A swift return

I gots me bike back!!

I went to the police station this afternoon, and was hoping to speak with someone who knew the details of how my bike was recovered, so I could find out a bit more, and maybe see if I could get my thanks to the guy who pursued the thieves. Unfortunately, I only got a rather rushed-off-her-feet desk lady who didn’t know the details, so I had to make do with merely getting my bike back.  Can’t complain, really.  🙂

The policeman who phoned me last night gave a few details about what happened over the phone.  Apparently, someone saw the thieves using a bolt cutter on my lock, and chased after them.  The thieves ditched the bike, which was then taken home by the same member of the public, who phoned the police to have them collect it.  The policeman warned me that the rear tyre was deflated.

Without knowing any more than that, the only additional information is in the damage caused to my bike, but I’m not entirely sure if all the damage was caused by the thieves…

The punctured rear tyre
I’ve heard stories of thieves deliberately disabling a bike by slashing the tyres, in order to buy time to allow them to get tools and come back.  I can’t see any holes in the tyre, but I can see at least two holes in the inner tube.  One is a 5mm rough hole, and the other is a clean slash, about 2cm long.  The slash is on the rim side of the tube, and the small hole is a bit further down the tube, more on the side.  I guess they could’ve punctured it with a small knife or something, and the slash was caused by either the end of the knife, or the rim as they tried to wheel it away.  Or maybe the puncture fairy was watching over my bike for me.  🙂

If it had a flat when they stole it, it’s no wonder they ditched the bike to make a faster getaway!

Damage to the RH side of the bike
There’s quite a lot of damage to the right-hand side of the bike..  The pedal has a massive gouge taken out of it, the crank has a couple of big scratches on it, the front mech is in contact with the chain, and the rear mech is all scratched up along the bottom.  I would assume this was all caused by them ditching the bike, and it clattering over onto the right-hand side.  I hope they didn’t bend anything!

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The adjusted saddle
The saddle was adjusted to as low as it’ll go with the rear light clamp still attached, which wasn’t all that much lower than usual.  It was adjusted correctly, so that when I’m cycling, my leg is straight when the pedal is at it’s lowest point. That means that you can’t just jump onto the bike – you have to get onto the pedal first, give a push, and then hoist your leg over.  Doing it any other way usually ends up in entangulated legs, and the bike falling over.  I like to think that one of the thieves tried to get onto the bike while running, which would’ve been quite painful, and may have been the cause for it being ditched.  It’s kind’ve a shame that I’d replaced the pedals, coz my old ones would’ve taken his leg off!  🙂

The dirt on the handlebars
There was dirt embedded in the handlebar grips, and in the brake levers.  More on the right than the left, but it was on both.  It may have been caused by the ditching, or maybe the Samaritan stored my bike on its ‘back’, in an earthy area.  There’s no actual damage to the handlebars that I can see.

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The over-inflated front tyre, and the upside-down front light
When I first bought my tyres, I pumped them up to their max PSI, for max speed, but the bike was horrible to ride.  The roads of Manchester are so badly maintained that they’re actually rougher than most trails, so I run the tyres at a comfortable 35 PSI in order to stop my teeth falling out.

My front light is a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster, held onto the stem by two different light clamps slotted into each other.  Due to the angle of the stem, the light points up in the air if it’s on top, so it’s underslung.  I haven’t ridden it in the dark since I attached it, so I’m not sure if it works very well.

After recovering my bike, my front tyre is so full of air that I can’t get the tyre to compress with my hand, and my light is now pointing to the heavens!  I guess either the police or the good Samaritan were trying to fix perceived damage.  It does pose the possibility that the rear puncture was actually caused after the theft, when someone tried to over-inflate the tyre.


So, all in all, I don’t really know much more, other than that it fell on its right-hand side when they let go of it, and someone tried to fix the bike afterwards. The tyre issue is weird, and I’ll never really know what happened there.

It’s a shame that i might never get to thank the person who chased off the thieves, but I hope he gets good karma from it, or something.  I can’t imagine ever giving chase to two people who’re obviously armed with at least one chunky length of heavy steel, and I’m not sure I’d want anyone to do it for me, either.  It’s nice that I got my bike back, but this could easily have ended with the guy being sent to hospital, or worse.

