A Stolen Bike, Rustic Farm, and Successful GoFundMe


I wanted to title this post something like: “How to crowdfund $1500 in… 1 day/while sleeping in a 1950’s VW Vagabond bus/while WWOOFing.” But that would be dishonest and misleading, because I have no idea how to do that, I just know that it happened. A long series of events and circumstances allowed it to take place that may just as well of been out my control. But this story didn’t begin with making money faster than I ever have before. It began…
On a pretty normal night in San Diego when I decided to go to the climbing gym to workout and boulder around. I rode through the city, zipping off the line at stoplights and gliding around cars nimbly without the normal heavy load. It feels so freeing to ride a bike without the panniers on the back. From 7 – 8:30 I was in the climbing gym, tearing up my baby skinned fingertips and reveling in burning forearms for the first time in a while.

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My bike was locked up outside, with a cable lock I knew was inadequate, in a dimly lit parking lot I naively assumed to be safe. I didn’t check on it once while I was inside, even though the thought crossed my mind but I thought that was paranoid. So when I walked out and saw that my bike was gone, my heart sank. My mind raced and words were hard to form. I sat on the floor in the hallway entrance and filed a police report, sent texts to my parents, and Judd (whose house I was staying at) asking for a ride back. Grabbing my single pannier I walked down the streets, eyeing down every bike that I passed with the hopes the person would be foolish enough to stay close or leave it in the open. No dice. I bought a 375mL of whiskey and a caesar salad from a place in “Little Italy” then took swigs from a brown bag and ate outside, trying to suppress my feelings. But nonetheless, these feelings of disbelief, shock, anger, sadness, and doubt swirled in my brain as I watched the cars and people pass by.

But enough doom and gloom, this story doesn’t end in drunken sadness at 3am, it moves right past it.  The next day I had scheduled to go WWOOF nearby in Valley Center, a small town about 50 miles away. If you don’t know what WWOOF is, it stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and is a network of farms that have work-exchange opportunities where you can volunteer your time and work in exchange for food and shelter. I sure as hell wasn’t going to just sit around in San Diego and mope, so I picked up my two panniers and walked to the bus station the next morning. City full of thieves! Out to the countryside and avocado groves!

The farm was situated in a dusty and hilly valley with a flowing creek running down the middle. There were numerous old trailers, an Earthship music studio, and small outdoor kitchen where the other 4 volunteers and I hung out and cooked together. I slept on an old mattress in a really old mobile home for two nights before I decided to move to the Vagabond bus. Some rats kept me awake one night while they scurried in the walls behind my head, sounding like they were right by my bedside. I met a bunch of great people staying out there, we cooked lunches on an open fire in cast iron pans, we called it gruel and it always consisted of beets, kale, and chard grown right there- tossed in turmeric, cumin, chili powder, and salt. I worked with a Quebecan building a steel shade structure, carrying heavy beams up and down hills and cranking wrenches on rusted bolts. I didn’t shower for seven days, and got dirty and sweaty every day. It was kind of gross but also pretty glorious. We played music on the numerous breaks and I got to mess around on the drum set for the first time in a while too.

A day after getting there, Judd had sent me some texts saying that he had got in contact with a bike shop who could sell me everything “at-cost” and suggested that I start a GoFundMe. Here is my campaign. I shared it on Facebook, then my friends shared it, strangers shared it, people were emailed, donations started coming in and by the next night all the money was raised. At the farm I didn’t have cell service unless I ran to the top of the hill, so I checked it about three times throughout the day and was amazed at how fast it picked up momentum. I’ve seen way more important sounding fundraisers get no support, so I really didn’t expect much. It was a great feeling to have so much support from friends, family, and strangers. When I met the goal, I transferred the money to my account and at the end of the week went to the bike shop and spent all of it to replace my bike and the gear that was on it. Here I am below, with a brand new bike leaving my Dad’s friend John’s house ready to head up the coast to San Francisco. Cheesing into the bright sun.

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