

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