a Happy Bike Month. Details of my bike rescue.
The fixed.gr forum in NYC is a place where you can announce an event, find a good recipe, post up your favorite album for download or sell your bicycle. It's no different then any other on-line community, interested in a particular activity. This one happens to be about bicycles, particularly the kind that have the back wheel cog permanently attached to the wheel.
One of the threads in the forum has received some recent attention because of the rise in stolen bicycles. People have posted up here in the hopes that others out there who aren't talking about bikes but actually riding them, might happen to see a stolen bike and take some action. This is exactly what happened to me on Sunday, and I was out of town. Some really amazing people in our "bike community" went way out of their way to rescue one bike bloggers ride. I am shocked, amazed and elated. I am thoroughly impressed with what went down and I believe it is a real reflection of our community, and how we aren't all talk on a forum.
Here are some of the details and heroics. (If I get any of this wrong, please let me know)
On Sunday, May 25th, I was out of town in Toronto, attending the wedding of the woman who married us. Danny, an avid forums contributor, was rolling down Ave B, he ran into Roscoe, who he had never meet but recognized him from his bicycle he'd seen on the forum. Roscoe was finishing up a daily ride, all decked out in spandex, when the two meet up. Both of them had noticed an orange KHS on Ave. C. around 6th street, a bike they also recognized from the forum as being stolen. It was hard to miss the Green aerospoke wheel. They began to trail the guy, a short Hispanic male, in a cameo thermal shirt who looked very awkward and did not possess the skills to ride a brakeless fixie. Danny and Roscoe began to make phone calls to try and get some backup and identify the bike. Danny, spending time in Boston to attend school, got in touch with Christina, who we all meet a few months back at Jacob's Pony Up alleycat. She was instrumental in proving it was my bike and calling some other people including my lawyer. Danny's girlfriend was there and she asked Roscoe, if they thought the guy could get away. Judging by his weird riding style..."no way." Dan Bones, Chombo and others were called in this impromptu phone tree, all trying to help.
Roscoe and Danny followed the perp down 6th street towards Ave D. Past that he went into the projects where he got off the bike and meet up with some of his hommies, who Danny described as: "Bigger," and as laws of the jungle go, it would be harder to confront him. At this point Pablo and Jack Crank showed up. Jack had helped someone else out with another bike rescue so this was becoming old hat for him. At this point they had a large enough posse to step in and asked the guy where he got the bike. They argued for a while and explained that the bike was stolen and they wanted it back. Here's where the details are a bit foggy, but they were able to convince the guy to come out of his building lobby and go with them to a place where the rightful owner would pay for his bike back. This was obviously about money, the guy said he bought the bike for $150 on Houston street and didn't want to loose money. The conversation didn't get heated but the person with the stolen bike was faced with 4 or 5 really persistent people, enough so that hommies of his thought it would be best if he just gave the bike up.
The bike crew convinced the guy that I was over by the bike polo grounds at Sara D. Roosevelt park on Chrystie street. This was an attempt to get him to a place where there were a whole bunch more bikers who could help out in this. Some how the guy agreed to go, but not by bike. He had a minivan close by and said he would meet them over there. With some degree of difficulty he tried getting the bike in his van, which made everyone suspicious and the crew decided to follow in case he fled. Pablo tried skitched the van for a while. Others wrote down the guys license plate and phoned it into the police, saying they could identify a stolen bike in the back of a mini van. At this point the van was rolling down Houston Street near 1st Ave. and Brad who owns Trackstar rode up in front of the van, blocking its path, basically saying the jig is up, its over. At this point the van tried to flee the scene and Brad tore off after him and supposedly scratched the van. This made the driver very upset and he began arguing with Brad which stopped the vehicle and allowing the police to roll up behind him.
At this point, Jeff Underwood who owns Continuum was there and others from Polo, including Dylan on her bling fluorescent yellow Brooklyn Machine works ride, that would stop any potential bike napper.
Having the filled a police report minutes after I had the bike stolen really helped keeping the cops interest. In recent cases of bike theft, the reality is that it comes down to the owner having to prove its their bike which can become difficult. Not too many people have serial numbers on their bike or have kept the original receipt and could produce it on the street. I wasn't even in the same country at the time. The police don't want to get involved in street justice and would rather stay neutral, but they were detaining the guy and were probably interested in why so many people were involved in this one bike. They had also managed to get my lawyer on the phone which helped in building my case.
If it wasn't for some hard negotiating on the side from Jeff, the police were ready to just let the guy go with my bike. Jeff worked out a deal for $50.00 bucks to get the bike back and even invited the guy come down to his shop and get another bike, maybe one that wasn't so sought after by the bike community. The cops made everyone shake hands in some sort of UN peacekeeping gesture and everyone disbursed.
I am really amazed that all this went on:
Special thanks to:
Roscoe and Danny for starting off the search party
Pablo and Jack for convincing the guy not to disappear into his hood.
Danny's girlfriend for helping out
Christina for helping from Boston
Brad from Trackstar...Wow, for your amazing heroics.
Dylan for helping out with the muscle.
Chris K. for adding legal assistance via the phone.
Dan Bones for phone support
Jeff Underwood for sealing the deal.
Continuum and Trackstar are not just great bike shops but really amazing community hubs who will go out of their way to help a biker in need.
If I missed anyone out there, thanks for being part of the greenwheel rescue team!! I owe you all a beer, at least.
and for all those out there who made fun of me on various websites, where I was constructively trying to share my experience with others in the off chance that this could happen, you don't have to sit in silence and shame.
There is a vibrant tight knit, awesome bike community out there...doing really positvie things and might just go above and beyond to help you out.