Being Human

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Riding into the Sydney CBD via Pitt Street last summer. Leona Edmiston dress, Geox heels, Tom Ford sunglasses, Yakkay helmet, Cartier Santos watch, Linus Eleanor pannier bag, EZee Sprint e-bike.

The unifying trait of people is that we all make mistakes. Man, woman, driver, cyclist, pedestrian, young, middle-aged, older. We can not call ourselves blameless or error-free. It is one of the best ways to learn but only if we pay attention. I made a huge mistake the other day. I’m still  learning from it.

The other Friday evening, I was tired. It had been a long week between kids and work. But instead of going to bed early, I started watching YouTube. My husband had already gone to bed. I rationalised that I was catching up on popular culture but after an hour, it was a waste of my time. I went to bed past midnight. I woke up early Saturday morning because my husband and kids were planning to go to the early session of figure skating.

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Here I was demonstrating good judgement by locking up my bicycle twice in front of the workshop on Parramatta Road recently. Once next to the post with my U-lock and secondly, using the back wheel immobiliser. Ancient Lisa Ho dress, Tom Ford sunglasses, Yakkay helmet, EZee Sprint e-bike.

We had breakfast together and when everyone left, I started work. A few hours later, I bicycled to the workshop tired and frazzled as I had a deadline for Wednesday. I unloaded the pannier bags from my ebike, unclipped my phone from the handlebars, turned off the bike’s motor and clipped the key to my carabiner. I locked the back wheel lock to immobilise it and clipped that key to my carabiner. I had developed the bad habit of leaving the e-bike in front of the shop but locked to itself.

I brought my bags inside and started work. A few hours later, I went to buy a sandwich. My bicycle was still there. I met some lovely ladies who were attending a screen printing course at the workshop. They left a little after 3pm. Laura, the owner said that she saw the bicycle when they left. Not long after their departure, I had a sewing crisis. I would need to stay later. Laura, the owner knew about my deadline and could see that I was trying to meet it. Fortunately, she had enough work to keep her there later as well. Finally finished at 7:15pm, I packed up my belongings and said goodbye to Laura. I exited the front door and turned to my left.  The bicycle was gone. Have you experienced that moment of nausea where you mind refuses to accept reality?

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Busy Parramatta Road in Petersham going home late one night outside the workshop. Zara coat, H&M dress, Geox heels, Yakkay helmet, Ortlieb pannier bags.

Ironically, a NSW police van was parked in front of the workshop on Parramatta Road. Laura ran up the street and asked the other shop owners if they had seen someone wheeling away a bicycle. I was in shock. I looked at my carabiner full of keys not expecting to see the key for the back wheel lock key. But it was there. F&$k! Was my first thought. There was confirmation that I had lost my mind earlier that day by not double locking the e-bike to itself and to a post. Someone had either wheeled away the e-bike or picked it up and driven it away.

I walked to the pub on the corner and asked the security guard if he had seen someone wheel away on a silver-grey bicycle. He shook his head no. I called the number for non-emergencies listed on the back of the police van. I spoke with a man who recorded my contact details. The police officers, whose van was parked in front of the workshop, had just returned to their vehicle. I stepped out of the shop with phone in hand to speak with them. They were very supportive and even apologetic. They mentioned that there was CCTV all along Parramatta Road which would assist. But they had a domestic dispute to attend now. They suggested that I finished my call. I would receive an event number to identify the theft.  They suggested I wait for them to return or that I attend Newtown Police Station. I asked how long it could be for their return but they weren’t sure.  My family was waiting for me at home. The man on  the non-emergency-line suggested that I go home.

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The constable who I met on Parramatta Road called me and asked me to attend Surry Hills Police Station to give a statement. I went and met Sargent Wilson who cheered me up with his hopefulness, positive attitude and interest in bicycles. We had a great chat about my work.  I suggested that he consider using an e-bike for his commute. He even came outside the station to see my cargo bike. He gave me his card and included his mobile number.

The journey home via Uber was $16.81. Nearly the price of a delicious lunch in the city.  I told my daughter over dinner that I hadn’t paid attention to what I was doing and the consequence of my mistakes was that my e-bike was stolen.

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My son in Winter 2012 on the back of the EZee Sprint. Topeak seat. Love those H&M jeans! Ancient Laura Ashley scarf which he wore under his helmet to stay warm.

