Have you seen this bike?
I mean the one in the accompanying photo. Chances are if you were at the Winnipeg Folk Festival during the first three days, you saw Keith Dyck on his custom-crafted Harley-Davidson-styled chopper of a bicycle. He lent his time and an attached trailer to help other Folkies transport their gear around the Birds Hill campsite.
Or maybe you saw the long-haired bike rider pedalling around the area like an Easy Rider wannabe.
Hauling a fiddle-playing woman in the trailer. The woman was Miriam Neuman, a friend who plays in a band with Keith Neuman and who had a name for the bike.
She called it, "the Coolest Bicycle in the World." Keith had his one name for it, "the Bike of My Dreams." Now it's the missing bike of his nightmares.
That's because it took Keith Dyck three years to piece it together from a futon frame. But it took some woman at the Folk Fest less than a minute to steal it while he slept in a tent deep in the campsite bush early Saturday morning.
So much for Kumbaya.
So much for harmony, communal peace and leaving things unlocked at the Folk Fest.
Keith said he must have talked to a thousand people as he pedalled around the site on the first two days. He said a Mountie even stopped to admire the bike. As it turned out, there was at least one admirer too many.
Keith said he had turned in early Saturday morning after he parked his bike beside his tent, deep in the bush.
He figures someone must have tracked him to his campsite, because as he slept, his friends watched in shock as a woman jumped on the bike, wiped out and then took off before they realized she had just stolen Keith's prize possession.
"The thing has cost me at least $4,000 to date, not counting the time," Keith said over the phone Wednesday.
And, like the bike, that kind of investment is a big deal for a guy who makes his living mainly as a musician and jewelry-maker. He didn't tell me, but his bandmate Miriam did. "He just gave notice at his only regular job, one he has held for 12 years, as a live-in aide for a man who is in a wheelchair," she told me. "So, this is a really big deal as money is scarce and will be even scarcer when he leaves his job at the end of this month and starts a new chapter in his life moving in with the other love of his life, his girlfriend."
Clearly, the bike was the other love of his life, and it was about more than time, money or even its look.
"I started losing sleep over this idea that I could ride the bike of my dreams," Keith explained in a followup email.
"All I had to do was build it. I knew nothing of bicycles except how to ride them. I had no idea about how to do any of the work that lay ahead of me. (I) started with a life-size drawing on my wall. The back swing arm was constructed from old bikes by my friend, Kelly. The aluminum frame was cut and welded to more old bike parts by SCT Welding on Route 90. I spared no expense, as this was a labour of love. God, I've spent way too many hours on this thing.
"Every part custom-made by hand, and now I think I should have spent this time doing something else."
I get the feeling Keith doesn't really mean that. He needs even more time. He isn't finished building it.
He has a partially made fibreglass fender, a dashboard, a headlight and tail lights in his basement. Ultimately, he wants to transform his dream bike into his dream motorcycle.
As I was suggesting, losing the bike is about more than the time or money he's put into it. It's about the end of a dream, a feeling most of us can relate to.
But it's about even more for Keith.
"I built my dad's watch into the handlebars," Keith said. "He passed away almost two years ago."
As Miriam said on Wednesday, "It wasn't just going to be a cool bike, it was going to be an art piece and a sentimental monument to Keith's family and his past."
Who knows, maybe whoever took the bike of his dreams will find a way to return it. Maybe it was a joyriding lark, fuelled by booze, and when she woke up it didn't seem so funny after all.
At least, that's what I'm hoping.
But park police reported seeing a man in his 20s riding the bike with a young woman, leaving the park through the east gate heading north on Highway 206.
"I don't care who took it," Keith said. "I just want it back."
As I was asking at the outset...
Have you seen this bike?
Obviously, you can't miss it.
For sure not the way Keith does.