Update: As of 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 27, community members had contributed more than $1,400 toward a fund with a $4,000 goal on IndieGogo to help Ulysses Lopez buy a replacement bike and a “townie” bike he could ride around the city so he does not have to leave his race bike locked up. Check Patch in the near future for a follow up article on the community outreach, or sign up for our daily newsletter so you won’t miss it.
It hasn’t been easy for San Rafael High School Sophomore Ulysses Lopez to pursue his mountain biking passion.
The San Rafael native and his family could barely afford the helmet, gloves, bike glasses, shoes and — ultimately — the mountain bike he needed to be a member of the San Rafael High School Mountain Bike Team Bike Dawgs.
“The biggest problem with the team is that it’s the most expensive sport in the school,” Lopez said. “We don’t have a lot of money and asking for a bike is a lot.”
His single mother agreed to help Lopez finance his bike, and they’ve made it work so Lopez could continue his favorite activity.
But this week, Lopez was dealt a gut-wrenching blow when his mountain bike was stolen around 4 p.m. on Monday while he was attending one of his team’s classes at Pelo Cycling and Fitness, at 171 3rd Street.
Two people saw someone on a skateboard approach Lopez’s bike, cut the lock’s cable and ride away with it. One of the witnesses unsuccessfully pursued the thief.
The San Rafael Police took a report of the theft on Monday evening, someone with the police department confirmed.
“My main concern was how my mom would react to the situation,” Lopez said. “I was really upset and disappointed at the same time.”
The bike is valued at $3,000. Jon Francis, the mountain bike team head coach, said Lopez received a grassroots deal and his family paid roughly $1,900 for the bike.
Lopez said his mother still has months of regular payments left to pay for the black and red 2012 Specialized Stumpjumper Comp. The carbon-fiber bike with white markings also has a brain fork, which is unusual for that model and might help bike savvy individuals notice it on the streets, according to Francis.
Unless his bike is found, Lopez, who everyone on the team calls “Uly,” won’t be able to participate in the rest of the scheduled races of the season.
“Mountain biking is my life,” Lopez said. “But since someone stole my bike it feels like they took a big part of me and destroyed it.”
Viji Vierke, a mother of a another student on Bike Dawgs, became close with Lopez last year while helping him with transportation to and from races. “He is so sweet and polite and one of the best kids I know. Even the guys at Mike’s Bikes love him,” she said. “He works hard and did so great at the races with his bike.”
Lopez said on Sunday, Feb. 24, he was in a 26-person race at the Granite Bay Challenge in Granite Bay, near Sacramento, and came in 17th place.
Vierke said the team is a volunteer-run operation and is “maxed out on funds,” but they are hoping to find someone to help sponsor Lopez if his bike doesn't show up.
Lopez said he has already been keeping a close eye on Craigslist and other sites to see if anyone is trying to sell his bike.