Tale #3: Too Many Hours in My Chamois by Dan Murphy
Not unlike Saimo's story, this Dan's story takes place a number of years ago on Tiger when it was the de facto only destination (and also sorta slim on legal trail options).
It was springtime in 2003 and I was training for the Transrockies Challenge, a weeklong mtb stage race which was to be held that summer in BC. My training regimen consisted of basically riding as long as I possibly could whenever I could find time, day or night. I didn't have a coach or a reliable training partner - I just figured more hours in the saddle would be the best preparation I could hope for.
So after my daytime bartending shift at a tavern in Fremont ended at 5, I headed out to Tiger to meet up with a few other riders for a night ride. But as luck would have it, I hit Friday traffic, so they got started without me. I was going to be riding alone, again. So after circling the upper lot to look for them *just in case*, I parked my Volvo wagon in the lower lot under one of the few street lamps out there, visible to traffic on Hwy 18. (Dirtbag security system.) There were a handful of other riders' vehicles in the lot but no one was around. I took my Trek 8500 off the roof, donned my Gregg's Cycles lycra kit, locked the car, flicked on my NiteRider Digital Pro12 to its low setting, and headed up to the trailhead in the dwindling evening light. No big deal, I've done this before.
I had a pretty standard loop that I like to call the Figure Eight: up the fire road, past the Preston entrance, back to Iverson, out on NW Timber, up the 'crossover road', down Preston, and back out on Timber. I remember passing one of the guys from the Downhill Zone about an hour into my ride - he said he'd seen my car in the lot all by itself. He said "ballsy move there, parking near the highway. I always park in the upper lot so no one can see my rig." To me this was counterintuitive - my years as a sociology student told me that parking where others could see the vehicle would dissuade a would-be thief. Whatever. I pedaled on.
Late in the night I returned to the lot, not surprised to see that "Old Blue" was the only car left. I coasted up to her and swung around the passenger side to load the bike onto the roof. There was an unmistakable sparkle on the ground next to the back seat passenger door: glass. My heart stopped as I saw that the window was broken. I had every reaction you'd expect: curse words, the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, then rage and fury. I noticed a big rig parked across the highway a short distance away, idling with its parking lights on. I must have looked like an absolute lunatic running over to him in my Sidis and skintight XC kit. I yelled up to the cab "Hey! Did you see who broke into my car?!?!" The driver looked down at me from behind his rolled up window and shook his head 'no' with emotionless eyes.
I ran back to the car and began to assess the situation. My Chrome messenger bag - out of which I basically lived - was nowhere to be found. The plastic tote with my spare riding gear - gone. Wallet that I'd stashed under the seat? Gone. CD's in the sleeve on my visor? Gone. The car was empty. Everything was gone.
Cold and hunger began to set in as I hoisted my bike onto the roof. It felt like it weighed a hundred pounds. My sweat began to cool rapidly, and the ride buzz and adrenaline were wearing off.
I started up the wagon, cranked up the heater, and called 911 asking for State Patrol. I was directed to drive to the WSP station in Factoria, where I was then told to call King County Sheriff. By this time I was getting really hungry and my patience was wearing thin. I made a report to the Sheriff while speeding back to my house in Maple Leaf. Upon arriving at home, I found that my three roommates happened to all be away. At the time I thought that was an odd coincidence. But then I remembered how long I'd been in my lyrca kit, and how hungry I was. I grabbed a credit card out of a hiding spot my dresser, quickly changed into some street clothes and drove to Beth's on Aurora as the clock on my Volvo's dashboard read midnight. I scarcely remember eating, but I did have the presence of mind before going to bed to leave my roommates a note explaining that yes, my car window was broken, but it happened the night before far away from Seattle.
I awoke early, hopped on my commuter, grabbed breakfast at Bus Stop Espresso with my credit card, and started my Saturday morning shift at Gregg's Greenlake. A short time after we opened the shop phone rang and someone said it was my roommate John calling. I figured he got home from his girlfriend's, saw the broken window, and called before seeing my note. I picked up the phone.
"Dan! Our house has been broken into!" he exclaimed.
"No John, my car window got busted out at Tiger last night."
"Your window? No man, the house - my cameras are all gone! Your computer is gone! We've been robbed!"
I hopped back on my bike and sprinted up to Maple Leaf. I turned the corner onto 12th and saw a trio of cop cars outside my house. My stomach sank again. What the ___ is going on.
My roommate John was on the lawn, talking to an officer. He was visibly shaken. Another cop was dusting the front door for prints...
So what happened?
This is what we pieced together: While I was out on the bike in the dark by myself, someone helped themselves to the contents of my car. Finding my wallet, they read my address off my driver's license. And while rummaging through my belongings, found a spare set of keys in the stash pocket of my Chrome bag. (You know the one.) And they pointed their car west, and with a healthy head start, drove to my house in Maple Leaf. Seeing the lights out, we surmise that they tried the front door with the keys I'd made available to them, probably called out "hello?" a few times, and upon finding it unoccupied, helped themselves to the stuff in the house.
My roommate had just returned from a trip to Denver to keep his deadbeat father from selling a family heirloom to a pawn shop. It was a watch that'd been purchased by a great-great-grandfather during the Gold Rush. Gone. Camera collection. Gone. A couple of computers. 100s of CDs. All gone.
Lesson: Never leave anything of value in your car while riding. Be it at Tiger, or anywhere for that matter.