When San Rafael High School Sophomore Ulysses Lopez’s racing mountain bike was stolen at the end of last month, the story set off a flurry of activity to help him get a new bike.
For San Francisco resident Murphy Mack, a co-founder of Fairfax cyclist bar Gestalt Haus and founder of the SF-based SuperPro Racing, that flurry was fueled by anger. Mack decided to start an Indiegogo campaign to replace Lopez’s bike. He made the campaign early on Feb. 27, after talking to a friend involved with Mike’s Bikes on the phone about Lopez’s situation.
Reading the article “flushed my face with anger,” Mack said. “It made me, on a personal level, upset and angry that someone had cut this kid’s lock and rode off with is bike.”
Lopez didn’t want the community to raise thousands of dollars to help him replace his bike. He also didn’t expect generous offers from cycling companies. He just wanted his bike back, especially because his family couldn’t afford a replacement and he didn’t want to miss the rest of the season’s races.
But after a Feb. 27 article on Patch asked community members to keep an eye out for his bike, Lopez and those with the San Rafael High School mountain bike team Bike Dawgs have been completely overwhelmed by offers of support.
And Lopez will be getting a new bike very soon.
“Within hours of the story going live, people in the local cycling community came out of the woodwork wanting to help,” said Bike Dawgs assistant coach Rich Prahm.
The campaign to buy Lopez a replacement bike (and another bike he can ride around town) was extremely successful – reaching its $4,000 goal in 28 hours. (Lopez’s original bike was valued at $3,000 but his family received a grassroots deal and his family paid roughly $1,900 for the bike.)
While countless people contributed $50 and an occasional $100 to the fund, the Bike Dawgs head coach, Jon Francis, fielded several e-mails and calls from other Northern California league teams representing Drake High School, Redwood High, Trojan Racing from El Dorado county and others. Also, several community members offered to donate bikes and a few generous individuals offered to buy Lopez a new bike. But the generosity didn’t stop there.
Specialized, the Bike Dawgs sponsor, offered to replace the stolen bike. Marin Bikes offered a loaner bike for the season. San Rafael Mike’s Bikes employees offered their personal bikes for Lopez to train on.
Now, team officials are still figuring out how to respond to all the generosity and to possibly funnel some of it to bike racing teams who could use it the most.
One thing’s certain — Lopez definitely will be able to participate in an upcoming race. Mack said he will hand over the Indiegogo campaign money to the team to let the coaches purchase Lopez’s new bike. Discussions are still underway between Francis and Specialized to see what else could be done to help the team or others.
“While we’re incredibly appreciative of their offer, the Dawgs coaches felt there were likely other teams more in need,” Prahm said. “ … the gist is many people are helping out, and we're trying to see how more people can benefit from this outpouring of community support.”
Meanwhile, Lopez, who was especially overwhelmed with all the attention, is looking for ways to give back to the community. He is exploring volunteer opportunities in town.
Patch will continue to follow this story as organizers decide how to use donations. Also, look for a story next week on bike theft prevention.
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