Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to Get Your Stolen Bike Back

Dude! Where's My Bike?!? That was my reaction as I pondered my bike's whereabouts in front of the downtown Omaha public library where I had locked it earlier that morning. Apparently my bike, Old Yeller, had been stolen.

Like Pee-Wee, I was without my favorite bicycle. Over the next week, I inquired about my bike in many local businesses around Omaha and Council Bluffs. Fortunately, my efforts paid off. A tip called in from the flier posted at the downtown Jimmy Johns hit pay dirt. The caller said that he saw Old Yeller being walked into Sol's Pawn shop on 16th and Cass on the day it was stolen. I immediately called Sol's and began the process of recovering Old Yeller.

If you're reading this because you've been the victim of theft, I wish you the best at recovering your property. Hopefully, after using some of the following tips, you too will hear the wonderful news that your bike has been found.

How to Get Your Stolen Bike Back

1) Don't panic. You've got a reasonable chance at getting it back even if you only have a basic description of the bike. Most often, a bike is not chopped and sold for parts on eBay, but remains in your area as is. More often, it will end up in a local pawn shop within 90 days. As I researched this story, I found cases where people recovered their bikes years later from garage sales in the exact condition it was in before it was stolen.

2) Act Quickly: file a Police report ASAP. The Police will a basic description including make, model, type and color. Even better, provide the bike's serial number and a picture.

3) File an on-line Bike theft report at Bikewise.

4) Use Social Networking: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, e-bulletin boards, craigslist. Tell everyone you know. Get the word out fast!

5) Create & post fliers on bulletin boards of local businesses in the vicinity of the theft, in local bike shops, pawn and second hand shops.

A cash reward does a lot toward helping motivation. I offered & paid $50 to the person who called in the tip.

6) Hit the Bricks: get out and talk to people over your lunch hour. I handed out dozens of fliers around the library and talked with lots of locals. You may get some good info by word of mouth.

How to Prevent Bike Theft

1) Get a good lock to lock your bike well. A braided steel cable offer reasonable protection, but the ULock is your best bet. A rubber-coated kevlar cable is next to worthless: a serrated kitchen knife can easily defeat it in seconds.

2) Record your bike's serial number. DO IT NOW. The serial number is stamped on the frame beneath your crank (on the bottom bracket housing). When my neighbor's bike was stolen two years ago, I followed their advice to write down the serial number. Why do this? Because pawn shops are required by law to file the serial numbers with the Police Pawn Unit before they can sell any merchandise. When you file a police report with your bike's serial number, it's a guaranteed match to recover your property.

3) Have a good picture of your bike for the police report.

Regarding the Police Pawn Unit

  • Police Pawn unit shares a database of serial numbers between Nebraska and Iowa.
  • Pawn shops typically take two weeks to process new inventory serial numbers with police
  • Pawn shops thumb print and ID all sellers of merchandise. Thefts over $500 are felonies.

Again good luck and thanks for reading.


Saturday, July 18, 2009


Make: GT (road bike)
Model: ZR-4000
Year: 1999
Color: Flat Yellow powdercoat; NO Decals
Serial#: MT90105838

Contact: Brady
Phone#: (402) 216-7542

Or call 911 as the bike as been reported stolen to the Omaha Police department.

Last Seen:
12:00pm - 5:00 PM Friday July 17, 2009
Downtown Public Library Bike Rack
215 S. 15th Street St (15th & Douglas)
Omaha, NE 68102

The Kevlar cable was cut and bike/lock completely removed.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Spinning | Mashing

A cyclist's natural cadence falls into one of two camps: 1) spinning (faster in a lower gear) or 2) mashing (slower in a higher gear).

Lately, the trend has favored spinning. Like many things related to cycling in the past decade, Lance Armstrong has something to do with it. Essentially, spinners peg a higher cadence to a particular heart rate zone, which has been derived from the cyclist's HR MAX. Following this method can produce a very efficient cardiovascular system tuned for intense racing.

There are also those who say that spinning is less taxing on the knees than mashing, as pushing a high gear puts tremendous stress on the patella and its surrounding tendons. Visualize the knee cap as a watermelon seed being pinched between the thumb and index finger.

While I prefer to spin, my friend Wes is a masher. With tree trunks for quads and softball-sized calf muscles, Wes is ideally suited for the long and strong cadence over spinning. So while time trialing on the flats, he's grinding. Climbing Ponca Hills? Yep, big ring. Icy winter rides on a franken-hybrid with aero bars? You got it: torquing the high gear. And tho it doesn't appear to have any effect on his apparently robotic knees, the same cannot be said about his chain ring. Once squared and flat, the ring's teeth are more likely to appear on the blade of a Black & Decker circular saw than as a bicycle component. And like any true masher, the smaller ring appears as blemish-free as the day it was forged.

Anyhow, I thought of Wes during last night's weekly Omaha Trek Store club ride. Near the end of the route, it has become a tradition to assault the last hill in the 53 x 11 gear. Why this has become the case, I'm not sure. Perhaps it's to mix-in strength work. It could also be the final chance to redeem a token of pride for those mashers who were dropped by spinners on previous climbs.

Whatever the reason, I made an initial attempt to ascend this hill in the biggie three weeks ago. I managed (barely). It wasn't too bad, actually. Yet before I could bask in my self-righteous hubris, Shim informed me that it didn't count because I was standing on the pedals. Jerk.

So I made a second go at it last week, climbing 3/4 of the hill before standing. Almost!

But let it be known that in the twilight sun of July 1st, 2009, I became a bad-ass masher who finally made it up the entire hill while remaining seated in 53x11. As I approached the crest, a rush of adrenalin swept over my quivering legs and through my soul, compelling me to shout out in a booming voice above the valley of Fort and 82nd Street, "LO, I HAVE BECOME WES JOHNSON!!"

There you go, Wes. This one's for you. Happy mashing, fella.