DeRosa Story

Aug 20 2012

Brian SF details the week leading up to the return of his friend Justin’s DeRosa, stolen in 2006.

(Backstory: Justin was living in NYC in 2006 when his storage unit was burglarized. The thieves targeted the new old stock, light blue DeRosa sporting special Eddy Merckx tribute decals and nice chrome. It is a rare bike today in 2012, and back in 2006 before the major wave of eBay sales and track bike popularity it was extraordinarily precious. )

For years we kept our eyes open, scrutinizing every DeRosa with track ends that came across swap meets, flea markets, bum spots, hang outs, eBay and CL. We chased down people with similar colored bikes missing decals, we flexed on bums based only on seeing a peek of chrome fork, and we never even heard a word about the thing. That was the shock – in a small town like SF, you figure it will roll back around at some point. We looked and looked, infiltrated bike theft circles hoping for info, we dug underground, and for 6 years kept eyes open. We got close when one in what seemed to be the same size popped up on eBay in 2010: unfortunately it’s 2-digit serial number was one off — the one for sale was made just hours after the stolen one. Getting so close after so many years restored some PMA, but also way frustrating.)

On Monday, 6th Aug – Justin emails me a CraigsList advertisement for a baby blue DeRosa pista frame, with the same decals as his. The size would be right, and the remaining headset and cranks point toward a confirmation as well.

I alert what few bike friend I have in Portland to please: #1 – look at the ad and let me know if you know he person, #2 – look at the ad again and let me know if you know the bike. #3 – be ready to lock the thing up if you see it on the street and take it back defensively.

Without knowing how far Justin got by contacting the seller, I didn’t want to blow the listing up or make anything hot. I also didn’t want to send a half peloton of threatening cyclists on a hunt for some dude if that dude had no clue how hot the bike was he was trying to sell.

A long day of waiting goes by. I hear word that at least 5 people are offering to help by either arranging the sale and buying the bike back outright or by showing up with no money and using some brute force.

On Tuesday, 7th Aug – We’re close: a sale is set up.

On Weds 8th Aug – We’re fucked. The ad has been pulled, the seller is not talking to anyone. I don’t want to ask Justin what’s the latest for fear of being a bummer. It really is a pretty DeRosa and anyone missing it would rightly be heartbroken.

At this point, with the ad gone, we figure it is time to blow it up. Justin gives the go to our friend Jenny, who is in touch with a much larger audience of cyclists and do-gooders. Jenny reaches out to several sub-communities within the PDX bike-community and they are all eager to help. Within hours we receive word back from 2 different people who have seen what they think to be the blue DeRosa pista. It is not lost, it is not hidden, it’s not even underground.

More steam from the online campaign leads to infinite “re-tweets” about the bike, and several postings around the cyclo-blogo-sphere gain more attention for the subject. I even hear word that some news station wants to run the story. Pressure builds.

The seller reaches out to Justin at this point! A bullshit story is given about how the dude came to be in possession of the bike, and even more bullshit about where the bike is now. Justin gets names and other info which is quickly re-distributed through the network, so our group up in Portland can be informed as well.

Thursday 9th Aug / Friday 10th Aug — more momentum from community. Justin and the seller are making their own arrangements now, while half of Portland and a bunch of older heads in SF are waiting for some good news.

Saturday 11th August – I’ve finished the morning spliff and check the inbox to see if anything has happened and see the news, by way of a photograph, thanks to our friend Jenny: The bike is in the hands of a friend, and is coming home to Justin by month’s end. Jenny captured the story much better, with all the hot details that make it juicy. I just can’t imagine how happy Justin must be now, after all these years.