Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Virginia man had his cross-country bicycle trip interrupted when a thief stole his bike outside the main library in downtown Portland.

Stavros Calos, a recent graduate of William & Mary College, and six friends left Richmond in June to see the country on two wheels. Though headed to Los Angeles, they decided to visit Portland, Ore., to see a city touted as one of the country’s most bike-friendly.

Mr. Calos learned quickly that it can also be bike greedy. Shortly after arriving last week, someone cut his cable lock and stole his silver Specialized Sirrus hybrid road bike.

“I was heartbroken,” Mr. Calos said in an interview with the Oregonian newspaper. “I had that bike since high school and over 10,000 miles on it.”

After reporting the theft to police, Mr. Calos posted fliers around town and put an ad on Craigslist. He didn’t find his bike, but he did find some hospitality. One person replied to the ad to get a better description of the bike; another phoned to tell Mr. Calos about a Web site on which he could register his lost bike.

Finally, one of the people Mr. Calos was staying with gave him a bike to borrow indefinitely. Mr. Calos had met the man through, a site that unites travelers with people willing to offer them a free night’s stay on their couch.

“I have many people in Portland who I would consider my friend now,” Mr. Calos said.

Despite his bad luck in Portland, Mr. Calos said he plans to return to the city in September to look for work. “That day was a really bad day, but after that, I kept having awesome experiences with great people,” said Mr. Calos, now back on the road, headed south toward California.

He also said the theft only reinforces his perception that Portland has the kind of bike-mad culture he seeks: “I think that the reason that my bike was stolen just shows that there is a strong market for it in the city,” he said.

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