This was a tough weekend as I set out on a personal vendetta to find my bike. I hit two of the bike shops to spread the word (and get a taste of the new products), but then set out on the frustrating task of visiting the local pawn shops, and they are everywhere. If you know me, you've got to know how unpleasant of an experience this is for me. I hate going to thrift stores. It just feels dirty in there. Pawn shops are even worse. They are not just filthy places full of used junk, but likely stolen stuff too run by crooks who prey on the weak and poor. Before my bike was stolen, I'd only been in one before and didn't muck like it. Now I get to go to them all on a regular basis because I don't trust them to turn in my bike if it turns up there. Granted, some of these pawn shops I'm sure are run by honest people who do try to keep stolen goods out of their shop. And how are they going to know what is stolen and what is not?
I believe I met one of these guys this weekend. The owner of the shop has just closed his doors when I pulled up. He came over to me, on his bicycle, and asked what I was looking for. I told him my situation and he assured me he'd look out for my bike. In fact, he said he will not pawn a bike unless the person can prove ownership of it. Being a cyclist himself, I truly believe he'd report someone bringing in a stolen bike. I can only hope so.
As I left, I followed the shop owner down the street before turning on to Broadwater. I saw a cyclist ahead of me, and as I now do automatically out of paranoia, my eyes immediately go to the bike. My heart jumped out of my chest. A YELLOW TREK 4300. MY YELLOW TREK 4300!!! It had to be. I passed him but didn't get as good of a look as I needed. One of the girls in the back seat saw my concern and yelled "Dad, that's your bike!" I tried to remain calm. What am I going to do? I can't just push this guy off the bike and hope its truly mine. If I confront him, he'll take off and I'm sure never to see the bike again since I'm bound to a car and he can go anywhere on that bike. If I call the cops, they'll never get here in time. And what if its not my bike?
All of this is racing through my head in the matter of seconds it takes me to pass the guy. I decided I needed a better look. My blood is boiling now and my heart pounding in my chest. I only have a few more seconds to figure out what to do. Okay, how can I identify my bike from a distance. I had a bike bag, speedometer, fenders, and bottle cages. That bike didn't have any of those but those are easy enough to remove. I replaced a rim but how am I going to see that as he's riding. Wait, I replaced the crank arms, and I think they are chrome now instead of the stock black ones. I quickly check the picture and sure enough, chrome crank arms.
I slowly pull back onto Broadwater and approach the cyclist (who is illegally riding on the sidewalk). Excited and terrified, I pull up next to him. My heart sank and another wave of disappointment hits me. BLACK CRANK ARMS. It's not my bike.
We take off. Now the girls are super revved up and ready to take on the world to get my bike back. I just want to go home, eat lunch and die on the couch, but Tara pushes to check out more pawn shops. There are two more on the way home. I figure we can duck in quickly and take a look. Nothing. As I walk out the door, the guy on the Yellow Trek that is not mine passes on the sidewalk and just about hits me. It takes all that I have to not reach out and shove that jerk off his bike. I hate him now and its not his fault. He has my bike and its not fair. I try to brush it off but it still stings. I can't even yell at him to get off the sidewalk without shouting other things that I'll regret so I bite my tongue, hang my head down and get back in the car. What an exhausting day and I don't think I even accomplished a thing.
It will sure be nice when this paranoia and frustration fades. I bought a brand new heavier lock and still haven't used it yet. The bike comes inside with me now. I had to go to the library today and instead of riding over after work, I rode home and got in the car and drove to the library because I couldn't think about leaving my bike unattended (although locked up) with selfish thieves roaming the neighborhood. I am considering buying a U-bolt lock for extra security, plus I'm sure it would knock out a few teeth if I ever find that jerk who took MY bike!