EUGENE, Ore. -- A Virginia man in a cross-country bicycle race is headed to the finish line thanks to the community after his bike was stolen in Eugene Monday morning.
For Ben Madden, the bike's owner, the thief didn't just take his bike but his chances of finishing in first place.
“He's was like digging in my stuff man. That makes me really angry,” Madden said.
Madden's bike was stolen from outside the Safeway on Coburg Road after he left it unlocked. He's since bought a new, less expensive bike.
Madden said travel brings out the best and worst of people, and here in Eugene he's experienced both.
Since learning about the theft, many have come to help him cross the finish line. Local businesses, including SportHill and Life Cycle Bike Shop, gave him discounts and even free gear. Jim Hill of SportHill said he's had not one but two bikes stolen in Eugene and knows how it feels.
“Eugene is a great town,” Hill said. “It's great for cyclists, it's great for runners and I think this bike theft problem is kind of like a blight we have, but that's not Eugene, that's not who people in Eugene are.”
Madden said a local man even let him stay at his house overnight, and a stranger also found some of his stolen gear on a bike path. While Madden is now behind in the race, he still plans to finish.
“I'm absolutely finishing this race,” Madden said. “I may come in last place, maybe second to last place. I'm the guy who got his bike stolen and finished the race. That's all I want to be known as."
Madden said with all the new gear, he'll be heading out tonight or early tomorrow morning.
Eugene police are asking the public to be on the lookout for the stolen bike and trailer, as well as the adult white male suspect, who was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, baggy black pants and a brown baseball cap. The suspect and the bike were last seen near the KFC on River Road in Santa Clara. The bike is described as a Kestrel Model 4000 Pro SL and the trailer is a Burley Nomad with a yellow rain cover. If you see it or the suspect, call Eugene police.