ASU Cycling teammates, BMX riders confront thief, save bike

I hadn’t planned Saturday, July 19 to be anything out of the ordinary. I rode my Trek Madone to work at Landis Cyclery in south Tempe, and I planned to ride it home.

But when I stopped to meet up with my teammate Constantin Schreiber, everything changed.

I didn’t bring my bike lock since I planned on riding home after work, so when I stopped to meet Constantin at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop in downtown Tempe, I made sure we sat in clear sight of my bike and at the very least fastened it to the inside of restaurant’s fence with my helmet strap.

Nearly 25 minutes later, out of the corner of my eye I saw a man quickly walking on the street with my bike.

I jumped out of my seat while screaming choice words and began to run after him but immediately slipped on my cycling cleats on a very smooth floor. Constantin jumped out of his seat and we barged out the front door yelling at the thief, who was riding away with my racing bike.

The thief unleashed his inner-Cavendish and sprinted away on my bike while Constantin, who was wearing flip-flops, tried to catch up to him, and I tried to catch up to Constantin while still wearing road shoes with cleats. We knew we weren’t going to catch him.

We regained hope when a couple of nearby BMX riders heard us yelling and began chasing the thief on their bikes.

“We got this!” they yelled, but it appeared that the thief was pulling away from them.

Constantin and I ran north on Mill Avenue past the Light Rail tracks, and my heart sank as I saw the thief already rounding the corner of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway, heading east.

We could do nothing but give up, and the thought of never seeing my bike again sunk into the pit of my stomach.  I looked in the direction of its final path, but this time, miraculously, I saw it coming toward us.

“That’s my bike!” I said to a man who handed it over to me.

The rest of the BMX riders came over to us, one of them with the palms of his hands torn up and bleeding from the elbows.

“I got that [expletive referring to the thief] right here!” he said, pointing to his eye socket.

Adrenaline-filled high-fives and recounting of the chase ensued: Friends of the two BMX riders who started the pursuit were riding further north on Mill Avenue, and they quickly realized what was happening when they spotted their friends chasing an apparent bike thief.

With now four riders hard on his heels and his energy likely expended, the bike thief must have figured his chances were better to escape on foot on difficult terrain.

He jumped off the bike, dropping it in the process, but one of the BMX riders wasn’t going to let him get away.

The man, who later self-identified as “Crazy Chris,” jumped off his bike, grabbed the thief and clocked him in the face to prevent him from escaping. Unfortunately, the thief wrestled himself free and ran onto the trails around ‘A’ Mountain behind the historic flourmill.

As we listened to the BMX riders’ story and Crazy Chris recounting, none of us could contain our excitement that we fought the bike thief and won.

We then signaled police officers on bikes and reported what happened. The officers scoured the trails around ‘A’ Mountain, but it was already too late; the thief had escaped. But he left behind a backpack filled with an assortment of bolt cutters and tools that come in handy for someone in the bike-stealing business. We filed a report on the man, who is still at large.

Crazy Chris and his BMX buddies have more than my respect, and I’m incredibly grateful for their good-Samaritan actions in order save my bike.

“I know what it’s like getting your hard-earned money taken away from you, and I wasn’t going to let this low-life have yours,” Crazy Chris said.

The thief thought it was his lucky day, but he ended up getting a black eye, losing his bike-stealing tools and just plain losing. It was a good day for honest cyclists. The teamwork of the BMX riders saved the day and my bike, and it goes to show the strength of the cycling community and the solidarity within it.

By Iván López Castrillo with Constantin Schreiber