Violated!

My husband is a super mellow guy.  He has a Teflon coating that allows most stuff to roll off him but to the people he loves that coating is easy to penetrate.  He has been very antsy lately and even a little short and abrupt.  It took me a while to figure out what was eating at him. 

Two weeks ago he rode his bike to the bank. Unfortunately, I had his U-lock and I was carrying the key to my own lock, which I had left at home.  He had no way to lock his bike but decided to park his bike outside the bank and keep an eye on it.    When he blinked that one eye, his bike was taken.  It was not an expensive bike: he found it on Craig’s List and paid $60.  It was a heavy, bright red mountain bike that didn’t always shift well (one of the cogs was bent) but he used it all the time to run errands.  Our money is tight so we aren’t able to replace his bike until next month but, based on his behavior, I might have to squeeze some money out of the budget now.

I decided to interview my husband Dave, to find out how it feels to have your bike stolen:

KM So how did you feel when you exited the bank and saw that your bike was missing?

DM I felt abused and violated.  I also kicked myself because I could have been more assertive and brought the bike into the bank.  I was mad at myself.  Those were the things I thought about on the long walk home.

KM So now it’s been a few weeks without your bike, how are you feeling now?

DM I feel antsy and agitated. I work from home and some weeks when I am on-call, I don’t leave the house for several days.  My bike gives me an opportunity to get out and see the sun.  I’ve lost a lot of personal mobility.  Riding my bike is not the same as driving somewhere.  Riding my bike is a way to unwind from the stress of work.

KM: So if you had the thief here who took your bike, what would you say to them?

DM: Stop stealing bikes, please. I forgive you.  And care about the bike more than I did. After all, I left the bike unlocked.

I shared with or younger daughter, Erica that I was writing about and she reminded me she had also had a bike stolen.  I decided to also interview her.

KM: Share with me the circumstances when your bike was stolen:

EM I was living in downtown Long Beach condo with secure underground parking and within that secure underground parking was a bike cage where residents were told to keep their bikes.  There were two camera pointed at the bike cages.  You could only access the bike cage with the key to grounds that was issued to the residents.  But what was later discovered from the footage from the security cameras two bike thieves helped each over a one foot gap between the top of the bike cage and the ceiling.

KM: A one foot gap?

EM: Yes. Twelve inches.  One thief would boost the other to the top of the cage then open the door from inside the cage.

KM: But how did they get into the parking structure?

EM: They waited until someone opened the parking structure door.   In our building there was a known problem that when you opened one parking access door the other one would also open.

KM: So they were very determined

EM: Yes. They were very determined.  They took the time to figure out how things worked there.

KM: So how many bikes did they take?

EM: As far as we know, they took six bikes.  There were probably 50 bikes in the cage.   They were two guys that had stolen bikes from other apartment buildings downtown.

KM: Do you know what types of bikes were picked by the thieves?

EM: They took bikes that were hybrid and road bikes and left the cruisers.  There were plenty of cruisers down there but none of them were stolen.

KM: How did you feel when your bike was stolen?

EM: I was more surprised than angry because with all that security, you think your belongings are safe in your own home.   I thought wow! They went through a lot to get those bikes. They didn’t care about being caught. They didn’t care about their faces being captured on the security camera.   They were eventually caught.   The building had to hire extra on-site security and they did eventually seal the gap in the cage.

 KM: But I understand that you still don’t store your bike there.

EM: No. Even after they replaced my bike I said I don’t trust them. I’m putting my bike in my house because that is the only place that I can guarantee that my bike won’t be stolen. Unless they break into my house.   I keep it in my living room where I can see it every day and that is comforting.

KM: This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to you.

EM: There was a time when I would ride my bike to school: Long Beach City College. I would park it right outside the building where I would have my evening class 4:00 to 9:00 pm.   One night I came out of class and I saw that they weren’t able to cut my bike lock so they took my bento box, bike seat along with my rear and front lights. So I had to ride back to work, to pick up my car with no seat. Riding high!

KM: How far did you have to ride without a seat?

EM: It was only two miles but I had to remind myself to not sit down.  I was not aware that things like that happened.   But you better believe that whenever I ride somewhere I remove anything that can be removed before I lock my bike.