We were all sad at the loss of the e-bike. My son had accompanied me on the back during my commute to the office for nearly a year. The e-bike had come on our adventures to the Southern Highlands, the Blue Mountains, Megalong Valley. I had ridden her innumerable times into the city and she had received a motor upgrade last year.  I had just purchased a new 19ah battery. The kids and I agreed that if we were to get her back, we would give her a name. She was one of the only bikes in our household without one.

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I was quite pleased to have orange accents on the EZee Sprint on the back wheel immobiliser lock, Kryptonite lock, Yakkay helmet lock. Later, my new bungee straps would be orange. One of my favourite photos outside Westfield Sydney. Summer 2015. Cue jumpsuit, Geox wedges, Bulgari sunglasses, Swarovski earrings, Cartier Santos, Linus Eleanor bag.

Days passed. I organised to test-ride a few bikes and write some reviews for the bicycle shops.  My preference is to ride an e-bike in summer because of the heat. I don’t have the time, inclination or end-of-trip facility to pack another set of clothing, shower, makeup and re-dress.

The shock of the theft grew less sharp each day. I heard from the constable on duty whom I met on the street in front of the workshop. He was going to request the CCTV footage from the pub on the corner. I had already broadcast the theft on all of my social media networks along with a photo and description of the e-bike.

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Tucked in to corner at Bent Street in the Sydney CBD, Summer 2015. Veronika Maine dress, Geox heels, Cartier Santos, Bulgari sunglasses, Yakkay helmet, Linus Eleanor bag, EZee Sprint.

Four days after the theft, I received a message via social media from A. He asked me if I had recovered my e-bike.  He stated that he had seen it in Newtown. I rang him. He gave me a very precise description of the person who had been on my e-bike, the time and place. But then I was at a loss of what to do. I said, “Should I go to the police with this information?” He said, “I am the police.” And told me he was also a cyclist. I was so pleased at this positive development with a smile on my face.

A. rang me again later in the afternoon asking me for the event number and we discussed the uniqueness of my e-bike. I asked A. if he had been on his bicycle or in a car when he spotted my e-bike. He said that he had been on foot getting lunch. When he saw it, he was startled. So much so that someone next to him asked if he could help by holding his lunch. But he decided that the e-bike was too far away for him to safely pursue. I agreed. I didn’t want him to get hurt for the sake of my e-bike. He laughed and said that he had already been hurt as he had ridden in the Tour Down Under in Adelaide last week. He continued by saying that my e-bike was unique and the thief looked like a kid on it. The thief hadn’t adjusted it to his height and he wasn’t wearing a dress and heels as befit the e-bike. He had posted a police bulletin which included the details of rider, e-bike and location. It would be communicated to the stations around Newtown.

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My seat height has increased since this photo was taken. Now, I dismount and wait by standing at the lights. I have greater range of motion with a higher seat. Winter 2015. Zara dress, J.Crew booties, Linus Eleanor bag, Yakkay helmet, EZee Sprint e-bike.

I have been struck by the generosity and kindness of the NSW Police in this matter. All have been extremely polite and professional. This is a direct contrast to the situations that all bicyclists have encountered in Sydney. I have been left with a feeling of hopefulness that my e-bike will be recovered soon.

To be continued…

Happy Bicycling!

X Sarah

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7 Comments

  1. I hope you get your bike back. I understand how you feel like you lost part of your life, it hurts. I met you on a protest ride once, I love how you are so into your riding! I had my garage cased out by some organised thieves in May last year and the came around to steal not one, but 5 of my awesome custom road bikes! It feels horrible and you just keep wondering where they are, the bikes become your friends after so many fantastic adventures together. I have built more special bikes since then and moved on to some extent, but I always have a quiet thought for my lost bikes, sometimes out in Kuringai NP where we had good times watching the dawn spreading over the trees and water.
    I’ve never had any leads on my bikes unfortunately. You have got something to go on for now so I’m wishing you luck, it will be a great day when or if you get your beautiful machine back!
    Ride on

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    1. Thanks Matt for your kind words and your thoughts. I agree that the loss feels horrible. Of course, I have ascribed feelings to a machine and I worry that my lovely ebike is feeling scared and alone in unfamiliar surrounds. But I know that this is silly and I try not to go there. Yes, the adventures together are priceless. I continue to be hopeful because the NSW Police continue to be for me. The lead last week was especially significant. I’m sorry for your loss too. 5 bikes in one fell swoop is terrible indeed.

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  2. Mmm… I remember losing the bike I loved in high school. I was 15 and it was a white Repco Tracer 🙂

    These days I think I’d just use it as an excuse to buy a new one 😀 (We secured insurance for our costly cargobike when away from home)

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