To the person who stole my bike tire, I hope it takes you far in life

When I came home for lunch Wednesday, I noticed that the rear tire of my mountain bike was missing. The bike was locked to a rack outside my apartment, and I assumed the thief incorrectly thought that taking off the rear tire would free the rest of bike.

I’ve experienced worse thefts. In college, my car was broken into, and hundreds of CDs, expensive speakers and a CD player were stolen. Several years later, I made the mistake of leaving my work laptop in the backseat of my car overnight. An opportunistic passer-by armed with a brick shattered one of the rear windows and took the laptop, once again leaving me with a broken window to fix.

Those crimes I can somewhat understand. Used CDs, speakers, a laptop — all are easy to sell for some quick cash. But a used tire from a dirty mountain bike?

I went to the shop where I bought my bike to get an estimate for replacing the tire. Bummer man, was their response, in a nutshell. A new tire will set me back $150, and that’s if they don’t find anything else that’s broken.

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At least they left the front tire.


Reporting the theft to the cops seemed like a waste of a time, but a contact of mine who works in law enforcement advised me to do it anyway, on the off chance my tire turns up somewhere.
I called dispatch, and within 10 minutes an officer called to get my information. He took my name, number, address and asked what happened. No, I didn’t see it happen. No, I don’t have any idea who did it.

He didn’t ask for a description of the tire (it has a lime green stripe that makes it stand out), which seemed odd since there are a lot of mountain bikes in the Black Hills.

Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll get called down to the police department one afternoon and they’ll roll in a bunch of tires confiscated from the streets. “Not it. Not it. Hmmm, maybe … Can you roll it closer, so I can see it under the light?”

So, to the person who stole my tire, enjoy it man. It probably needs some air so tread lightly, especially if you’re using it to build a unicycle. Those probably went out of style in 1916, but vinyl is cool again so you never know.

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A devil of a hike

“How much farther do we have to go?” a young boy asked, as he passed me with his family while I descended from Little Devils Tower, elevation 6,908 feet.

“Is it like 35 feet?”

“Thirty-five plus a couple of zeros,” I responded.

His dad chucked, but the kid didn’t get my joke. “You still have a ways to go,” I told him.

Perhaps it was the elevation. Perhaps my lungs are still recovering from five years in Beijing, which at times felt like living in a smoking lounge. Perhaps I’m just out of shape.

The Black Hills, in southwestern South Dakota, is full of beautiful rock formations.

The trail to Little Devils Towers is around 3 miles out and back.

People come from all over the world to rock climb in the Black Hills.

Whatever the reason, I had to stop several times to catch my breath along the winding and rocky path to the summit of Little Devils Tower, one of the highest peaks in the Black Hills. The occasional breaks allowed me to take in the magnificent giant rock formations, which jut into the sky from the mountaintop.

The name of the place, Little Devils Tower, is misleading because there’s really nothing little about it. At nearly 7,000 feet, it’s one of the highest points in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains.

On a clear day, it is said you can see more than 100 miles out onto the horizon from the highest peaks in the Black Hills.

Little Devils Tower is located in Custer State State Park.

The skies were mostly clear when I visited. From the summit, you can see the spot where the hilly terrain ends and the high plains begin.

The last leg of the journey to the top is the most difficult. The dirt trail gives way to rocks and boulders, and I had to pause a few times to figure out the best way to climb over them safely. A series of blue markers posted on tree trunks and rocks help you stay on the path, but it’s easy to get sidetracked if you’re not paying attention.

A view from the summit, elevation nearly 7,000 feet.

From the trailhead, I was able to reach the summit within a couple of hours. It’s an easy hike to finish in an afternoon, unless, of course, you’ve got a kid in tow who asks “Are we there yet?” every 35 feet.