After biking over 3000 miles through thirteen states across the U.S. this summer, my bike was stolen on Saturday night.

Although my bike is basically just a fancy piece of steel with bits of plastic and rubber, it feels strangely like a living, breathing creature. It creaks and groans when it’s tired, it whirs when it’s uncomfortable, and it squeaks when it’s wet. It has lots of character, thanks to dents and scratches, chipped paint, stickers and new parts that were added after a hard crash in Nebraska. 

My bike wasn’t just a handy mode of transportation, it was a physical diary of the hardest two months of my life. And I woke up on Saturday to find it gone, the cleanly cut bike lock left on the grass, still wet with dew.

After wallowing in sorrow for a few hours, I took small, manageable actions. I contacted campus security and the police and I posted about it on social media. After I felt like I had done everything I was capable of, I took a breath and accepted that I would probably never see my bike again. 

Yesterday, I got a call from my dad. He sounded coy, as if he had an exciting secret to tell me. He asked me where I was, and in two minutes he pulled up outside of Howell House with my bike. 

Granted, it was missing a few accessories, like a water bottle cage and some bike bags, but all the critical parts were intact. My bike was home! 

Reflecting on these past few days, I have come to a few conclusions. 

The first is that sometimes it pays to have a reckless dad who will seek out a notorious local bike thief, even though some of the time you might be slightly embarrassed by his behavior. 

The second is that if you want something, you will probably have to put up a fight for it. Simply being sad and wallowing in your misery doesn’t get a stolen bike back. It’s okay to feel stuck or lost, but in general, a tiny action is better than no action at all. 

The third is that sometimes the universe chooses to be kind and give you a second, and even third chance. And when it does, repay the favor. Tell your loved ones how much you appreciate them. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Trust yourself a little more, and while you’re at it, decide to trust others, even though it might seem foolish to some. 

The fourth conclusion I have drawn, and possibly the most important, is no matter how much it costs, a high quality bike lock is cheaper than losing a bike full of memories to a notorious campus bike thief.