I don’t even know how to start this story, so I’ll just do it news-style and stick to the facts to get started.
Last week, August 18, 2012, I was on my way to the Lewisburg Triathlon. I was traveling with my wife Meghan. She was planning to ride the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail while I competed, so we had our two bikes on my rack on the back of the car. We had them both when we left Wal-Mart Shamokin Dam at 7am. When we arrived at Lewisburg, mine was gone. We drove back to Shamokin Dam and retraced the route twice. My bike was gone. I checked with local police. No reports of a bike in the road. I checked with businesses along the way. No one saw anything.
It’s a sinking feeling when you don’t know what happened. If I saw it fly off the car and get run over by an 18 wheeler, I could wrap my head around it. Missing is odd. We had a car stolen once. It took us a solid half hour to realize that, since we kept going between two places where we might have parked it.
I did not cope with this very well. I had invested some money in that bike, spending more than I thought I would at the outset, then upgrading a saddle, aero bars and wheels. I could not see how replacing the bike was an option right now. I decided I was probably out of triathlon, sticking to running and swimming. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I really let it bother me. I had some inner frustration welling up for some time, and this was the spark that lit an emotional explosion.
When I got home, I posted what happened on Beginner Triathlete. That’s my online community. I’ve been involved with a few over the years, but none has meant as much to me as this one has.
I posted my story in this thread. It became one of the most epic threads of the year. If you go and read it, please don’t add commmentary there, as I don’t want it to keep coming back to the front page of the site. You can leave new comments here if you’d like. I will be posting an update thread over there shortly.
If you don’t want to read the whole thing, here’s the cliffs notes version: the BT community won’t let me quit over this. Within two hours, there were offers of bike parts, and a couple of whole bikes. The first PM in my inbox came from Fred D. He happened to be in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, for an Ironman. He had a 56cm frame road bike that was in the basement, and not getting any use since he upgraded to tri bikes. It was mine if I wanted it. I forgot what size frame my old bike was, so I did a quick online calculator with my height and leg length. 56cm was exactly the recommended frame size. And another poster from Ohio offered yet another 56cm bike. Another sent a PM with an offer to send me a 56cm tri bike frame. Kcarroll offered up a set of Mavic wheels. Powerman sent me a box with two sets of aerobars and spare mountain bike pedals.
Tuesday the 21st, we took the kids to Knoebels Grove for the last day of summer before school started. (Phineas and Ferb lied to us, there are not 104 days of summer vacation.) We left mid-afternoon to head across route 80 to State College. There, we found the house of Fred and his lovely family. And in the driveway, waiting for me, was a Trek bike.
What can I say? All I can do is pay it forward. When the time comes that I buy a new bike, this one will be put up on the BT classifieds “pay it forward” thread and given to a newbie. All I was able to do so far was give away a XXL fuel belt that I don’t use, now that I went to a camelback. I’m glad to pass it along to a new runner who is over 300 pounds. Next season I hope to give away a XXXL wetsuit as well.
More than the material, I need to pay it forward by continuing to encourage other people to take charge of their health, even if they think it’s too late. That’s why this blog exists. That’s why I wear the doughboy gear while racing.
But ultimately, I need to pay this forward to the people who matter the most: my family. I need to keep training. I can’t possibly let this bike sit in my office. I must ride it.
As for the details of the bike, like I mentioned, I had many offers for parts from BT folks. I had no idea what I was getting other than the frame, and I have popped two spokes on the stock wheels from my Raleigh. I had no idea if I would need a wheel upgrade. (I still have the front wheel and tire from the raleigh, as they were not on the bike at the time of the disappearance.) I had only upgraded wheels for strength, so I wasn’t sure. I know Fred’s a light, fast, racer.
Well let me tell you, this bike is no flea market hand-me-down. It came with look pedals, 105 shifters, racing tires and bontrager wheels. They look to have a lower spoke count than I am comfortable with, but my local bike shop guy pointed out they are doubled up at the contact points, so I should be ok. The stem and seatpost are bontrager. Fred also has a set of clip on aerobars with it, so now I have three sets in my office to choose from.
The only thing I needed was a set of tires, though there is nothing wrong with this set. I just need to go heavier duty for now. I wanted to keep a piece of the old bike, so I had Zimmerman’s order a matching green tire for it. After a tuneup, new cleats for the shoes and a new tire, I was completely back in business. You can see I also had a matching lime green water bottle cage. It was one of two on my rear hydration rack that wasn’t on the bike when it disappeared.
Last night I picked up the bike and went for a ride on the rail trail with my friend Patrick who was towing a trailer with his baby girl Ruona. I plan to ride this bike to Selinsgrove this morning for my Bible Study group, and then back home.
I plan to ride this bike as much as possible.
I really feel like George Bailey here. Not that I did anything to save Bedford Falls year after year, but that the people of this community heard I was in trouble, and immediately rallied to support me.
If you didn’t read that thread yet, go do it now. See what kind of good folks there are out there.
And finally, the next way I am able to pay it forward is to invite people from the BT community (or blog readers) who will be around Wilmington/Wrightsville for Beach to Battleship, to a BT gathering at our rental on Sunday afternoon/evening. Details will be in this thread.