The joy ride, the stolen bike – the seemingly inevitable loss for cyclists

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - A stolen bike in Ghent

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – Another stolen bike

It is a loss we have all shared, whether it has happened to us or to a close friend, family member. The theft of a bike, their bike, and the frustration, the anger, the self-blame that surround the act. And we can all be sure, whoever stole our bikes, only for a joy ride, only to sell on for a fraction of their worth, never cared about the vessel, never showed our precious any real love or concern.

I found this bike in Ghent, Belgium. Clearly the end of a joy ride, the rear wheel smashed out of true and simply thrown onto a bush and abandoned. I can only hope it found its way back to the owner, bout that is doubtful.

I lost one bike in my life. I went to London, UK, to the local office. The bureau had changed policies and I was told I was no longer allowed to store the bike in the corridor. It had to be left outside. I locked it to a fence in the courtyard and went back to my desk. Twenty minutes later, I looked to see if it were safe – and it was already stolen.

I was ill, furious, in disbelief. I remember walking out and touching the void where the hike used to be, thinking it might reappear.

The cost was serious enough. It was a good, basic bike. A Ridgeback Comet and I loved it. When I bought it, I had the shop customise it with a better position, new tires and clip-on pedals. It was a screamer. An ideal aggressive messenger/city bike hybrid.  I wanted it back.

I sat on the phone and called three Ridgeback shops and found the identical bike, instructed them to make the same changes, then picked up the bike a couple of hours later. The stolen bike was immediately pushed into my past.

I despise bike thieves. Bikes belong to a person the way a horse belonged to the early settlers. It was “THEIR’S”. To steal a bike is to take something so precious and personal.

There are seven bikes cluttering my house now. They are all MINE. When I have them on the road, they give me tremendous joy. Just the idea they could be taken from me. Unbearable.

Doing this blog, I regularly talk to riders who have experienced bike theft. We all speak about it as if we have lost jewellery. Something intimate and personal.


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