Wednesday of last week I arrived to work on my bike as I do most mornings, the only difference was that my lock wasn’t in its rack, as usual. I considered bringing it inside, but I thought that Overland St. would be safe enough for my old bike and I left it outside, unlocked.
Around 4:00 p.m. I was peeling a tangerine in the kitchen looking towards the alley when I noticed that my bike was no longer on the bike rack. I couldn’t believe it! I even begin asking myself if I had, in fact, ridden to work that day (I verified I had because my helmet was at my desk), so I searched for my bike all over the office, thinking somebody had moved it and hoping that the whole thing was a joke from a coworker. Sadly my beautiful bike had effectively disappeared.
But let me tell you, this is not an ordinary bike we’re talking about. Her name is Yuriko; she’s a pre-war Japanese bike that was shipped unassembled from Japan to the United States and then reassembled by hand here—a true collectors’ item. On her frame, she still has her Japanese license plate and the name and address of her original owner, Yuriko, whom she’s named after. She has an awesome basket, where I carry my day’s lunch and running shoes, and a sticker that says, “Balcony. The touring machine that carries you ahead of time”—basically, the coolest urban commuter bike of her time.
Thursday morning I woke up and got ready for work. Only then I remembered that Yuriko was missing and sadly drove the three miles that separate my home from work. When I moved to San Antonio and I was looking for house to rent, I drew a three-mile radius with Overland’s office at its center to mark the boundary for the house search. I decided that no more than three miles was the appropriate distance for a daily bike commute.
I love my bike commuting; it takes me only fifteen minutes to get to work but that little extra exercise makes me feel extra happy. In the mornings, a bike ride awakens me, pumping some blood to my brain to help me think more clearly. In the afternoon after work, it gives me the extra energy to enjoy the rest of my day.
Biking makes a world of difference to me, literally: biking results in cleaner air for everyone, less congested roads, and friendlier neighborhoods. Additionally, multiple studies have shown the personal benefits of biking to work. In the long term, those who bike to work lowered their risk of death by 40 percent compared to sedentary people. In the short term, other studies found the average person will lose thirteen pounds in their first year of riding, lower their risk of cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, and strokes.
But going back to the stole back story, on Friday morning my awesome roommate, friend, coworker, and avid biker, Lauren, arrived to my desk super excited and drenched in sweat and told me that my bike was outside. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Yuriko.
This is where Lauren and Yurikos’s story starts. Lauren was on her way to work when she saw a strange man riding my bike and decided to chase down the potential thief down the street—on her bike—until she caught up with him:
“Hey, where did you get that bike?”
“I got it from a homeless guy leaving the Pig Stand for 40 bucks.”
“I think you’ve got a stolen bike. That’s my friend’s bike”
So brave Lauren offered Ruben some money and convinced him to return my bike. Lauren led him all the way to our office, fearing at every corner that he would escape.
But he didn’t escape. Lauren and Donald bought back my bike. Ruben returned the bike and made some money out of it. I offered Lauren and Donald lunch this week. Yuriko is back. Everybody is happy.
Thanks, Lauren! You’re the best!