What’s to be learned?
The most important thing I’ve learned is that my old lock was shit.  I was convinced that a cable lock was better than a d-lock, because most people use d-locks, and the crims can’t carry tools for everything, so they probably only carry tools for breaking d-locks, right?.  That may or may not be true (probably untrue – they’d carry the easiest to conceal tool, and then look out for compatible bike locks), but I’d failed to spot an obvious flaw in the lock that I was using – it was a thick Kryptonite cable, taken from my d-lock, but it was held together with a padlock.  The padlock was a decent brand, but it wasn’t designed to be bolt cutter proof.  In retrospect, it was rather ridiculous.

I’ve now brought the old d-lock out of retirement.  By god it’s heavy, and it doesn’t fit anywhere on my frame, but I’d rather carry that around than risk losing my bike again.

Another thing I’ve learned is that I’ve made my bike stand out maybe a little bit too much, as I don’t think anyone would’ve given it a second glance when it was all standard and knackered-looking.  I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.. like I said in the previous post; I’m glad it’s not just a run-of-the-mill standard bike, so I’m not downgrading my bike just to deter a few thieves!

I’ve learned that I need to make a note of the frame number, and possibly get the bike post coded, if they still do that.  Now that I have a home of my own, there’s no good reason not to.

Finally, I’ve learned that it’s always worth reporting thefts to the Police.  I already knew it was worth doing, but it’s nice to have a bit more validation.  Once, I even reported lost car keys, which it turned out had already been handed in to them by the person that found them.  Those are the only things I’ve ever had recovered, though..  I’m still down by two bikes and a digital camera.  😛

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Have you seen this bike?

UPDATE: The police recovered my bike! Will add more details when I know them. Woooooo!!

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Yesterday, I was riding home on my Specialized, and looking at the bazillion other Specialized bikes that were going in every direction.  They’re really quite popular these days, aren’t they?  It made me proud, though.  They were all on practically identical bikes, but I’d made mine ‘mine’.  Since my last post, I’d upgraded the pedals to proper big platform pedals.  Big red platform pedals!  I’d also removed the stickers from the suspension fork, and put some colour co-ordinated stickers on.  It doesn’t sound like much, but they transformed the bike.  It was really rocking the red & silver look!

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I pondered what other possessions I have that are so close to my heart, and I couldn’t think of anything.  My son, my wife, but no possessions – they can all be replaced, but not the bike – I’ve owned it for 9 years, from new.  I’ve had loads of fun on the bike.  I’ve pootled over Dorset with my best mate, I’ve had some me time in the New Forest, I took it with me to Germany for a weekend, and now it’s personalised.  Even the weird clunking noise whenever I turn slightly to the right is ace, because I did that.  🙂

I was aware that the red pedals would attract attention, and I was hoping the rain would come back and give me some mud to plaster over them, and also let me have even more fun on my bike (I love cycling in the rain!).  Unfortunately, fate was having none of it.  There was no rain, and today there is no bike.

expletives.

I suppose it’s ironic or something.  I had to go to the Post Office to post a load of ebay stuff; some old PSP games, and some unused bike bits. The sale was to counterbalance the amount I’d spent on buying new bits for the bike.  I’d sold £60, which just about balanced it out.

I locked the bike up on Spring Gardens, just off the precinct that’s outside the Arndale center.  There’s 4 racks, next to some Natwest cashpoints.  There was a lot of people queuing for the cash points, and there appeared to be some CCTV watching the racks, so I thought it should be safe.  I went into the Post Office at 13:05, and came out at 14:10 (I hate doing ebay stuff.  My lunchbreak’s only supposed to be 30 minutes!).

Due to the length of time, I was already nervous, and I could just about see the bike rack in the distance.  The bike in my position didn’t look like it had red-walled tyres.  Oh crap..

Maybe I’m not looking properly.. get closer.. that’s not my bike..  where’s my bike?  WHERE’S MY F**KING BIKE????  Not even a broken lock’s here?  No sign of it ever existing? How can they steal a locked bike in front of a queue of people, under CCTV?  Did I forget to lock it?  No, I remember having to yank the bike to get the cable to reach around the rack pole.  Did they move it?  Are they still around?

