Someone stole my bike. I know, this happens frequently in Newton and I blame myself. I was lazy and didn’t lock the bike in the shed. I thought I’d get to it “later,” but then life happened and the bike sat in the backyard for a day. I’ve done that often and never had an issue.
The truth is, who would want my bike? It’s not exactly a great ride. This is a bike my son liked to call “an abomination against steel and aluminum.” The joke was on him, it had very little aluminum.
No, this was a 1971 Raleigh 3-speed with rusting fenders. After my last ride it was covered in road salt, the front brakes shook when applied and, in general, it never really stopped well in the rain. I heard something rubbing and needed to look into that. In fact, the steel wheels had quite a bit of surface rust (I kept thinking that I’d take a wheel building class and install new aluminum rims), the decals were peeling, the paint pitted and it would never really shine anyway.
Still, it was mine. I put it together after finding it at a yard sale on Watertown Street and paying my $20. “It needs new tires,” the seller told me. I told him it was fine, and giggled as I loaded it onto my car, knowing I got a steal. I originally intended it for my wife, but after riding it for a season she decided she needed something more, um, modern.
Over the years I modified it quite a bit, finding a huge front basket on Craigslist (the biggest one Wald makes), adding to it a bronze-painted PVC pipe secured with zip ties to aim my lights at the road. That pipe also acted as a great mount for my GoPro. I found an old Soviet-era military engineers bag that my wife and I altered so I could attach it to the basket and use it to hold my lock. On top, I had a cargo net but changed out the plastic hooks for carabiners, which made it much more secure and useful. This was how I’d go to Russo’s or Trader Joe’s and bring home food for 5 for the week.
I swapped out the shifter to match the one I had on my 1978 Schwinn Stingray, not because it was “period,” but because I liked seeing it near my thumb. I installed leather grips (not my best idea, as they didn’t wear well in New England weather) and found an old ripped Brooks saddle when an antique store in Cambridge was going out of business. It gave the bike an old, shoddy look I was told by one bike mechanic that it came from the 1930s. I bought a bunch of seat posts at bike swap to get the height just right. I put on a new stem and handlebars to give it a wider sweep.
Just recently, Greg joked to Mayor Fuller that my bike wasn’t exactly a “theft magnet.” And now it’s gone, to a thief. I know the thief thinks they got something for nothing, but they can’t really sell it. I mean, the basket was starting to oxidize, the grips needed replacing, the saddle was falling apart (I desperately needed a new one), the paint was fading, and the carabiners could be bought new for $1 a piece. Even the lights were older versions that aren’t worth anything on the used market.
The police tell me that it’s probably someone who needed a ride, and now they have one. I have other bikes, nicer bikes, but this was my labor of love. If you see it around, I’d like it back.