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a Happy Bike Month. Details of my bike rescue.


The fixed.gr forum in NYC is a place where you can announce an event, find a good recipe, post up your favorite album for download or sell your bicycle. It’s no different then any other on-line community, interested in a particular activity. This one happens to be about bicycles, particularly the kind that have the back wheel cog permanently attached to the wheel.

One of the threads in the forum has received some recent attention because of the rise in stolen bicycles. People have posted up here in the hopes that others out there who aren’t talking about bikes but actually riding them, might happen to see a stolen bike and take some action. This is exactly what happened to me on Sunday, and I was out of town. Some really amazing people in our “bike community” went way out of their way to rescue one bike bloggers ride. I am shocked, amazed and elated. I am thoroughly impressed with what went down and I believe it is a real reflection of our community, and how we aren’t all talk on a forum.

Here are some of the details and heroics. (If I get any of this wrong, please let me know)

On Sunday, May 25th, I was out of town in Toronto, attending the wedding of the woman who married us. Danny, an avid forums contributor, was rolling down Ave B, he ran into Roscoe, who he had never meet but recognized him from his bicycle he’d seen on the forum. Roscoe was finishing up a daily ride, all decked out in spandex, when the two meet up. Both of them had noticed an orange KHS on Ave. C. around 6th street, a bike they also recognized from the forum as being stolen. It was hard to miss the Green aerospoke wheel. They began to trail the guy, a short Hispanic male, in a cameo thermal shirt who looked very awkward and did not possess the skills to ride a brakeless fixie. Danny and Roscoe began to make phone calls to try and get some backup and identify the bike. Danny, spending time in Boston to attend school, got in touch with Christina, who we all meet a few months back at Jacob’s Pony Up alleycat. She was instrumental in proving it was my bike and calling some other people including my lawyer. Danny’s girlfriend was there and she asked Roscoe, if they thought the guy could get away. Judging by his weird riding style…”no way.” Dan Bones, Chombo and others were called in this impromptu phone tree, all trying to help.

Roscoe and Danny followed the perp down 6th street towards Ave D. Past that he went into the projects where he got off the bike and meet up with some of his hommies, who Danny described as: “Bigger,” and as laws of the jungle go, it would be harder to confront him. At this point Pablo and Jack Crank showed up. Jack had helped someone else out with another bike rescue so this was becoming old hat for him. At this point they had a large enough posse to step in and asked the guy where he got the bike. They argued for a while and explained that the bike was stolen and they wanted it back. Here’s where the details are a bit foggy, but they were able to convince the guy to come out of his building lobby and go with them to a place where the rightful owner would pay for his bike back. This was obviously about money, the guy said he bought the bike for $150 on Houston street and didn’t want to loose money. The conversation didn’t get heated but the person with the stolen bike was faced with 4 or 5 really persistent people, enough so that hommies of his thought it would be best if he just gave the bike up.

The bike crew convinced the guy that I was over by the bike polo grounds at Sara D. Roosevelt park on Chrystie street. This was an attempt to get him to a place where there were a whole bunch more bikers who could help out in this. Some how the guy agreed to go, but not by bike. He had a minivan close by and said he would meet them over there. With some degree of difficulty he tried getting the bike in his van, which made everyone suspicious and the crew decided to follow in case he fled. Pablo tried skitched the van for a while. Others wrote down the guys license plate and phoned it into the police, saying they could identify a stolen bike in the back of a mini van. At this point the van was rolling down Houston Street near 1st Ave. and Brad who owns Trackstar rode up in front of the van, blocking its path, basically saying the jig is up, its over. At this point the van tried to flee the scene and Brad tore off after him and supposedly scratched the van. This made the driver very upset and he began arguing with Brad which stopped the vehicle and allowing the police to roll up behind him.

At this point, Jeff Underwood who owns Continuum was there and others from Polo, including Dylan on her bling fluorescent yellow Brooklyn Machine works ride, that would stop any potential bike napper.

Having the filled a police report minutes after I had the bike stolen really helped keeping the cops interest. In recent cases of bike theft, the reality is that it comes down to the owner having to prove its their bike which can become difficult. Not too many people have serial numbers on their bike or have kept the original receipt and could produce it on the street. I wasn’t even in the same country at the time. The police don’t want to get involved in street justice and would rather stay neutral, but they were detaining the guy and were probably interested in why so many people were involved in this one bike. They had also managed to get my lawyer on the phone which helped in building my case.

If it wasn’t for some hard negotiating on the side from Jeff, the police were ready to just let the guy go with my bike. Jeff worked out a deal for $50.00 bucks to get the bike back and even invited the guy come down to his shop and get another bike, maybe one that wasn’t so sought after by the bike community. The cops made everyone shake hands in some sort of UN peacekeeping gesture and everyone disbursed.

I am really amazed that all this went on:

Special thanks to:

Roscoe and Danny for starting off the search party
Pablo and Jack for convincing the guy not to disappear into his hood.
Danny’s girlfriend for helping out
Christina for helping from Boston
Brad from Trackstar…Wow, for your amazing heroics.
Dylan for helping out with the muscle.
Chris K. for adding legal assistance via the phone.
Dan Bones for phone support
Jeff Underwood for sealing the deal.

