Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

August 16, 2013

Community bike ride sabotaged by 'tack attack'

Over 30 bicyclists on Nickel Plate Trail suffered flat tires.

By Carson Gerber Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — DENVER — Over 30 bicyclists, including young children, participating in a community bike ride ended up with flat tires Saturday morning after officials say someone sabotaged the bicycle path with nails and tacks.

Miami County deputies are investing the incident that occurred during the Le Tour de Denver — a bike ride along the Nickel Plate Trail held during the annual Denver Days festival in northern Miami County.

Shannon See, co-owner of Breakaway Bike and Fitness Shop in Peru, which sponsored the event, said they discovered the trail had been sabotaged when rider after rider began showing up with flat tires at a water stop along the trail.

Event and trail officials eventually located hundreds of the tacks and nails in a concentrated area where the trail intersects 1200 North, just south of Macy.

“When I saw it, I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding,’” See said. “It was shocking.”

Zach See, co-owner of the bike shop, said the nails had been coated in motor oil so they blended in with the asphalt. He said the oil would also make it easier for the tacks to penetrate bike tires.

He said he believed it was a planned attack on the bike ride, and not just a casual prank.

“This wasn’t kids doing mailbox baseball,” he said.

Zach See said one of the victims was a young girl who had two flat tires after riding over the tacks. Out of the 105 bike riders participating in the event, more than 30 had flat tires, he said.

“I was mad,” he said. “This was a bike ride that was just supposed to be fun.”

Shannon See said after the nails were discovered, bike riders banded together to help out, donating tire tubes and patch kits they brought with them and fixing every flat tire on the trail.

Breakaway Bike shop also shipped up tubes and repair kits to get everyone back on the road.

“Everyone helped everyone,” she said. “No one was left behind. It was fantastic support by the riders and the community.”

Zach See said one couple ended up stranded on a county road after their tires slowly leaked air and went flat, but a Denver man offered them a ride and drove them back into town.

“People turned this into a good thing,” he said. “Everyone rolled with the punches, because being mad and griping wasn’t going to fix anything.”

He said most bikers ended up finishing the ride despite the sabotaged trail.

Since the incident, Breakaway Bike Shop has donated tubes and repairs to anyone affected by the attack, and reimbursed riders who donated items to get other riders up and running.

“People come in and say they want to pay, but I say ‘No, just let us do this. It’s not your fault,’” Zach See said.

And if deputies discover the person responsible for what he calls the “tack attack,” Zach See said he would say this to them: “Why? What did you think you’d accomplish? What you intended to hurt us only brought us together and made us stronger.”

In an email the bike shop sent out to Le Tour de Denver participants titled “I Survived the Tack Attack!,” Zach and Shannon See wrote, “Everyone was so willing to help each other and donate their own tubes, patch kits, pumps and experience. We want to thank you for leaving no one behind. We are honored to call you our cycling friends and family. Good prevailed in the end!”

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.