Our Bicycle Friendly Community, as published in Tahoe Mountain News:
By Victoria Ortiz
Our friendly bicycle community has a louse amongst us. Fortunately, this den of fragrant pines and recycled ice water also breeds heroes, and thus an everyday Knight’s Tale was conceived.
The scoundrel, unnamed, unknown, armed with cable cutters and a subdued ethos, found his prey on a sunny July Sunday. Her name was Mindy, a mint green road bike recently introduced to its mountainous palace from the Bay Area via Craigslist and a Thule rack.
A red helmet perched on her hammerhead handlebars when I locked her to a dulled bike rack near the Y.
She and I had become fast friends the last couple months. Equipped with a stick of deodorant, we charged the shortcuts of South Lake to work and grocery outlet, up Ebbett’s Pass, and shared regular sunsets at Lakeview Commons.
I researched and scanned the Internet for the perfect touring/commuting bike for six months like an eager online dater. She was the first bike on which I spent more than eighty bucks and she was destined for great adventures.
All of those details cycled through my mind as I stared at the discarded helmet, no trace of cable or Mindy in the empty parking lot. She was gone like the sun-drunk spill of a Nalgene in the Mojave Desert.
But, dear neighbors, I am a fighter and an optimist, and that evening I filed a police report, sent out a mass Mint-Alert email, created flyers for the lost bike, and even posted to my sparse Facebook page.
Bike thieves belong in Dante’s sixth level of Hell, and the following morning I felt the sour surge of distrust flowing through my eyes at every biking passerby. Then, the phone call.
“I’ve got your bike!” said the ecstatic, slightly out of breath voice. “I’ll drop it by your office now.”
At 10:30am, less than 24 hours after her bike napping, Mindy was safely leaning on my desk, completely intact minus the bike lights. The hero, my now-boyfriend, saw Mindy lying at the feet of a teenage boy standing outside the Verizon store on Highway 50. He pulled in and parked.
“Look kid, I’m not calling the cops, but I’m taking that bike,” (I picture a flourish of a Superman cape here).
“Aw, I just bought it,” the kid protested weakly.
Lies or truth I know nor care, but you can bet that I bought a Kryptonite U-lock a few days later.
Mindy remains my faithful steed, leaving my car to collect pine needles. This story could have ended differently in a big city, but in our bicycle friendly community, happy endings do come true.