Cross-country cyclist gets a rude welcome from S.F. bike thieves

After cycling for six months and covering 6,255 miles in a 14-state cross-country trip from Florida to California to spread awareness about global hunger, Andrew Marinelli finally arrived in sunny San Francisco earlier this month only to be greeted with what's becoming known as the "San Francisco Hello": His bike was stolen.

The 26-year-old South Carolina native was cycling to raise money for the United Nations Food Program after a two-year stint in the Peace Corps. He told SF Weekly that prior to this, his travels had been limited to east of the state of Mississippi and added that he had expected some petty theft in most big cities — he passed through places like Miami, Denver, and Seattle — but had no trouble until he hit this one. "At least I made it to my destination," he said.

Little did he know that his destination happened to make the Kryptonite bike lock company's "Top 10 Worst Cities for Bike Theft" list for more than a decade.

Marinelli said the bike was yanked while he was enjoying an early evening workout at 24-Hour Fitness at Montgomery and Sutter. It had been locked using a cable across the street from the gym (he admitted he probably should have used a better lock). "The first time they got on [the bike] they probably fell off, because the thing is so frickin' tall," he said, adding that he's around 6-foot-9.

"I just hope [the thieves] know what they got their hands on," he said of his much-traveled bicycle. "That thing has a pretty rich history."

Despite the unfortunate experience, Marinelli still wants to move to San Francisco and is planning on doing so soon. No doubt he'll come armed with a U-lock this time. But before that, he'll be returning to South Carolina by plane this week (luckily he hadn't planned to ride back). Still, he says he's disappointed, because he wanted to ride his bike around the city and now will have to take public transport instead.

That is, unless S.F. police catch the thieves and return his two-wheeler.

"Yeah, right — I don't have that much naiveté," he said.

 
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