Why We Have Two New Bikes: A Theft & an Accident in 24 hours
I hate prefaces but I feel like the backstory is important.
I remember a hike I did with Miska when we first moved back to Pittsburgh. He was about 2 years old and we were hiking the local park pretty consistently. We would see other hikers, dogs, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Then one day, we saw a biker with a dog.
I stood dead still on the trail with my jaw dropped as I watched this dog run right alongside his human. The human smiled and said thanks and they went on their way past us like it was no big deal.
That moment was a game changer for both me and Miska. We both wanted to try it, but I was way too scared. How the hell was I going to ride a bike on a trail?! There were steep hills and huge rocks and roots and lots of chances to be embarassed or in pain.
So the dream stayed a dream until 2018 when I finally met someone who liked mountain biking.
Miska went with him once and that’s when they fell in love.
I’m not joking. This was me and Jake's third date, but Miska and Jake's first, and immediately after they rode together, Miska jumped in Jake’s car and looked me in the eye as if to say, “I’ve chosen. We’ll take this one.”
So I decided I would have to also face my fears and mountain bike, because my FOMO is unreal and I have no shame in being the third wheel.
Jake had a fancy bike with front suspension (that makes it easier to go over rocks and roots) and really nice brakes (don’t ask me what kind), but I was content buying a rusty, used bike off craiglist. It barely shifted.
I’m not gonna put it lightly here. Starting mountain biking sucked. But in a good way if that makes sense.
My first trail in the fall of last year. I was off the bike and walking every 10 feet, but I laughed the whole way. Miska got annoyed that I wasn’t going fast enough. But we were hooked.
Once spring came, I tried some more trails and started getting a little better. As in, I was only stopping to walk maybe every 30 feet lol.
Then we started biking across the country during our road trip.
In Idaho, I got pissed. We were in the desert on some gorgeous trails, but I was struggling. My child sized bike wouldn’t shift well, and when it did, you could hear it clunk from a mile away. Or I would hit a rock so hard that my hand would slip and shift accidentally and the skinny tires would slide out.
Jake could tell I was frustrated so he (semi-reluctantly) offered to let me try his bike on the way back.
I took it for half a mile, stopped, and turned and looked him dead in the eye.
“Are you kidding me.”
No wonder he loved mountain biking! It was easy as hell when you actually had a nice bike! It was like …. Like riding a goddamn magic carpet compared to my junker.
Thus began weeks of me asking - no, begging - the universe for a reason to get a new bike. I suddenly got excited to wreck - was it useless yet?? I would intentionally leave the bike out in the open, unlocked - maybe someone would steal it.
But nothing. The whole way through Montana, Idaho, Washington, and northern Oregon - that little red spitfire held up. I was a little worse for wear, but was still somehow getting a little better with practice.
After our time in Mt. Hood, we made our way toward the coast, stopping in Corvallis. We needed a hotel break.
Before we went to bed, we headed back out to walk Miska around the parking lot around 11. We glanced at the Griz (our Nissan Xterra) to make sure everything was good. After finally getting back inside and into bed, I realized I had forgotten something in the Griz. It was 11:45 when I went back out.
As I approached the car, I wasn’t really paying attention, but I noticed that something was off.
Oh, Jake must have taken his bike inside when I was showering. I reach for the door handle.
I rush to the bike rack - my bike was still there, and the bike lock was still there. But the lock had been cut, and Jake’s bike was gone.
I was in disbelief. We had made it nearly two months completely free of any incidents. I could hear what Jake had told me just that day: “That bike is my baby. I love that thing.”
And now, I had to tell him it was gone. I looked around panicking - it hadn’t been long at all since we were outside last. Maybe the people who took it were close. That made me even more scared since I was outside alone in the dark without any kind of defense.
I walked back into the hotel, at first slowly and stunned, but moving my faster as the reality sunk in.
The elevator took forever. I rushed to the door, slammed in the key, and burst into the room.
“Jake. Your bike’s gone.”
We spent the next day searching the town and filing a report, but apparently bike theft was common in the area and it was unlikely they’d find it. After some searching of our own and even a stop in the local bike store, we gave up for the time being. Luckily, Jake found someone selling a bike similar to what he had (but no, not his bike), so he headed up to check it out and maybe buy it.
A few hours later, the hotel room door opened and Jake pushed a fairly new bike into the room with a funny look on his face.
“You bought it!! It looks great!”
“Yeahhhh,” he said hesitantly. “But now we gotta go buy you a new bike.”
I laughed. “No, you only bought this because yours was stolen, we shouldnt just buy two new bikes. Mine still works.”
“So about that…”
Turns out, when he got to the seller’s house, he had to parallel park. He didn’t see the tree, but my bike sure did.
When I asked the universe to “take care of it” with my bike, I had no idea that it would use Jacob to carry out the act.
So after a lot of laughing and shaking our head, we drove downtown and decided to check out a few local bike stores.
After walking around, we ended up back at one called Bike N Hike - I had spent an hour there the day before just chatting with a guy there about bikes and what happened, and they had a bike I really liked, for a lot less than the ones I had been looking at before.
After a few test runs, I ended up going with this baby. Front suspension, hydraulic disc brakes, and all black with red and green accents. I like the green but hopefully I can cover the red up.
So here we are. Thankful that of all the things that could have gone wrong this summer, one stolen bike and one broken bike were the worst of it.
I feel horrible for Jake losing his bike, but I’m definitely not mad he backed my old one into a tree. We donated it to a shop that helps the Corvallis community with bike repairs before we left, so now it’s off doing good for others.
As for me, I cruise on the trails now.
Well. The downhills. And as long as they’re not too steep. Or too rocky. And I definitely don’t cruise on the uphills, but hey. At least I’m not walking them anymore.
And Miska has no idea what happened or what's going on - but we ride way more often now, and that's really all he cares to know.
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Want to read more about our wild cross country road trip?
Want to watch a video of us summiting our first mountain in the Pacific Northwest?