“This overdeveloped sense of justice you have is going to get you a fat lip someday but you will get easy entry into heaven.”

-a classic Dwight Hall quote.

Back in September and thanks to Seth Picket, I was able to achieve a rather unique cycling goal; recovering a stolen bike and returning it to its rightful owner (you can read that story here). This past Saturday, I managed to do it again. This second recovery was by accident and completely spur of the moment.

I was on a gravel ride, as was the style at the time, and doing my usual patchwork of urban canal roads, singletrack, and side streets as I returned home when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a 2015 Industry Gray Niner RLT 9, the aluminum predecessor to the carbon RLT 9 RDO I was currently riding. I had been passively looking for this particular bike since Ricky Newman listed it as stolen on NoCo Cycling back in February. The bike had been stolen by the lock being cut and taken from out front of Bistro Nautile last December.  It was Ricky’s only means of transportation and he was of course pretty bummed. Over the past several months, the bike had been spotted several times in Northern Fort Collins, mostly in the north College area. In late February, Dakota Troudt managed to photograph and follow the thief for a while but lost him when he hopped on the Poudre River Trail. Dakota was in his car and did his best to cut him off at the next intersection but the guy disappeared. Fort Collins Police were called but he was nowhere to be found. I was actually riding the trainer in my basement while texting with Ricky, Dakota and a friend in FtC PD as this was all playing out.

When I saw the bike on Saturday, I knew that that was Ricky’s bike instantly. I noted the XTR cranks and red grips from his photos. As I was riding by, the bike theif was walking into a shed that was attached to a trailer house and talking to someone inside. The bike was left in the driveway with the kickstand down and a small grocery bag hanging from the handlebar. I circled back again doing my best to not look suspicious which was admittedly impossible given the circumstances. I wasn’t initially sure how I was going to handle this, especially since I was already on the brink of being late for a date with my wife and some friends. Time was of the essence, my friends.  As much as I wanted to retrieve Ricky’s bike, I REALLY didn’t want to piss off the boss. I ruled out calling the cops, as I didn’t have time to wait around for them. I didn’t know how long this guy was going to stick around and I didn’t want to get into a slow speed chase with him ending up who-knows-where.  I also didn’t want to complicate things, and I knew it wasn’t this guy’s bike and I knew exactly who the bike belonged to. I called my friend Dan Fry since he lived nearby and owned a truck, thinking we could just nab the bike and throw it in the back of the truck and be gone. Unfortunately, he wasn’t picking up the phone when I dialed him. Some lame excuse about being in BC fishing or something. I decided the best plan was to put my cyclocross skills to practical use and just grab the bike and ride off on my bike while holding onto and steering Ricky’s bike by the stem. We frequently do this at cross races getting to and from the pits with your A and B bikes.

I again put my insurance fraud investigation skills to use; I identified a couple of exits, noted how long it took before I’d be out of sight and rode a final lap checking to see if any other people were milling around who might get up in my business. Everything looked good. The street was empty so I paused in front of the trailer house listening to the guys talking for a second. They were either at the back of the shed or in the backyard, completely out of view. I coasted up to the bike, removed the grocery bag, grabbed the bike by the stem in my left hand, turned, and bolted.  The kickstand was still down and making a hell of a racket as I rode away. I  attempted to lean the bike way over trying to get the stand to go up as I was dragging it along but no dice.  I’d have to stop and put it up later. I checked my shoulder to see if anyone was coming and didn’t see anyone. I had ridden this exact route dozens of times, except with only one bike, so I knew exactly where I was going.

In my Strava you can see how I enter from the North, circle around getting the lay of the land and end up exiting to the South via the bike path. I beelined it down to the bike path, through a park and onto some singletrack where I knew I’d be as good as gone. At this point, my heart rate was at 182 beats per minute, which is my average for a 60-minute cyclocross race. I paused, put the damn kickstand up, and headed down the singletrack towards the Shields bike lanes. My house was still a solid 5 miles away and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to ride all that way with two bikes. It was a little tricky and probably looked suspicious as hell. I knew Sara was getting ready to go out so I couldn’t call her. I started making a list in my head of all the people I knew between there and home, Zack and Whit, Fry, Tommy Taylor, Fat Mix… Ultimately, I was making pretty good time so I decided to go for it. The ride home was pretty uneventful. It was a 4.75-mile straight line from where I was until my first turn.  I was bombing along with a tailwind getting green lights when it happened…you know when your bike starts to bounce like something is in the tire and you feel sealant spraying your legs and you hear that hissing sound and you try to convince yourself that you really don’t have a piece of shrapnel in your tire? Yeah, that feeling. Well, that happened. Something big was stuck in my tire. Luckily, I had just topped up my Orange Seal and after whatever it was went flying, the Orange Seal did its job with minimal air loss. After a quick albeit awkward stop to make sure nothing else was hanging out of the tire I was back in business and on my way. I actually managed to hit 24.5mph just past Drake on Shields.

I messaged Ricky a little after 6:00 pm on Saturday, dove through the shower and headed out with the wife and friends.
The adventure made for great dinner conversation but it didn’t help their impression of me being a bit nuts. I was a little surprised I didn’t hear back from Ricky for about three hours but it turns out he was busy working with his phone on silent. We exchanged a few texts that night, a phone call on Sunday, and then Tom Carter and I dropped his bike off to him on Monday. Ricky was still saving to replace the Niner so he was happy to be able to use those saved funds on other things.

I gotta tell ya, I’m ecstatic that I was able to return Ricky’s bike to him but I do wish I would have had enough time to call the police so they could have caught the guy red-handed. I’m bummed that he A) won’t get any punishment for stealing Ricky’s bike and B) he’s probably just going to steal someone else’s bike to replace the Niner.

And I of course don’t recommend doing this to anyone. The proper way to handle this would have been to call the Fort Collins Police, maybe keep an eye on the guy/bike from a distance, take lots of photos and let the officers do their jobs.

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