The process of getting my bike back actually goes way back to about the time that it was stolen. As I was sitting at lunch reminiscing about my bike and weeping silently for its plight, Mikealicious mentioned that it was probably just up the street. Apparently, there is a man who runs around town without moving his arms, reverse-Riverdance-style, and steals whatever bikes are not chained down. And he lives just up the street from my work. Well apparently this seed was germinating in B-Town's head, because she came to me a couple of days ago to tell me that the house was right next door to her children's day care, and that there were many, many bikes there, and that she was sure mine was one of them. I was ready to just let it go, to give my sweet Huffy up for dead, but B-Town convinced me to go down there, and even said that she would drive me there. So we set today as the day.
Fast forward. It's today. It's 4 pm. It's time. It's on. So B-Town, Mikealicious, and I pile into B-Town's car, with me sitting in the back of the SUV ready to spring to action like I am part of the A-Team or something. We cruise down to the scene, and roll by all drive-by style to see if my bike is there. Because if I can spot it in the daylight, when it's, you know, light out, I can just go in on a recovery mission under the cover of night. Hell, if the conditions were right and my bike was like out on the edge, and no one was around, I was prepared to just hop and and pedal like hell, through alleys and yards and driveways until I got back to my place. I didn't care.
There was, however, a small problem. We couldn't really see anything from the street. All we could see were wheels and handlebars sticking out from behind the garage and house. And I can't tell my wheel from another wheel. I mean, it's not like I have one of those sweet, super-aerodynamic wheels like they have on Olymipic team cycling in the velodrome that I was watching one day from Beijing. Oh no, I just have the spokes like any normal person would. So Mikealicious navigates us back into the alley so we can get a better look at what is going on, and we are creepin' like we are in the movie Friday or something. And there are a shit ton of bikes stashed in this guys back yard.
I mean it. There are bikes of every shape, size, and color, piled in two piles, one leaning on the back of the garage and one leaning on the back of this little shed across the yard. And when I say that there are biked of every kind, I mean that there are bikes of every kind. There are mountain bikes, road bikes, BMX bikes, pink bikes with streamers, banana seat bikes with the big fluorescent neon orange triangular flag that sticks like 16 feet up off the back so everyone can see it even if you are riding through the a crowd; yeah, there was one of those in there. I think that there may have even been a big wheel. I am not sure. But there was a plethora of bicycles. And there was something else in the back yard as well. It was the guy. And his little dog, too. He was just hanging out in the back yard, basking in his pile of bikes. He wasn't even riding one of them. He was just standing there with his dog. It was like he was surveying his bike domain. So that meant that there wasn't much we could do at that time. We got a good look but couldn't see anything definitive, so B-Town rolled out of the alley and dropped Mikealicious and myself off downtown. It seemed that a little night reconnaissance was needed.
So I rolled out after dark and made my way to his house. It's not far, so I just wandered. And I knew that I was in enemy territory because things did not go well from the start. First of all, he had his minions out. That's right, Bike Guy has an army. Who knew? I didn't. But they were out in force. His army consists of a large herd of deer that continually scared the hell out of me as I made my way deeper into enemy territory. I would be walking along, through the residential neighborhood, and the white-tailed soldiers would be eating people's lawns, blending into the pitch blackness. I would be mere feet away from them and they would move their heads. And let me assure you, Company, there is nothing more frightening than seeing something move that you thought was a concrete statue in the dark of night. So yeah, Bike Guy tried to stop me by throwing his army of hungry deer at me, and he failed. And I didn't even have my army of grocery store bag boys with me. I persevered and made it all the way to the center of his territory by myself before I ran into yet another problem.
I decided to attack the Bike Guy's house from the north, mostly since that is the side that I was on. So I turned to make my way down the alley and discovered that there was a BMW parked in the very first driveway, running. It may have been Tyler Burke. I am not sure. All I knew was that I couldn't go down the alley if Tyler was standing guard, so I continued on my way all smooth-like. Because I'm a pro. So I make my way up the street a little bit and disappear into Trees for Tomorrow.
For all I knew, Trees for Tomorrow was a place where kids went to learn about forestry issues. You know, one of those places that you go in elementary school that is neat because you get out of the school but the kind of place the no one is interested in except that one kid who lives way out in the country. Nobody ever bothered to tell me that it was a sleep over camp. So when I went strolling up the driveway and came upon a huge bonfire with dozens of screaming children surrounding it, I was momentarily confused. And a little frightening. I didn't know what I had gotten myself into. For a short time I thought that I had stumbled into some sort of non-deer army training center set up by the Bike Guy. All I knew was that I wanted out of whatever I had gotten myself into. So I turned on my heel and headed back towards Bike Guy's house.
When I made it back to the alley that led behind Bike Guy's, the BMW was gone. So I proceeded down the alley, trying to be quick about my business. A big fat guy wandering slowly up a back alley in a town of 1500 people in the middle of the night is the kind of thing that tends to draw attention, so I wanted to be like a ninja: in an out without anyone ever knowing that I was there. So I make my way up to Bike Guy's house - quick and sneaky as can be - and I realize that the back yard is bathed in light from the streetlight in the alley. This dumbfounds me.
I am serious. I had a lot of trouble handling this. So I stand there, under the streetlight no less, weighing my options. Checking out the pile of bikes behind the little shed is out of the question. They are bathed in light like they are part of the rapture or something. So I turn my attention to the bigger pile resting on the garage. And the bikes are in shadow. Unfortunately all of the yard between myself and the bike pile is lit up like a prison yard at night. But I thought I could sneak in and check them out if I came around the garage from the front. It was as I was weighing this option that I noticed the neighbor. He was in the window of his house. And he was watching me. That's when I knew that it was time to go.
So I slid around to the front of the house and found out four disconcerting things. 1.) The front was bathed in streetlight as well. 2.) It was right across from the Police Station. I knew this going in, but I had managed to forget that fact between the afternoon and the evening. 3.) Bike Guy's house has tons of windows facing the sidewalk and the garage, from which he may have been looking with any number of stolen telescopes, kaleidoscopes, or any other kind of scopes and 4.) There were a bunch of people going back and forth from a car parked in the street to the house just up the block. So, to recap, lots of light, lots of authority, lots of windows, and lots of activity in the street. I may not be the smartest guy in the world, but I am smart enough to know that that is not a recipe for success. I whipped out my bugle and sounded retreat. And it would have been good after that if those God-damn deer wouldn't have kept scaring the shit out of me.
Stuff it, Company. I can hear you cackling at me. I can hear you calling me a nancy-boy too. But I say "Nay!" I may not have gone in for the kill, but sometimes one has to know when the odds are not favorable. And I knew. So I made the smart decision. I didn't really want to be put up by the County for a night against my will. Besides, now I have tons of information and can formulate a plan. Maybe I will have Holly Hoffenagel's husband cut the power and I will sneak in and liberate my bike then. Maybe I will let the kids out of the yard at the day care next door and then slip in during the resulting commotion and swipe my bike back. Or maybe I will decide that it's just not worth the risks and I will let him have it. Or maybe I will shoot bottle rockets at his house just to piss him off. I'm just kidding, I won't do that. I hear his mom is nice. And it's a pretty nice little house. But I can do something now if I want to because I am armed. Armed with information. And that's all you need when it's on. And it's on. And that's on the Internet, so it must be true.