This story has been waiting to post for a week or two now, but after suffering the episode of bike loss earlier, this seemed like the right time to put it up. For the record this is one of the most awesome tales that I have read.
This story takes place in the Powderhorn Neighborhood in Minneapolis, and features Liesl who we met during Winter bike to Work Week in February.
Despite this record-breaking heat and humidity here in the Twin Cities, my partner Erin on her Quickbeam and I on my single-speed Proto-Bleriot elected to do our 20-mile round trip commute to work. The ride home was 98 degrees with a dew point at about 80 degrees…this put the heat index up somewhere like 100-115 degrees. Right balmy. Two blocks from home, as I’m looking forward to air conditioning and a cold one, all hell broke loose.
Up in front of me is a maroon Mercury Cougar, and I’m thinking, “When did I last see a Cougar?” As I’m gazing, the car slows down and a young man hops out to go to the convenience store. I wait to see if the Cougar is going to park, but no, it just keeps going. As we proceed down the road, a bicycle passes me, and then I hear yelling behind me. I turn back to see another young man running like the blazes shouting, “That guy stole my bike! Stop him! That guy stole my bike!” It’s the dude from the Cougar who had passed me on the bike!
So I stood up and bore down hard on my peddles in hot pursuit. He was riding on the sidewalk next to a big park and I was just behind him in the street. After about 3-4 blocks he started to fade—remember it was literally close to 100 degrees—and I caught up to him.
“You stole that bike!” I yelled fiercely. It was clear that he wasn’t aware that I had been on his heels. “You stole that bike! Just drop it and walk away,” I commanded. His grin faded ever so slightly.
“I see you,” I continued sternly (albeit between gulps of air). “I see your face, I see your clothes, I see the number on your jersey.” His grin dimmed. I looked at his bare arm. “I see your tattoo,” I said and looked him in the eye. “I see you. Drop the bike and walk
away.” He knew the tattoo meant I could ID him. He looked away, dropped the bike, and wobbled off, his legs spent.
A dude in the park had watched the whole thing and called out, “Whoa! You just caught that guy and made him give up the bike, man! You chased him down in this heat, and you made him drop the bike. You beat him and you’re twice his age, man!”
Erin rode up, having stopped to call 911, and the young man who owned the bike came up huffing and puffing and was ever thankful to have the bike back.
Most of the time, I count myself as one of the slower people out there on a commute filled with lycra-clad boys riding carbon racers. At 52, I’m all for bike lingering. But today, I busted it out at the end of a scalding hot ride and beat a kid who in all likelihood was not two but three times younger than me, and I caught up to him when it counted and got a stolen bike back.
Feels damn good.