Santa Rosa’s Trek bike store replaces Ironman racer’s stolen ride and restores her faith
Marisa Denison hadn’t set foot in Santa Rosa before arriving Thursday evening for the Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa with her husband David. It had been a long drive from Mapleton, Utah.
They parked in a garage near the Santa Rosa Plaza mall and scoped out downtown. As they visited Ironman Village on Old Courthouse Square and picked up pizza, they figured the three cable locks securing their two bicycles - worth a combined $18,000 at purchase - would be sufficient to keep them safe on the car.
Two hours later, back at the garage, their hearts stopped. The cables were cut, and the bikes - a high-end triathlon bike for her, a mountain bike for him - were gone - stolen. Marisa now lacked the wheels she needed for the course’s 56-mile bike ride, and the race was just over a day away.
“We literally stood there and just cried,” she said. “I drove all the way here, I trained all those hours and hours and hours for this race, and - it’s over.”
Devastated, they called police and heard that it would be tough sledding to recoup the bikes. They made plans to rent and showed up at the Trek Bicycle store on Mendocino Avenue about 10 a.m. Friday, hoping beyond hope there was something that would work.
There wasn’t, and Marisa said she started crying, explaining what had happened. Sales associate Brianna Peebles called a couple of her supervisors, initially thinking Trek might let her borrow a floor model for the Ironman. Then store manager Matt Roark went a big step further, offering Marisa an Émonda SLR 6 road bike - and not just for Saturday’s race, but for keeps.
The Denisons were shocked: Not only would Marisa be able to compete, she’d get to do it on a top-of-the-line bicycle she estimated at about $5,000 that she could take with her back to Utah.
“My husband and I were just sobbing in the store. We made a scene,” Denison said. “I’ve never seen such generosity in my whole life.”
The store’s employees sized her for the bike and set it up for her, and she walked off the lot with a brand-new ride after shelling out just over $100 for accessories.
Roark and Peebles were matter-of-fact about the encounter with a pair of crestfallen strangers.
“I saw an opportunity to take care of somebody,” Roark said, adding that if such an experience was his first bite of Santa Rosa, “I’d have a bad taste in my mouth.”
The entirety of Denison’s experience with the bike prior to the race was three laps around Trek’s parking lot. She dashed out of Lake Sonoma early Saturday and hopped on for the real deal en route to a 5 hour, 53 minute finish - good enough for 20th out of ?85 in her age group. Trek staffers cheered her on remotely via Ironman’s online athlete-tracking service.
“This is what bike stores are supposed to do,” Peebles said. “We’re just supposed to help people and keep people on bikes.”
Denison stopped by Trek after the race to express her gratitude and snap a picture with Peebles and Roark. The entire experience, from theft to thank-you, has been a life-defining experience, Denison said.
“There are some jerks out there, and some dishonest thieves,” she said. “But there are good people in this world.”
You can reach Staff Writer Will Schmitt at 707-521-5207 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @wsreports.