Day 278 - Mexico City - 5988 km

The trip is on hold, but this time beyond my control. The bike is gone. Stolen. Earlier in the evening I was having dinner at a restaurant in Roma Norte, CDMX with my friend Antonio, whom I’d cycled together with to Nevado de Toluca. We were both on the bike and had parked it in sight, locked it against a pole. People at the restaurant could watch. I do it all the time, it’s safe. Roma is one of the richer and developed neighbourhoods in Mexico City. After dinner I met with Martha and we decided to watch a movie in the cinema on Insurgentes, the 2nd largest avenue in Mexico City. First we were at her house, the moment I should have decided to leave the bike inside and take an Uber to the cinema. But we didn’t, we hopped on the bike. Perhaps a Dutch instinct. At the cinema I asked if I could park the bike inside. The guard didn’t allow it. Then to the parking garage, but there were also no bikes allowed. We walked around and parked it in front of Cafe La Lombarda, a restaurant with an open store front, where people and staff could watch the bike. I locked the frame with a 12mm cable lock to a lantarn. It seemed safe. The film took a little longer than expected and we returned after 12. The street was quiet and I didn’t feel good about leaving the bike here. We walked to the corner of Chiapas and Manzanillo where it was parked. There were some taco stands around which were cleaning up. I’d eaten there a couple of times, I lived here in an Airbnb a few weeks ago. A familiar neighbourhood. Walking through the street I reached out my head to be able to see the bike. “Don’t worry, you’re bike will be there.” Martha tried to comfort me. We took 10 more steps and we both saw it wasn’t there. My heart sank. A second I doubted if we didn’t park it elsewhere, but then I realised it was gone. I loved this bike. In a way it was my home, equipped and tuned exactly to my wishes. So many memories, so many challenges I’ve been through with this bike…

The lock was on the street, cut through. You need a big cable cutter, but if you have that, it takes two seconds and the bike is yours. Nobody’s going to stop you. I felt stupid. Was it my fault? It feels like it. In the end it’s always your fault. You can’t be careful enough. But then again there are so many ungarded moments, anything could happen. Everyday when I’m cycling I leave it outside when I go to a supermarket or store. Most of the time I take the Carradice and Brooks bag with me, containing the most valuable parts like MacBook, hard disks, cameras, lenses, drone, wallet… but at a small shop I even leave that on the bike. It takes one organised bad guy to take everything with him, and I have nothing. During 25.000 km around the world the only thing that got stolen was a rear light in India. I had left my bike parked outside in places like Budapest, Bucharest, Istanbul, Tehran, New Delhi, Kolkata, Bangkok, Singapore, Vancouver, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and nothing happened. The lock has lots of little scars in the plastic though, from people attempting to cut using something like a pocket knife. But so far it remained my property.

I recall what exactly has been stolen. Luckily most of my luggage was stored in my room. But then it’s not only the bike. There’s a lot of add-ons which almost double the value of the bike. Tubus and Blackburn racks, Schmidt Son Edulux II headlight, dynamo, 3 Blackburn anything cages, Gilles Berthoud saddle, Ortlieb 6L Frame bag, Primus Omnifuel stove, lens filters, bike pump, several small tools, Blackburn top tube bag, Quad lock phone holder, Profile Design aero bars and a Carradice bag quick-release. All of these are highly durable, top-quality products and were a considerable amount of my travel budget all together.

Then on the third day, a glorious turn. The Facebook post about the stolen bike gets shared +200 times, mostly through Mexico. Pipe Llanos, a member of the Facebook groups MTB Friends, offers me his (almost new) mountain bike for free to continue my travels. An amazingly generous gesture. Not a brand that wants to sponsor me, just an individual with heart of gold. We meet at at La Bici Urbana, a bike shop in the centre. Pipe is born and raised in Mexico City. We take the bike from his car and take it for a spin. It’s a good mountain bike, a size smaller then my Surly ECR, but it doesn’t feel too bad. The biggest challenge will be fitting all the luggage on this bike, because it’s regular mountain bike, it’s doesn’t have all the braze-ons and attachement points for racks and backs, like the Surly ECR. But at this point I can only be grateful. And the generosity doesn’t stop here. The bike shop donates a heavy U-lock, for preventing a second robbery. I’m speechless. Hope in humanity is more than restored. I agree with Pipe to borrow the bike for a few days to see if it is realistic option to continue the trip to Patagonia.