Here’s to you, clunker

A very sad thing happened yesterday. My beloved little bike was stolen from outside my apartment building.

Bike theft in Toronto is super common, and I knew that, which is why when I bought this clunker bike last year I only paid 60 dollars. This is a real piece of junk, I thought, nobody is going to bother to steal this. And for eight glorious months, I was right. Sometimes I would leave it overnight at bars, friend’s houses, etc, always locked, of course, but out in the open. I never had a problem and I didn’t care. I would often leave it wondering if it was the last time I’d ever see it. It wasn’t a nice ride or even that reliable of a bike, either. Just a couple weeks ago I was riding it during rush hour when the front brake literally just fell off. I was on the sidelines of one of the busiest downtown streets at the time. It’s hard to pedal, the gears are super rough, and it’s rusted and peeling and just all around in poor condition.

But something happened in the last 8 months that I didn’t expect… I fell in love with it.

Honestly. I adored its capacity for failure, its quirky gear shifting, its rust and its peeling paint. I loved that I could plow straight through pot holes and it would just keep chugging along with its bruises without batting an eyelash. I felt so much freedom because of it. I was flying past cars trapped in traffic jams, weaving my way in and out of construction areas, and best of all, I was liberated from shitty public transit. My bike and I, we ruled these downtown streets. And now, my beautifully imperfect clunker bike is gone. I’ve already been fantasizing about finding it for sale on craigslist and then pulling a stealthy “oh I’m really interested in this bike” to “THIS IS MY BIKE, YOU BASTARD”, flipping them the finger, and then riding it home triumphantly. But I don’t think it’s going to happen.

The worst part of all this is it’s totally my fault. I got cocky thinking nobody would take it so I started locking it up outside over night instead of in the bike locker of my building. I feel like I’ve let my bike down. Someone told me today that I should feel happy for whoever is now commuting on it because of how awesome it is and how much they must be enjoying it. And honestly, I think I can do that. I hope whoever stole it sells it to someone who was really hurting for transportation and needed a cute little rusty bike for cheap to brighten their day. I hope that the person who stole it uses the money for something like a birthday gift for their kid/grandma/dog and that the receiver of that gift is so stunned by the generosity which they were sadly not expecting from their no good bike-thief parent/grandkid/owner that they overwhelm them with tears and gratitude. And then the thief is so moved from the appreciation that they realize there is more to life than thievery, and are inspired to embark on a life of redemption and charity.. yeah.

God speed with your new life, dear beater bike. I’ll miss ya.

28 thoughts on “Here’s to you, clunker

  1. They have this device now that is the size of a US quarter and can be put on any possession, like a bike, that has an app you can download for free and will track your possession if lost or stolen. You might think about getting one of those for your next bike. I don’t remember the name but it’s been in the news so you can probably goggle key words and find it. Just a thought.

      1. I just talked to a friend in SF who did a presentation to one of those companies and he suggested looking on under tracking devices with a GPS

  2. XD at “8 glorious months.” I know the feeling. I’ve had about 4 stolen from me so far. The last one was funny because someone literally chopped the tree down to where my bike was chained just to get it.

  3. I felt the same way when my apartment was burglarized some years ago. The moment I walked up to the door, I knew someone had been inside; it was just a feeling that washed over me. I put the key in the lock and discovered it was broken. As I made my way inside and saw my laptop and TV missing (that’s all I own; I don’t even have furniture), my first thought was, “Well, can’t say I’m surprised.” My second thought was, “I hope whoever it was that did it really needed the money.”

    And I hope they were hungry. They also stole a box of Pop-Tarts.

    Anyway, I’m sorry to hear about your bike. I hope it’s like you said and someone just really needed it. Or maybe you were going to have an accident on it and taking it from you was the universe’s way of making sure that you don’t have that accident. I don’t know. I’m just trying to come up with a reason for this. Whatever the case, I wish you good fortune with your next bike. May it be just as crappy and worthy of your love. 🙂

    1. Ahhh how awful and invasive!! That is much worse. Seems you took it very well though and I guess that’s all we can do. People are going to steal. Sometimes from us, but hopefully most of the time not. Did you ever find out who did it?

      And yes I’m a big believer in the universe these days, so I’m on board and happy to think that it was meant to be. Thank you so so much for this comment 🙂 🙂

      1. My apartment was burglarized near the end of a month and a few people who were living adjacent to me moved out at the end of that same month. One of them said he heard what happened and was seriously apologetic. It could’ve been all of them or a couple of them. Or none of them. I really have no way of knowing, only a suspicion.

        But speaking to what you said about being confident that no one was going to steal your bike because of its state of disrepair, I was confident that no one would steal from me because I thought that the moment someone walked in the door, they’d feel pity for how little I had and end up leaving stuff for me instead.

        But I’m okay with it. I replaced my laptop and replaced my TV. The only thing that I couldn’t replace was trust. I actually carry my laptop with me everywhere I go now.

        And yeah, a most difficult thing is to find reason in what seems to be unreasonable, but it’s good to see that you can absolutely do that. 🙂

  4. I, too, have a stolen bike story, which I wrote last year — more amusing than upsetting. I hope I’m not imposing, but I’ve posted it below, for your enjoyment. ;- )


    I remember when, as a child, my bicycle was stolen right out of the garage. It was a decent racing-style bike, but it had one quirk: if you stood up to pedal, the pointy seat had a nasty habit of turning vertical, so sitting back down took a certain…finesse.

    I felt sick about this loss and started searching, but without much hope. The thief had a head start — and a bike! — while I had only my own two feet.

    A road stood in front of the house, and for no particular reason I headed off in the direction of the hill at one end of it. Imagine my delight when I found my bike at the top, flung off into the grass! The seat was pointing straight up.

    standing to pedal
    up the steep hill,
    the bike thief

  5. so sorry – theft is such an emotional assault. A couple years ago I rode one of my three bikes to a church meeting where I happened to start talking to a recovered addict. He saw my bike and said “Hey – I usta steal bikes. I must have stolen six hundred. The worst part was that the dealers would know you’re jonesing for a fix so you’d have to sell the bikes for about $20.00.

    He then asked me what mine cost. I thought for a second and said, “Enough”

    1. Oh that’s awful. I really hope my bike wasn’t stolen for a fix 😦 😦 Ugghh that would be the worst.. just to feed someone’s self destructive habit. Sigh. I’d rather just give the guy 20 dollars and keep my bike.

  6. So I just bought a bike. I end up using it for little bike rides and buying groceries. It baffles me that people can this easily get around a chained bike and that bikes are considered such a possession that people would work that hard to steal them. Now I’m worried for my baby.

      1. Yeah. I read somewhere that basically you cannot stop someone from stealing your bike. You can only frustrate them enough it’s not worth it. The one post said a U lock and chain. Currently I have a heavy duty “chain”.

      2. I bought another bike already for 20 bucks and I went to look at Ulocks and the good ones are 85 dollars plus!! That’s 4 times the amount I spent on my replacement bike. Ended up just buying a cheap one from Canadian tire cause I couldn’t justify spending 85 to lock up a 20 dollar bike…

      3. More beat up. It was sitting in a basement for 4 years and had cobwebs and rust galore. But I spruced it up and took it apart and put it back together so I’m loving it more and more. I have more things to do with it but it’s like my little project! I should do a post about it haha

      4. YES! Holy cow you obviously know a lot about bikes. That is awesome. I’m just like, “If this thing goes down, I’m screwed.” Definitely do a post on it.

      5. I don’t know that much actually. There’s just this great bike shop near me that is run by volunteers and you can bring your bike there and they will help you fix it. 🙂

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