So I got my bike back! I didn’t think it would happen but it did. I’ll start with a quick time line:
Sat 6th April 20:45 Parked my bike outside Ostrich pub on Bury Old Road
Sun 7th 00:30 (ish) noticed drain pipe and my bike had been removed from the Ostrich pub
Sun 7th 01:00 (ish) reported bike stolen on the 101 line (answered quicker than expected!) given incident number from very understanding lady who dealt admirably with an emotional and silly drunk
Sun 7th 6:45 posted photograph of bike along with details of £50 reward to the remains of the drainpipe
Mon 8th 10:15 Phone call from GMP: crime number issued and advised to keep checking Gumtree (which I did along with eBay).
Tues 9th – Sat 13th managed not to buy one of the many unicycles for sale around Manchester for about £40 (well done me!)
Sun 14th 06:45 Attended Bowlee car boot sale (wanted to go for an early morning run anyway). Saw about a dozen bike but most looked like they had been rescued from skips. Clearly not the appropriate class of car boot sale.
Wed 23rd spotted my bike for sale on Gumtree for £150 in Crumpsall/Cheetham Hill and reported it to the police
Fri 25th After giving the Police 48hrs to act I found that the officer assigned would be off duty from 16:00 and so wasn’t presumptuous as to assume my bike would merit overtime payments across the weekend. Time to embark upon plan B
Fri 25th 16:30 – 17:30 spent looking around Cheetham Hill for a house numbering 14 (probably) with a nice white uPVC door and a distinctive handle (to support an elderly relative?). As the search continued the presence of flowers in a front garden, a black wooden post and modern brickwork became more significant. Not a fruitful search
Gumtree gives a location via Google Maps but it would appear that this is approximate rather than absolute.
Fri 25th 17:58 Give up and phone vendor. He was having his hair cut at the time so conversation didn’t go the way I’d hoped but he said he was going to text me an address for a rendezvous
Friday 25th 19:22 I made another call and then a text, not too desperate in style but along the lines of give me your address you bastard
Friday 25th 19:51 Reply from another mobile number putting the pressure on me (cheeky get!) had potential buyer coming around about 9pm (I was thinking about Saturday pm). I’d been drinking so needed a driver and said I’d probably see him on Saturday. I now had an address.
Put out a message for a driver and (muscle?) assistance on Facebook
In’t social media brilliant folks? Apart from all the wrecked marriages/relationships and threats of death to women celebrities obviously. But around here it really rocks. I know some of these people as actual people so it’s great to see what a difference they can make even if it’s just to a virtual feeling about everyone’s neighbourhood. I’ve shopped locally, cleaned my local streets, danced with people I barely know, had some of the most hilarious nights of my life, learned to love low grade wrestling but most importantly got to know some fab and groovy people who live around the corner from me.
I had actually quit Twitter but it clearly hadn’t quit me! My 9yo daughter spotted I was addicted and she’s quite astute, so I quit. But despite this, a photo of my bike was re-tweeted around with beautiful things written that made me cry. My local MP even re-tweeted the photo and I didn’t even vote for him last time around. Blimey!
So in response to my appeal a friend volunteered the assistance of her husband @InsidePrestwich who is at least 10 times as awesome in the flesh as his virtual identity and then John stepped up who I had met on Twitter and thus been able to speak to last Saturday (as a real human being) just before running the Heaton Parkrun 5k backwards. I’d heard John on GM Radio yesterday proving he was as good with the mouth as he was with the wheels as your ultimate cab driver around Manchester. I wanted wordsmiths rather than muscle men in my posse although we noted that all of us were wearing black hoodies whilst each being in the 2nd trimester of our (awesome) lives.
We headed into Crumpsall to a fake address (it transpires). I knocked hopefully on what would seem to be the door of a good Jewish household (on the Sabbath) and despite lights on the was no reply. I called the perp and he muttered something about flats opposite so I muttered something back that was appropriately cool though slightly more intelligible (I may have used the word ‘sweet’). The next half hour was spent standing in the rain or sheltering in John’s wheels trying to not look suspicious whilst on the look out for someone suspicious. This was tedious though probably more so for my companions, I called and texted a few more times and eventually he turned up.
The rest is a bit of a blur.
He brought my gorgeous bike out of a block of flats, I held her again, wheeled her away confidently, and thought about mounting her. In my mind I had played out this scene in daylight with the ruse of testing out the single speed’s ratio before disappearing into the distance. But alas it was dark, wet and I’d lost the bottle to be so brazen. I told the vendor that the bike was mine and therefore I would be taking her with me. This confused him and I got as far as trying to load it into the back of John’s wheels (people carrier actually) when he stood in the way getting more and more upset. I showed him my reward poster he started going on about serial number so I tried to blank him and go about my rightful business and he said something like ‘I can’t let this happen’ which made me think twice but I continued. There were other threats but I didn’t hear then and they were so ‘street’ that I wouldn’t have understood them anyway. He said he was going to phone the bloke who sold the bike to him so I was forced to phone 999 to follow up my only threat of getting the Police in to resolve the dispute. He walked away with a mate (who I forgot was also dropped there by taxi) and we went home. With my bike. Feeling very pleased with ourselves.
I like to think that most bike thieves are opportunist scum rather than street robbers who threaten people for their possessions, though I guess that there are some that would cross that line to physically harm someone. I took a chance, but a calculated one. If the Police had been able to act quicker I wouldn’t have done this. I didn’t enjoy it. I’m a coward deep down which I think it’s much better to be than someone more brazen. I went in there just wanting my bike back (even without lights, mudguards and pannier rack).
No retribution or nonsense.
I’m dead happy and so grateful for Adam and John being with me and the support of a virtual community behind us.