Betty Diaries: Bike thieves suck

Kate Sonnick
Kate Sonnick

I was on my way to pick up a friend from the airport last Sunday. Heading down into the garage underneath my building, I had a strange sense that something was off. And that’s when I saw it.

In the parking spot next to my VW, which was normally occupied by my forest green Rad Power Radrunner 2 electric bike and my white vintage Orly folding bike, there was … nothing.

Both bikes, which I had locked together with a giant Abus U-lock were gone. Poof. Just like that.

I know, I know. I should’ve locked the bikes to a fixed object, not to each other. My only excuse is having a false sense of security in Park City, as if things like that don’t happen here. I mean, people don’t just walk into garages, pick up two bikes that are locked together, and haul them away. Until they do.

There had to be a way to catch the thief. I called the Park City Police Department to file a report. I texted my neighbor who has a Tesla with a video cam. I contacted my property manager to find out if there were cameras in the garage. I started checking and other online marketplaces to see if I could find the bikes listed there. I checked with neighbors who might’ve seen something. The PCPD said they’d even investigate cell phone records to see if they could track the thief that way. So far, no luck.

I consoled myself with the fact that my insurance would cover it. No go. Turns out e-bikes need their own kind of special insurance, which I had not been aware of in the only two months I tooled around Park City on my cute, little Radrunner 2.

Rad Power bikes are not cheap. And I’m just a lowly scribe, not a rich person. But it’s not so much about the money to me. Besides the e-bike, they stole my vintage French folding bike, a sentimental Craigslist find from a few years ago. I had bought it to replace another precious French folding bike that had been stolen from me in 2016.

I purchased that one, a 1970s Le Super “vélo pliant,” or folding bike, when my then-husband and I were living in Paris in 2011. It was bright, smiley-face yellow, with a yellow banana seat and chopper-style handlebars. You could literally fold it and store it away if you were so inclined. Not that I ever did. I was too busy riding that bike all over the city. Up and down the Seine. Through dimly lit passageways at night. To cafes and markets and the gym. I even rode it around Place de L’étoile at the Arc de Triomphe, one of the world’s most notoriously busy traffic circles.

My marriage was falling apart, but riding that bike brought a special kind of light to even the darkest corners. I was a free woman in Paris, to paraphrase Joni Mitchell. I felt unfettered and alive. Cruising the narrow streets felt daring. Darting around buses, pedestrians, crazy French drivers. You had to be deliberate, in the moment — always aware, always looking. Even then, you could never be sure. I once got doored by a drag queen while riding Le Super near the Moulin Rouge in Pigalle. Only in Paree.

When we moved back to the States, there was no way I was leaving without Le Super. C’est pas possible. I had the bike packed and shipped home, my most prized souvenir of my time in France.

After my marriage ended, I downsized and got rid of almost all of my stuff — furniture, carpets, dishes, even some family heirlooms. But not Le Super. I continued to ride it around the town where I was living at the time in upstate New York.

One day, I rode the bike over to my parents’ place. I locked it to a pole outside their apartment building. When I came back out, Le Super was gone. Just like that. I was heartbroken. I couldn’t imagine why anyone else would want the old beater bike that I paid about 150 euros for. That bike was valuable only to me.

I made a post about the theft on my Facebook page, and soon after that, started getting yellow-bike sightings from friends — and even friends of friends. One guy I knew called to say he’d been tailing a woman riding a yellow bike, thinking it might be mine. He sent me a screen shot. It wasn’t.

My sister texted me that she’d received a message from another friend who’d spotted a young girl riding a yellow bicycle in the direction a local high school. I messaged an acquaintance who was a teacher there. He went outside and took a pic of the bike. It wasn’t mine.

But I never lost hope. To this day, whenever I spy a yellow bike, my heart leaps a bit and I can’t help looking to see if it could possibly be Le Super.

Things don’t matter, we tell ourselves. In a disaster, you grab your loved ones and you get the hell out. Leave everything else behind. It’s just stuff. It can always be replaced.

Bike thieves suck. I make up stories in my head. Maybe you’re riding it around town, giving it a whole new life. Maybe you sold it for scrap. I tell myself, I hope you needed it more than I did.

I say karma’s a bitch. Some day, you’ll get yours. Maybe you already did. Whoever you are, I hope you’re happy with whatever you gained from taking something that wasn’t yours.

In my dreams, there is a smiley-face-yellow vélo pliant, looping endless circles around the Arc de Triomphe. And no one can take that away from me.


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