STOLEN BIKE!!! Please keep an eye out!!!!!
Hopefully, by the time this article is published, Steve will be back happily cruising on his new custom bicycle, but if not please keep an eye out for his bike. It was stolen sometime between Sunday evening, June 17,or the early hours of Monday, June 18. Steve usually locks his bike up every night, right in front of his mother’s car. It is hidden from view and Steve thought to himself, “you know, it’s Sunday, it’s late, who is going to bother seeking out my bike to steal?”
Well, someone did and it’s a real shame on many levels. It’s shameful that someone would steal any bike, but for Islanders who know Steve, we all pretty much realize he lives on his bicycle. He has told me numerous times, it’s his freedom, so I really felt badly for him. We can all see how unique his bicycle is and how important it is to him. Believe me it is, there is not another bike in the world like Steve’s. Please, if you hear or see anything about his bicycle please call the Marco Island Police Department.
A few months ago, Steve’s bike was starting to break down, a common occurrence with him. A group from the Lutheran Church, the Women of Marco, was kind enough to come forward to purchase Steve a new bicycle. Finding an appropriate bike for Steve is a long process and not always practical due to his special requirements. I decided instead of ordering a stock bike as in the past and retro fitting it, I would search out all the right parts and build him a bike which would be strong enough and have the right features to address Steve’s needs. I approached the project as a mission, who would win, Steve wearing out the custom bike or the bike resisting breakdown? I worried that I knew the answer already but I was going to try my hardest.
Steve is a fairly big, strong guy and, along with his ataxia condition, his riding position can be pretty rough on his bikes. It’s probably why he goes through them every couple of years or so. He has cracked numerous frames, bent wheels, snapped chains, broken off derailleurs and worn out countless tires and tubes and that is just to name a few. Determined to build the ultimate “super” bike and knowing how strong Steve is, I started to compile a list of all the bikes he has had over the years and what on each bike worked the best for him and what he liked, specifically. My supplier for parts for previous repairs to Steve’s bikes is Sun Bicycles. The company was extremely helpful searching out the parts I needed from their warehouses across the country.
Steve has a balance issue and he really likes his rear wheels to be cambered because it helps him when he turns corners. This was the first specific unit required for the build. Next, I had Sun build him double walled wheels, with heavy duty spokes; now I was onto something! The next and biggest challenge was the frame. How will we keep him from always crackingframes? I ordered a heavy-duty steel frame and had a welder add support pieces in every area of the bike that Steve had cracked on his previous bikes. This is working out well I thought, Steve doesn’t have a chance, or does he? Once I had all the main parts together I painted the frame Steve’s favorite color, black. We had a sticker made that said “Lou Dog”, Steve’s Dad’s nickname and he always had a plate on the front of his car that said the same thing. In honor of Steve’s Dad, we applied this sticker to each side of Steve’s bike.
The bike and its main pieces were now complete. We put on Steve’s old seat, which is a seat Sun Bicycles introduced on a bike a few years ago to aid people with back issues. That specific bike and seat are no longer made so we had to use his old one. The final, essential task was to install brakes that Steve could operate safely. We gotta stop this tank with Steve on it!!! Steve has limited use of his left arm and I found a brake lever that would stop both the front and rear brakes simultaneously using only his right hand, the rear being a disc and the front brake, a traditional mountain style. It worked great! I wasn’t going to have him skidding into curbs and bushes anymore.
Now onto the drive train, let’s move this tank. Steve no longer needed gears to shift, they were bothersome and he never used them. They would just get broken, so let’s go single speed, one gear, fast. I figured out a gear ratio for him that would make it hard for him to pedal, which he loves. It’s his leg workout, he says. I ordered the strongest heavy-duty chain available and I needed two for his bike. The two chains on his bike are one for the rear cambered section, which drives the wheels and that connects to the main frame, and the second, from the rear of the main frame to the front chain ring. That chain is about six feet in total length. The front chain ring has a chain protector on it to keep Steve from constantly getting greasy chain ring tattoos. The pedals themselves also have pedal extenders. These have a two-fold purpose, one so he can get a good amount of torque on the pedals and two, to keep his ankles further away from the chain ring and pedal arms. The extra features save scrapes and reduce grease tattoos making Steve and Ma happy!
The bike is now complete. It is working well and over the next month or so there would have been some fine tuning to keep the chains in line with each other, adjustments to his seat and handlebars. Everything came out as planned and most of all, Steve was comfortable and very happy. We just had to add his custom straw holder and large rear basket to hold his wares and I can’t forget his Penn State flag. This I know will really make him happy and keep him pedaling.
The bike is gone. Steve’s freedom to travel about Marco is gone. He is no longer free to do everyday activities that are readily available to the rest of us. His bike fulfilled his physical and mental health needs, freedom to socialize and visit with his friends. The new bike was custom made for Steve. It is so much more than a means of transportation. It is his lifeline on his island home which he shares with all of us. Please regard this as a civic duty to keep your eyes and ears open and CALL the Marco Island Police Department if you learn anything about the bike’s whereabouts. Thank You, Marco Island.
Marco Island Police Department non-emergency tel. #: 239-389-5050