'I had a bond with that bike' - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

'I had a bond with that bike'

Special Olympian's sole mode of transportation stolen

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Posted: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 12:15 am | Updated: 10:47 am, Fri Nov 16, 2012.

It was Nathan Smalley's usual routine.

As the rain shelled down on Wednesday, the stocky man hefted his bicycle tohis shoulder and descended the three flights of stairs from his Coeur d'Alene apartment to the street.

He wasn't worried about getting wet as he pedaled to work, he said.

"I'm used to riding in the weather, even the snow," Smalley said, the words slow but sure. "You've got to be tough."

It was a little harder to be stoic, though, because Smalley was missing a friend.

A bike, in truth. His bike, a 24-speed Mongoose with dual suspension and disc brakes, which the Special Olympian bought at a steal and had relied on not just for training and competing, but also as his sole mode of transportation.

Smalley discovered the bike stolen last Thursday morning, he said. Only the broken lock remained where he had stored the bike outside his apartment door, on the third level of the outdoor stairwell.

"You don't know how much I was hurt when I found my bike gone," said the 33-year-old, who has been saving up to buy a car. "It's like someone else finding out their car had been taken."

Smalley is mentally disabled and has competed in the Special Olympics since his elementary years, he said. He currently competes in cycling and alpine skiing, and has a box full of gold, silver and bronze medals, two from the 2009 World Winter Games in Boise.

"Nathan rides his bike everywhere, not only during practice," confirmed Heather Erikson, northern Idaho regional director for the Special Olympics. "He has been competing in cycling for several years and is always fun to watch. It is a shame his bike was taken."

The competitor, who said he trains with all-day bike rides on the Centennial Trail, has pursued every avenue to track down his metal steed.

He has contacted the police, bought a classified ad in The Press, posted photos of the bike on Facebook.

"The problem is, my bike could be in Washington by now," Smalley said.

Granted, his brother Donald McElfresh in Spokane just bought Nathan a new Genesis bike, a shining blue-and-white machine that Smalley is grateful to ride to his job as a dishwasher at The Coeur d'Alene Resort.

But it's like adjusting to a new car after commuting every day in one you know, Smalley said.

The Genesis is a 21 speed, and doesn't brake as well as the Mongoose. Smalley is worried to compete on it at the state summer games in Boise at the end of the month, he said.

"I'd have to use it, but I wish I had my old bike," Smalley said. "It's not the same as riding a Mongoose."

And Smalley, who has a kindly look with a balding scalp and glasses, loved the old bike, he said.

He bought it in 2010 for just $300 during a visit to Louisiana. He became familiar with the bike's feel and temper in their travels together, tracing the streets of Coeur d'Alene.

"I had a bond with that bike," he said.

Smalley had also procured the bike with money gifted to him by his mother, he added, who passed away in 2009.

Speaking of it on Wednesday, he turned to hide brimming tears.

"Me and my mom were close," Smalley said. "I depended on her, and she depended on me."

His brother said he isn't surprised by his brother's sense of loss.

"He does cling to that past bike, because of what it means to him, because of how it was purchased," McElfresh said. "It's kind of like a gift from her to him, as one of those last things."

Smalley stores his current bike indoors, he said, a precaution he hadn't thought necessary before.

He just hopes the photos of his bike online will spark someone's memory, he said.

And maybe he'll end up back in the familiar seat, poised to compete, poised to carry on.

"I'm still hoping that someone out there can look at Facebook and say, 'Hey, I recognize that bike,'" he said.

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  • DEADTIME posted at 12:14 am on Wed, Jun 20, 2012.

    DEADTIME Posts: 11

    Bet ya anything it was some Spokane loadies, if they shut down the roads between here and Spokane crime would drop at least 50 percent. I feel so sorry for this man, but his bike is in a Spokane pawn shop.

  • USCITIZEN posted at 8:35 am on Tue, Jun 19, 2012.

    USCITIZEN Posts: 12

    Just chop his fingers off? Not enough. Both his or her hands might be better.

  • mister d posted at 7:36 am on Tue, Jun 19, 2012.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    It's sad there is scum like this crook running around CDA. Hopefully someone turns him in.

  • I Carry posted at 7:27 am on Tue, Jun 19, 2012.

    I Carry Posts: 382

    I was thinking of more then chopping his fingers off. Really! No, I mean it!!!
    Mr. Smalley, I hope you ride like the wind and do well in eveything you attempt. Good on you.

  • concernedcitizen posted at 6:50 am on Tue, Jun 19, 2012.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    Find the perp a chop his fingers off. That will make it harder for the perp to steal again.

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