I’ve been riding for three and a half years and only owned one bike, this one. It had been in storage for 30 years before I got it, and I completely restored it. It was perfect. I moved to Manhattan in March, and the bike was in hibernation in Brooklyn until May. I had to street-park it at my new place, but there were tons of bikes street-parked, and a lot of nicer, newer bikes than mine. I had a chain lock, a disc lock, and a cover.
I signed a contract on Labor Day weekend with a parking garage for storage beginning October 1. Three days later, I came down from my apartment at 7 a.m., and the bike was gone. When I finally filled out the report, the police told me the bike was probably already cut up for parts, that 5 percent of vintage bikes are ever recovered.
They ran the plate and pulled a photo of a male riding the bike over the FDR Bridge at 6:45 a.m. without a helmet. Someone who was definitely not me. I didn’t understand how any of this was possible. I had two locks on the bike, and the night before I had drained the oil so I could do an oil change the next day. The officer said he would send the case over to a detective, but since it was just a picture of the back of someone’s head, I shouldn’t get my hopes up.
I was gutted—angry at myself for not putting it in the parking garage sooner and defeated.
Two and a half weeks later, I got a call from a detective. He said, “I just picked up your file for the first time, and I know who did it.”
The kid had been pulled over on Staten Island for speeding and for not wearing a helmet. They just gave him a ticket and sent him on his way, but they had the plate and his address. The detective gathered some footage from my neighborhood. He’d approached the bike around 3 a.m., then came back later with a white box truck. The crazy part is he didn’t cut the bike up for parts. He kept it. They found it at his house and towed it to an impound lot.
I had to pay $600 in cash before they’d even let me see the bike. I’d brought my helmet and gloves, ready to ride. Maybe that was a little naive. He’d had a pretty high-speed crash. The clutch lever was completely gone, and the left side of the bike was all crunched in. My right exhaust pipe was gone for some reason, despite all of the damage being on the other side. I had to pay to have it towed to my shop.
My mechanic says it’s a brick, that it’s maybe worth $700 in the shape it’s in. The worst part is, I was ready to move on from this bike before it was stolen, ready to sell it and buy something else. I’m not sure I can fix it. Every time I see a new scuff, it would just bring up all these memories.