Continuum and Trackstar are not just great bike shops but really amazing community hubs who will go out of their way to help a biker in need.

If I missed anyone out there, thanks for being part of the greenwheel rescue team!! I owe you all a beer, at least.

and for all those out there who made fun of me on various websites, where I was constructively trying to share my experience with others in the off chance that this could happen, you don’t have to sit in silence and shame.

There is a vibrant tight knit, awesome bike community out there…doing really positvie things and might just go above and beyond to help you out.

Saturday, May 24th was the Tour De Brooklyn

David Y. of Bless this Bike has some pictures of the event.

and

Streetfilms have a video.

Alleycat race roundups part 1

Bangkok Fixed Gear

shows you what its like to race in Thailand.

Alleycat Winner

1. Tar
2. Joke
3. Ball


More pictures here.

Bike recovered!!!

This is turning out to be an amazing bike month after all. Not just cause I got my bike back, but because we really have a tight community here who looks out for one another.

I don’t know all the details but while I was away at a relatives wedding in Toronto…a bunch of truly awesome bikers went way out of their way to recover my bicycle.

It sounds like a crazy story and I want to get all the details.

Stay tuned.

For now…Thank you to all the people who helped with this. I promise to thank you all personally.

You know it…you love it…Bike Month Critical Mass


So next weekend, there is sooo much happening in NYC…I thought I would start posting now.

Friday, May 30th is Critical Mass. And its Bike Month.

Riding around the Blogosphere, drunk and falling over.

Well it another round up of the bike blogsphere and news.
First stop…

Bikesnob.
Now why our delightful purveyor of snarky bike culture bashing needs anymore mention is a unclear but he is really workin into the press so I will give him props.

Right before bike month he had an article in Time Out in their Great Rides section for Brooklyn

Now he is mentioned in the back of the latest Velo News…

(Notice the cartoon, Wait a sec? I’m the bike blogger with the big Schnoze!!)

And he was mentioned in this article in the nytimes about an art show in Berlin using bicycles.

The trend in fix gears has spawned blogs like bikesnob…to completely flush out the ridiculous nature of bikes becoming fashionable. Like this crap.
RVCA and Cinelli are getting together and making 50 limited edition bike frames. OOOh, and I’m sure they’ll be affordable too. To hang on the wall of your 400square ft studio in East Williamsburg for 600,000 bucks.

I mean, I’m all for making biking cool, marketing, getting more people on bikes, but when I see things like this its hard to keep from vomiting…

or this…

But, I will stay positive even when DKNY didn’t learn anything and keeps doing this.
Yes they have their orange bikes locked up in the U.K. Hey, this article links to me..Yeah.

But in really important bike news…former Talking heads front man David Byrne…are you ready for this?


Got drunk and crashed his bike on some cobble stones in the Meat Packing district, according to Gothamist.
The Horror. Well its this kind of a thing that will get something done about our roadways…just like Gardens are knocked down and activists loose fierce battles to save them until rich celebs like Bette Midler decide to do something about Gardens. Then, poof…they’re saved.

Maybe David can start the “New York, I’m too Drunk to bike home Project.”

“This is not my big beautiful bike…MY GOD, What have I done?”

Speaking of treacherous roadways…no matter how drunk you get…

Forget about fixie riding hipsters making Williamsburg the new hot trendy spot, or East Williamsburg…I think its going to be Middle East Williamsburg, in the far off reaches of Afganistan. Joe Hendry at Messmedia.org sent out this article of how people are becoming bike messengers in Kabul.

Afghan mine victims proudly work as bicycle couriers

Reuters India, May 22, 2008
By Jonathon Burch

KABUL (Reuters) – Abdul Saboor rides his bicycle as far as 18 miles a day through the dusty streets of Kabul delivering packages. Most people might be daunted by such distances but not Saboor who peddles through the hilly streets using his only leg.
Thirteen years ago Saboor had to have his right leg amputated after stepping on a landmine near his house in western Kabul. It happened during the civil war when the city was subjected to regular rocket attacks, shortly before the Taliban took control in 1996. Many of the roads were riddled with landmines.
Saboor, now aged 35, had already moved his family to the relatively safer northern part of the city but from time to time he would check on his old home, and it was on one such trip that he lost his leg.
According to the United Nations an average of 60 people every month are killed or wounded by landmines or explosives left over from war in Afghanistan and an estimated 270 square miles are still contaminated with explosive devices.

But that has not stopped Saboor from earning a living, albeit a hard one. He and his fourteen colleagues work for Afghanistan’s first and only bicycle messenger service, the Disabled Cycle Messenger Services (DCMS). They deliver letters and packages between offices in the city.

“Of course it’s hard work, even for an able bodied person,” says Saboor, leaning on his crutches.
“But the fact that I can work and I don’t have to sit on the side of the road and beg for money and can provide food for my family gives me a big sense of pride.”

