This article was originally published on March 22, 2013.
Members of the local cycling community gathered Thursday afternoon inside Mike’s Bikes in San Rafael to watch San Rafael sophomore Ulysses “Uly” Lopez receive a new mountain bike that was paid for by community members.
After Patch reported that Lopez’s racing bike had been stolen and Lopez and his mother couldn’t afford a replacement, Marin residents and members of the regional cycling community raised thousands of dollars for a new bike.
The soft-spoken Lopez, a member of San Rafael High School mountain bike team Bike Dawgs, was all smiles Thursday when Murphy Mack, a co-founder of Fairfax’s cyclist bar Gestalt Haus, rolled the bike up to Lopez for the first time. (See Lopez get his new bike in the above video.)
Mack, founder of the SF-based SuperPro Racing, decided to start an Indiegogo campaign to buy Lopez a replacement bike after reading the Feb. 27 article about the theft. The campaign reached its $4,000 goal in 28 hours. (Lopez’s original bike was valued at $3,000 but his family received a deal and his family paid roughly $1,900 for the bike.)
The replacement bike, a Specialized Stumpjumper, is a bit nicer than Lopez’s last racing bike, but the coaches decided on the replacement model because Lopez’s previous bike had a few upgrades.
“It’s important to know that [Lopez] didn’t ask for this,” said Bike Dawgs head coach Jon Francis. “He just wanted his bike back.”
Many others came forward to try to help Lopez. Specialized, the Bike Dawgs sponsor, offered to replace the stolen bike.
But instead of replacing the bike, organizers decided to ask the company to donate helmets to the Oakland Composite High School Mountain Bike Team, which could use the gratuity much more than the San Rafael team, even though the ‘Dawgs’ are, more or less, the underdogs of the Marin cycling teams. Specialized will, however, also donate a pop-up tent to the Bike Dawgs that they can use at their races.
“Uly didn’t want to take advantage of the situation,” said Brian Popplewell, who does field marketing for Bike’s Mikes.
The money raised from the Indiegogo campaign was used for the new bike to honor the wishes of the hundreds of donors.
Mike’s Bikes lead sales associate Tom Casson, who is the coach of the Monte Vista Mountain Bike Team, said it has been “cool to see the mountain biking community is stronger than all the thieves out there.”
Mike’s Bikes general manager Bike Coronis said Lopez had recently become very passionate about biking and would regularly come into the San Rafael shop for free weekly bike maintenance workshops.
Lopez, who was especially overwhelmed with the community response, has decided to give back to the community and volunteer more than his bike team requires. He will start volunteering at the local nonprofit Trips for Kids, which provides bikes for at-risk kids, on Wednesday and Saturdays, he said.
Marinites interested in cheering on the Bike Dawgs and other local bike teams can watch the Northern California and Southern California Mountain Biking League State Championships at Stafford Lake in Novato on Sunday, May 19.