KM: How did you feel when you came out of class and found your seat and lights missing?

EM: I was angry and I felt violated. It was like someone had broken into my car and taken everything I cared about and needed but left my tires. It was frustrating. All I was doing was trying to be healthy by riding my bike to school from work and not have to worry about finding a parking spot then someone had to ruin my day.

KM: So if you had the thief here who took your seat and lights, what would you say to them?

EM: You owe me a seat and lights! I don’t know what I would say. Why? Why that? What made you do that? Thanks for not taking my whole bike.  But what was the purpose of taking my seat and lights?

Both my husband and my daughter had a similar reaction when their bikes or bicycling parts were stolen: violation.   I am grateful to have never been violated in this way.  They both had an emotional attachment to their bikes: so do I. They used their bikes for transportation, to save money and to improve their health: so do I.  I’m not sure how I would feel if my recumbent trike was stolen but I think I will learn from their experiences.

This is why we teach you to always lock your bike securely in our Street Savvy classes.

Finding the Perfect Bike Saddle by Kellie Morris

 

Antique touring saddle image by 123rf.com

Very early Tuesday morning I rolled out of bed at the unnatural hour of 4:30 am to attend a Spinning class with my husband. I could kick myself for getting in bed late Monday night knowing I was getting up so early!  But I was able to shake off the drowsiness about 20 minutes into the class when my groin developed that familiar tingling numbness that quickly progresses to pain.  Crap!   Had it really been that long since I had been on a normal bike saddle? I now ride a recumbent trike.  I used to ride a road bike and had found a great saddle and after many hours in the saddle had gotten to the point where I experienced no discomfort.  As I was spinning I wondered if there was a study about women and bike saddles.  Thanks to the power of the Internet I was able to find a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Health shared in this piece in The New York Times last year: Can Cycling Affect Women’s Sexual Health?

I remember my journey to find the perfect bike saddle when I rode a road bike. The saddle that came with my 2002 LeMond Buenos Aires steel road bike was a joke.  Mostly leather stretched over metal.  A trip to my local bike shop left my head spinning: how do you choose a bike saddle? If you Google “Choosing a Bike Saddle”, you come up with millions of hits.  That’s a lot of information to wade through. So, let’s distill the information.

The bottom line is FIT. The saddle must fit you. But what are you fitting? You’re fitting the width of your pelvis also known as your “sit bones.” If the saddle doesn’t support your sit bones you end up sitting on soft tissue that’s not made to support your body weight.  When you sit on those soft tissues they get numb then wake up with pain.  Bicyclelab.com has an informative YouTube Video on the female anatomy: Seat Comfort for Cyclists.

There are other parameters besides fit, to consider such as:

  • Did you get a proper overall bike fit?
  • What is your riding style? Road bike, hybrid, cruiser, etc?
  • What is your budget?
  • Is your saddle at the proper height and position?
  • Do you stand up on your pedals regularly, when riding, to relieve pressure?
  • Consider adjusting the saddle nose slightly down.
  • Ask your local bike shop if you can return a saddle for a store credit if it doesn’t work out for you.

I found a Specialized saddle that was an excellent fit for my road bike at a high end bike shop chain in Orange County: Rock n' Road Cyclery.  It was an excellent fit because the shop measured my sit bones. First, I sat on a gel pad that took an impression of my sit bones; secondly, the technician measured the impression.  The shop recommended a saddle for me based on the measured width of my sit bones.  

Initially I was skeptical because the saddle looked like all the other instruments of torture that filled all the bike shops I had visited.  But once it was installed, I was delighted with its performance.

But I tried many saddles from many different bike shops before I happened upon this Specialized saddle.  I tried a woman-specific saddle; no good for me. Then I tried a cushy gel saddle; awful. Then I tried another saddle; still no luck.  Before I found my Specialized, I thought I would never find a comfortable saddle.

I was very happy with my Specialized saddle, but I know it may not work for everyone. But as an analyst at heart, I appreciate Specialized taking the guesswork out of picking a saddle. I think it’s important to be knowledgeable when you shop for a saddle.  

I can tell you what is the prefect saddle for me, but that will not necessarily apply to you. Everybody is different.  So get out there and search for your prefect saddle.