Sunday, August 14, 2005

A sad tale

When people ask me how I like living in Philadelphia, I generally say that I love it here. And it's true: this is the first time I've felt like I'm really living in a big city (Duluth & New Haven certainly don't count, and while St. Louis is comparable in terms of size it has more of a Midwest smalltown feel) and it's fun to have such easy access to all the great restaurants, bars, cultural opportunities, diversity, etc. that a cosmopolitan city has. However, there is one big drawback to all of these advantages, and that is BIKE THEFTS.

It's basically been a contest between myself (& my fiance' Claire) and the bicycle thieves in which bicycle lock technology and bicyle lock removal technology have been embattled in an ever-escalating war. Allow me to reconstruct the situation as it developed:

August 2004: my bicycle of 7 years--which I had at one point bought from my medical school classmate for a mere $30 and had thought nobody would bother stealing--was stolen from the rack outside the front of my house. It had a Kryptonite-knock-off U-lock. Unfortunately, the theft occurred a few weeks after the Kryptonite penjacking scandal. C'est la vie. I therefore bought a cheap $58 bike from Magna.

May 2005: The crappy Magna lasted me through the winter. It was secured with an old-school Huffy U-Lock which I'm pretty sure is immune to the Kryptonite penjacking technique. Unfortunately the thieves were able to remove my rear bike wheel. It's not a quick release, so presumably they had some tools with them to remove the wheel.

June 2005: I was fortunately able to forage an old rear bike wheel from an even bigger piece-of-crap bike I had bought for $40 off of Craig's List. Having learned my lesson, I was now double-locking with the U-Lock for the frame and a cable lock for the rear wheel. However the cable lock was easy pickings for the thieves and they made off with the rear wheel once more.

July 2005: At this point I started using my old Trek 400 racing bike--a bike my parents had bought me when I was 16 and had served me through several bike ride throughout Duluth, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and even a couple of triathalons in my younger days. Despite being secured with a U-Lock, the thieves were able to somehow saw through the U-Lock and take the bike!

August 2005: I bought a marginally better bike from Target again, this time a $100 Mongoose mountain bike--still kind of a piece of crap but it gets the job done. At this point, all of the thefts had occurred at night--so I was in the habit of always taking my bike in when it started to get dark. On one particularly evening, I went downstairs at about 9PM--not too long after sundown--and the rear wheel of the bike was gone.

Now I'm in the position where I have to decide to spend like $65 for a new wheel (which is over half the cost of the entire bike) or just buy a totally new cheapo bike. I'm leaning towards the latter at this point.

This is not to mention the fact Claire has had 2 bikes stolen as well.

A plague upon bike thieves everywhere! May they be flogged by bike chains and be forced to sit on a painful banana seat for all of eternity!


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