The concept is simple and has been employed in large cities such as London and New York for many years, as cycle couriers can often guarantee a faster delivery time than other vehicles as they are not held up by traffic.

Kabul’s roads often come to a standstill due to the sheer amount of cars but also because of the numerous security barriers that have sprung up in the city which restrict the flow of traffic and are a great cause of complaint from residents.

Saboor is different from the rest of his colleagues in that he chooses not to use a prosthetic leg, opting for crutches instead. His leg was amputated high above the knee making it more difficult to use a prosthesis, he says.

“I used to use a prosthetic limb but it caused me a lot of discomfort,” he says, as one of his colleagues massages his own stump.
Asked if he uses an artificial limb when he cycles, Saboor quickly rejects any doubt over his abilities.
“No, I use my one leg! If you want, I can carry you all the way to north Kabul. I’ll show you!” he says strapping his crutches to the bicycle frame and using his only leg to pedal effortlessly around the mud courtyard of the DCMS office.
He and his colleagues use heavy Chinese manufactured bicycles costing around $50 used by Afghans all over the country.
DCMS was set up by an Afghan NGO in 2002 but two years ago disagreements over pay caused them to break away and go it alone. With the move went the donor funding and much of their client base. They have been struggling ever since.
“We’re taking our last breath,” says Mohammad Amin Zaki, the director of DCMS who is also a mine victim and messenger.
“We have 20 days until the rent is due and after that we don’t know what will happen.”
The company’s struggle reflects the wider economic instability of a country ravaged by almost three decades of war. Unemployment is at least 40 percent.
“The financial situation is bad throughout the country so people usually prefer to deliver things themselves,” says Zaki referring to the lack of business.
Each of the messengers earns a meager $10-16 a month depending on the amount of work; well below the national average. On top of this they receive around $10 from the government in the form of disability allowance. All the men work other jobs.
Zaki works in the evenings as a laborer, mixing concrete while Saboor helps his son sell rubbish bags by the side of the road. Another makes bricks.

“We don’t have breakfast or lunch. Usually we wait and have dinner together with the family because we don’t have enough money for food,” says Saboor.

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world with half of its 25 million people living below the poverty line. The country has also been hit hard by the rising global food prices.
But despite the odds, Saboor remains pragmatic about his future. Asked what he will do if the business shuts down, he says: “I will definitely get another job. I don’t like not working. If I lose this job I will find another one somewhere else.”

————————-
The first Kabul alleycat should be happening shortly.

Pre-register for Rumble 5.

Rumble thru the Bronx is this Saturday, May 24th. 1300.

you can preregister here.

Other goings on this Memorial day weekend…



The fine folks at Cyclejerks.com out of Denver Colorado are throwing a Gang Bang.

Be sure to tune into this great site, they have weekly video podcasts of the carefree punk rock lives of cyclists and couriers in the Mile High city…


Rumble thru the Bronx five. This Saturday.


This weekend is the 5th annual Rumble thru the Bronx. An alleycat so intriguing even the New Yorkers feel like “out-of-towners.” This is a really fun race which winds its way all over this twisted borough which many participants have never step foot in. Racers often trade in their fixies for the more practical road bike due to the lengthy terrain. Its a race where knowledge of the streets is such a factor that they post all the checkpoints in advance and groups of participants even ride the course in preparation.

Hodari, Mike Dee and their crew due an excellent job of putting on this race which always includes a beach party afterwards on city island and amazing food by Roz. There’s nothing like home-made food after a grueling 26 mile race.

Here is a little video I made of last years race:
Rumble 4 from Michael Green on Vimeo.

To get the course map with the checkpoints visit: “http://www.5borogenerals.com/”> 5borogenerals.com

Save Union Square has a posse.

One minute your gathering for critical mass trying to figure out which guy in a giants baseball cap and red sweat band is a “plain clothes” cop. The next minute “poof.” Union square suddenly is surrounded by fences and its not just to keep a large group of people from going on a bike ride. Bad Dream? Nope just another day in the never end struggle to keep our diminishing public space out of the hands of developers and utilized for what its meant to be…p-u-b-l-i-c s-p-a-c-e.

This is the case with the South side of Union square in case you were wondering what the bulldozer monster track rally was going on down there.

The story is a familiar one and goes a little something like this…
“Here’s the skinny: after letting the pavilion building fall into disrepair for over a decade, the city government was finally ready to pony up the cash to repair the building and return it to public use. Before the city could even complete their own plans, the Union Square Business Improvement District, or BID, (led by corporate chain stores such as Barnes and Noble and Whole Foods) got involved, dangling wads of extra (anonymously donated) cash, and before you know it the plans that emerged took on a decidedly unfriendly tone, particularly if you happen to be an artist selling your work, a farmer selling food, or any citizen who might want to just sit down in the park without having to purchase a $5.00 latté.”

Find out more information about all this at saveunionsquare2008.blogspot.com

or better yet come to a rally at 5pm Wednesday, May 21st. at Union Square South.