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To My Bike Thief

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Congratulations! You’re the proud new owner of a 52-centimeter Trek 2.1 road bike.

It might be a little small for you. Maybe you’ll give it to your girlfriend. Maybe you’ll hike the seat up ride around on it yourself, basking in the adrenaline rush of that lightweight, sexy beast of a vehicle.

Here’s the problem, though: It’s mine. It’s been tuned to fit my body and I’ve broken in the handlebar tape. (I also spit on it, so wash it off real good, eh.) The handlebars are measured to my shoulder width. I’ve tweaked the seat to perfection for long rides.

And what you might not have guessed is that it’s my only way to get around.

It’s a nice bike, so you probably assumed I could afford to replace it. Maybe that I have a car sitting in the garage at home. I was going to a meeting when you watched me walk away from my bike, so I probably looked pretty put together. Maybe you read me as a spoiled chick with money to throw around.

Whatever you assumed about what I have and you don’t and what society owes you or whatever your rationale is, you’re wrong.

I bought that bike with money I had from selling my car. I sold my car because it needed more repair than I could afford. I won’t be able to replace that bike anytime soon, which means I’m stuck riding the bus and walking places. You might relate to how this makes me feel. I’m making some assumptions about you, too — that you don’t have a “real” job, a car or a bike of your own (as in, one that you didn’t rip off) — and you probably know how much being tight on cash and without transportation feels.

My bike was my passport to self-sufficiency and staying healthy — and an item I can’t possibly afford to replace. As such, I brought it inside every night instead of leaving it in the garage. I locked it up within eyesight whenever I could.

You might be wondering about the scratches along the frame. A car hit me while I was riding home last year. My body was screaming but I barely noticed; my shock-addled brain could only muster this: “Is my bike okay?”

As soon as I was healthy enough, I got back in the saddle and rode trembling down Sprague Avenue. Riding again became my gradual victory over fear — not just of being hit again, but of the many, many things that are terrifying about the very uncertain life of a young person without financial security. While you were busy stealing my bike, I was meeting with a group trying to make Spokane a safer place to bike. Oh, the sweet irony.

Without a bike, living without a car becomes much more difficult. Buses run late, run on awkward schedules and simply don’t go everywhere. Going to the grocery store is enormously frustrating. Some jobs just aren’t an option because you don’t have a way to get there.

You probably assumed I don’t have these problems — and I didn’t, until you stole my bike.

Suddenly, I’m more dependent on others and less employable — which sucks because I’ve pretty much tapped out all the favors I can ask of my friends and family in my last three years without a steady job or a car.

I’m trying to take this in stride. This isn’t my first rodeo and you’re not the first punk to run off with something that’s mine. I bet you’re not a terrible person — I’ve been down enough on luck to feel like the universe owes me break, too.

I imagine that’s how you feel — or at least how you’ve justified it — like the universe owed you some rich bitch’s fancy bike. You were wrong, and I’ll totally throw you a bone there. I don’t care about reporting you or kicking your ass or anything like that. Will you just return my bike, please?

The no-questions-asked drop-off spot is Merlyn’s Comics at 19 W. Main. It’s open every day from 10am – 9pm. I know you’re free on Mondays from 4-5:30, because that’s when you stole my bike, so maybe you could drop it off then. Or whenever. You can say you’re doing it for your friend, or that you just found it — I really don’t care. I just want my bike.

Here’s the info on my bike, in case anyone sees it riding around town: 2010 Trek 2.1 Compact WSD. 52 cm. Serial # WTU286G0605E. Dark green with white embellishment. Black handlebar tape — at least the last time I saw it. It went missing near Riverside & Howard in downtown Spokane.

Please email me at erikaprins(at)gmail.com if you have any information.

Update: Friends have started a fund to help Erika replace her bike, click here to learn more.

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