Ultra-endurance racer Emily Chappell reveals bike theft in account of emotional rollercoaster victims will recognise

'After the initial tears, I went through a phase of calm reason', wrote Chappell, in a mourning process many riders will recognise

Emily Chappell riding bike
(Image credit: Future)

Ultra-endurance racer, Transcontinental winner and occasional Cycling Weekly contributor Emily Chappell (opens in new tab) has spoken about an "emotional rollercoaster" that far too many cyclists will recognise: the stages of coming to terms with bike theft.

Author and rider Chappell had not only her bike stolen, but also lost all of the equipment attached to it - which in her case was more extensive than most, including bikepacking bags, camping equipment, and her best cycling gloves.

Chappell shared images of the stolen Canyon Grizl on Instagram (opens in new tab), describing her journey through the stages of mourning for a stolen bike.

Referring to the experience as the "rollercoaster no one wants to ride" (but, far too many do), Chappell wrote: "After the initial tears, I went through a phase of calm reason. It’s only a bike, after all, not a piece of my soul. And there are worse moments this could have happened."

Having taken the pragmatic approach, she went on to observe the frustrating associated losses of bikepacking equipment (and snacks), noting: "far more annoying is having to replace my tools, my bags, my pedals, my waterproofs, all my camping equipment, and items of great sentimental value like the gloves a friend gave me, the Exposure light I won in the Strathpuffer, the casquette from a bike shop in Lausanne, and a bag of macadamia nuts I was looking forward to eating."

And then - in a realisation that will be familiar to many victims of bike theft - came the sadness.

"But then last night I found myself scrolling through photos, and realised just how many adventures this bike and I packed into the twelve months we spent together," Chappell wrote.

The Rapha and Canyon rider's list of adventures is greater than most will be able to purport to, including the Pennine Rally, sections of the GB Divide, the TransCambrian, the Torino-Nice Rally, as well as "hours exploring the trails and byways around Bristol."

In an ode to the stolen bike that many will be able to identify with, Chappell looked back over her short time with - what was presumably - her best gravel bike, highlighting quite how lifechanging a bicycle can be: "This bike has changed the way I ride, the places I go, and the routes I seek out. It’s helped me see the world differently (you get far better views from a tow path or farm track than you would from a main road), it’s challenged me as a rider, and it’s helped me feel at home in even more parts of the world than I did before."

Bidding goodbye, she added: "I will really miss it. Maybe after all it did become a piece of my soul."

Bike theft is worryingly common, and yet rarely addressed when it comes to transport planning policy

In the UK, 1,100 bikes are reported stolen each day. Statistics from the UK and US show that whilst 19% and 20% of victims report the loss of a bicycle to the police, only 5% of those stolen are returned each year.

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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.

Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor. 

Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.

Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.