Thursday 10 September 2015

I'll be gone and you'll forget...

I had my bike stolen this week.

At some point between going to bed at midnight on Monday night and coming downstairs a little before 7am the next morning, someone came into our garden, ripped the hasp of the padlock off the shed and stole our bikes. It was a pretty clean job: nothing else seemed to be missing and I couldn’t even find the screws they’d pulled out of the door to get around the padlock. They’d just come in through the back gate and probably left a couple of minutes later with our bikes. Job done. They would have clicked on the security light as they passed, but my bedroom is on the other side of the house, and I doubt I would have seen or heard a thing anyway. For all I know, my cat might have popped by for a tickle from them, the floozie.

Unfortunately, these things happen. I’ve been told that I seem remarkably phlegmatic about the theft, but to be honest, what can you do? Far better that someone breaks into my shed and nicks the bikes than tries to break into my house and nick some stuff that isn't as easily replaceable. It’s not very nice to know that someone has helped themselves to my stuff, for sure, but it feels somehow far less personal that they only went in the shed. The bikes were insured, so it’s mostly about the inconvenience.

Thanks to this burglary, and because my bike is the main vehicle for my commute, I was forced to drive to work for a couple of days this week, and I have been reminded quite how much I hate it. It’s not just the traffic, either (although it is that too: I left work on Monday night at exactly the same time as a 50-odd year old guy who rides a bike as though he’s riding a penny farthing. As I was sat in a queue of traffic at the last set of lights before I turn off the main road for home, he cycled serenely past me. So, apart from anything else, it’s just quicker on a bike, even when there isn't much congestion). I miss getting up in the morning and feeling first-hand what the day is doing. Having that fifteen-or-so minute gap between home and the office or between the office and home, when the simple act of pedalling seems to clear the mind and relieve stress. I might not exactly feel the wind in my hair, but I do get to see the turning seasons and the baby bunnies and things like that. It just felt wrong coming to work wearing a proper jacket rather than my bike stuff. Maybe I’m just a creature of habit and hated the change to my routine (showering at home in the morning? What fresh hell is this?).

Luckily for me, I had another bike in storage: the road bike that I used to use for triathlons and decided was a bit too lightweight for a daily commute. It was locked up in the storage facility with C’s really expensive bike. Last night, when C. got back from Turkey and was able to let me into the storage, I picked up that bike, pumped up the tyres and was happy to get back in my normal routine this morning. Then it becomes about the smaller inconveniences: I still have my bike lights, but the brackets they sit in were on the bike; my D-lock was attached to the bike... stuff like that, and because I got the bike on a cycle-to-work scheme, I have to inform my employer of the theft, but they clearly haven’t built a process to handle that….. ugh.

The police have told me to keep an eye on sites like eBay and Gumtree, as stolen bikes apparently often turn up on there and they don’t hold out all that much hope of catching the culprits otherwise (it happens a lot round here, I'm told.... so perhaps I'm lucky that, in all the years we've lived here, this is the first time for us.  For ages, I actually used to keep my bike under a cover outdoors, for goodness sake.

If I do see our bikes listed, it will be interesting to see how much they’re asking. I’m not sure a fairly heavily-used and very dirty commuting workhorse that you need to be a giant to ride will be worth all that much.

What a shame if it turns out to be barely worth the trouble stealing it.


  1. The loss of a bike due to theft sucks.

    When I lived in apartments, I'd store my bikes in my home, and would run a long cable lock through them. Even when I had a storage unit for a year, I locked them with a cable lock. Since we've moved into the house, I haven't locked them, but keep thinking I should.

    Back when I commuted by bike, I used to ride a Team 7-Eleven Eddy Merckx. It was an actual Pro racer's bike at one point. I figure that if it can withstand competitive racing, it can withstand commuting.

    You might also want to look into getting just the brackets for your lights, instead of having to get an entirely new lighting system. Many manufacturers will sell additional mounting brackets so that people can easily move their lights between bikes.

  2. That's exactly what I did, Dan. I was resigned to needing to buy new lights to get the brackets, but was delighted to discover they sell the brackets too. Good times! My road bike feels completely different to my hybrid, and this morning I broke my all-time fastest ride to work, so it's not all bad!

  3. It's amazing what a difference nicer/better/lighter/faster equipment makes.