I then did a sort-of spiral around the Arndale, looking at each bike rack, and every cyclist I could see.  Still no bike.  I went back to the rack, and into Natwest, to ask if their CCTV covered the racks.  Even though it seemed to be looking more at the bikes than the cashpoints, she didn’t think it did.  I got the impression that they purposely aimed it just slightly away from the rack so that they didn’t get hassle from the Police every time a bike was stolen.  hmmmm…

I then made my way back to work, in a very zig-zaggy way, looking at even more racks, and trying to remember where the Police station was.  I should’ve remembered – it’s just around the corner from work!  So I got the incident number, and quite a nice desk sergeant.  I expected him to treat the theft as ‘just another bike gone‘, but he seemed genuinely concerned!  Probably just a good actor.

I still have the other bikes, so I’m not out of the running yet, but the others are road bikes, which means returning to the A6.. I want to go off-road!

The bikes

I suppose I should set aside a post to share some info on the bikes that I’m abusing..

First up is my current steed; a Specialized Hardrock XC.

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Suffering from new shoe syndrome! Hope they don’t stay pink.

I bought it new back in 2004, and it’s served me well over the years, despite my neglect.  Back down south, it was only really used for jaunts into the New Forest and around Dorset.  I never really took to cycle commuting, as I lived in Southampton, but worked 25 miles away, in Salisbury.  Too far for my liking, and taking bikes on trains was too hit and miss.

Up north, my commute is way more manageable, so it’s been getting much more use!  It felt a bit slow at times, so I bought the other two bikes to improve my commute times, and I intended to sell the Hardrock.  I didn’t really want to, though.. I bought it new!  It was mine!  Plus I might get the opportunity to go off-road again, someday..  maybe when my son is 6 or something..  So, when I realised that the racers weren’t too well suited to icy roads and snow, I had a good excuse to keep it!  Not just keep it.. I changed it to a singlespeed, as I’d found I really liked the feel of riding with just one gear.  It’s slower, but it’s more fun!

Next on the list is my Carlton Cobra.
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Swanky.  🙂

I bought this in September this year, with the intention of modernizing the components, and then using it as a daily commute bike instead of the MTB.  The frame was entirely chrome, but it had seen better days, so I decided to get it powder coated.  That required taking all the bits off, and as I researched how to get bits off, and how to upgrade said bits, I started coming across talk of singlespeed bikes.

I’d heard of singlespeed before, and pretty much ignored it as the domain of people with more sunglasses than braincells.  But from what I was reading, normal people were using them too.  People were being converted, saying it’s something that has to be experienced.  I wanted to know what they meant!

And so, the plan changed, and I made it a singlespeed instead.  I managed quite a few commutes before the front wheel started making an awful noise (cheap wheels – bad idea!), and the singlespeeders were definitely onto something!

It’s off the road at the moment due to the aforementioned front wheel.  I should probably take it to the bike shop to get them to fix it, but then again, I could always try and do it myself……

Next up is the unknown Carlton.

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Does the fork look bent in this photo?  :s

I’d bought a lot of components before the Cobra plan changed, and I still wanted to see how fast a geared road bike would go.  That seemed like a good enough excuse for buying another bike.  🙂

And so, I ended up with a Carlton with no name.  The only things I know about it are that it’s a 1974 Carlton, built in Worksop, with 531 tubes.  I’ve searched all over the place to find a frame that exactly matches it, but I’ve never found one.  There are many 531 Carltons of that era, but every one I’ve seen has a bridge for the rear centrepull brake cable.  Mine doesn’t.  It’s possible that it was a custom build, and it never had a name.  It’s kind’ve a shame, really.  Bikes should have names!

The bike is pretty much built, but I need to take it to a bike shop to get the seat tube measured.  In theory, it’s either 27mm or 27.2mm, as it’s 531 tubing, but I tried a 27.2mm post in it, and it looked like it was 4mm too large. That’s worrying, as the previous owner had cracked the tube slightly from tightening it too much, and I suspect he did it using a powertool.  What if he managed to bend the tube into an oval?  :s

So those are my bikes.  If I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have bought bikes that were practically just frames.  Components are expensive, and I could’ve bought brand new bikes for the amount I spent!  They wouldn’t be as swanky, though.. if there’s one thing I hate about new bikes, it’s all the logos and silly technology that they’re splattered with.  And oval tubes.  And no lugs.  And deep V rims.

Money well spent, then!