GUTHRIE, Okla. - A Guthrie man, well-known around town for riding his bicycle, is without wheels.
"That bike was Justin,” Guthrie Bike Shop owner Kent Denham said. “They were two of a kind."
Most around town know Justin and the bright yellow vintage bike he has been riding for years.
"Part of it is for good health, but also it really does make a difference in how you get to know your community,” Justin Fortney said. “It's a lot easier to stop and talk to somebody if you're on a bicycle than locked up in your car."
Justin does have a car, but would rather ride his bike.
"I do own a vehicle, yes, but I prefer a bicycle most of the time,” he said.
Rain or shine, in the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter, he rides.
"Justin is the bike guy in Guthrie, and he's a very serious commuter,” Denham said.
"Their first perception of me is the guy who rides around on a bicycle, even when it's Oklahoma summer heat or ice cold winters,” Justin said. “I'm usually still riding."
But he’s not today, because someone stole his bike seconds after he walked into a local business, leaving his bike just outside the door.
"As soon as we walk in the door my son says, 'Dad, that guy just took off on your bicycle.’ At first I thought he was kind of joking, but then I saw the look on his face,” Justin said.
Justin chased after the young man but soon tuckered out. His bike was long gone.
"I ran after him a couple blocks, but I think my brain thought I was still 16 years old,” Justin said. “I got pretty close to him, then he looked over his shoulder and realized some oldie is running after him. Then he took off, and fast."
Several friends and even strangers got together and raised enough money to buy Justin a new bike but his old one is irreplaceable.
"It's a vintage 70s Schwinn.,” he said. “ It's hard to hide, because it's bright yellow and large."
But at the Guthrie Bike Shop, they are giving it a whirl and rebuilding a similar one. The thief may have taken Justin’s bike, but not all is lost.
"My 12-year-old son is there with me and for him to just see somebody run off with his dad's bike, I think that was a little bit of a shock for him,” Justin said. "It was cool for my son to see that he lives in a community where people take care of each other."
If you see a bike that could be Justin’s, call Guthrie Police.