Friday, April 8, 2011

Any Lock Is Better Than No Lock

When we were freshmen in college, Johhny,  Wes and I all took bicycles to school with us.  We planned on riding them to class, maybe roaming around town on them, etc.  You know, the usual bike stuff.

Johhny had a green Schwinn Varsity, Wes had an orange Huffy or Roadmaster 10 speed of some sort, and I had a red Triumph 10-speed which I had bought that summer, specifically to take to school.  The Triumph had cottered cranks, one of which was perpetually loose on the spindle, steel wheels and a Brooks B-17 saddle.  The other guys made fun of my saddle, and taunted me about how comfortable their padded saddles were.  I could never convince them that the Brooks was comfortable to me, in much the same way that it's hard to convince some people now.

I was always the worry-wart in the bunch (I get that from my daddy), and I bought a chain and a lock for my bike before we even went off to school.  I was appalled to see that neither Wes nor Johnny had brought locks for their bikes.  So, I convinced them, after a lot of nagging, to get some locks so that their bikes wouldn't disappear while they were in class.

I noticed, though, that I would often see one of their bikes sitting outside of a a class building, unlocked.

"Somebody's going to steal your bike," I'd say.

"Well," Johhny would say, "if somebody wants yours, they'll just break your chain and take it."

And, that could have happened.  The chain and padlock I had were not real secure.  The chain was not much thicker than what you would use as the base of a charm bracelet, and the lock was of only a slightly higher quality than the locks you got out of gumball machines for a dime.  But, it was what they sold in a package as a "bike lock", at the time.

One day, we all three rode over to the Biology Building for class.  We had all three ended up in the same Freshman Biology class, together, somehow.  I locked my bike, and the other two just walked in.

When we came out, my bike was still sitting there.  You can probably guess the rest.

My chain and lock were cheap, and would have been easy to break.  But it wouldn't have been as easy as just wheeling two unlocked bicycles away.  The lesson learned is that you don't necessarily a "good" lock.  You just need the best lock on the bike rack.  Thieves will almost always take the easy pickings.

Neither one of those guys ever bought another bike.  I kept that Triumph until I moved to Ohio, where I sold it to a co-worker.  He got drunk and rode it into a tree, and broke the frame.

I've always felt bad that I let the bike down, after all those years, and sold it to someone who didn't take care of it.



  1. Great story and a sound lesson.

  2. It's pretty crazy to think a college student would just leave their bike unlocked while they were in class. Times have certainly changed!

  3. I am always amazed at the amount of abandoned bikes, securely locked, on the racks of my local colleges, decaying away.


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