Edmonton

Stranded in Hinton: Community raises money to replace cycle tourist's stolen bike

A Japanese tourist cycling through Alberta has been overwhelmed by the support of Hinton residents after his custom bike was stolen.

Masaaki Yoshino’s bike was stolen Jan. 19

After a longer stay in Hinton, Alta. than expected, Masaaki Yoshino will continue his cycling trip to Los Angeles after residents raised money to replace his custom bike. (Richard Marion/Radio-Canada)

A Japanese tourist cycling through Alberta said he's been overwhelmed by the support of Hinton residents after his custom bike was stolen.

Masaaki Yoshino, who is in the middle of a long-term cycling journey, was stunned when he discovered the bicycle missing on Jan. 19. Yoshino had locked the bike outside his hotel the night before. 

"I couldn't think. Everything was so blanked out," Yoshino said through a translator.

Yoshino's trip started in Anchorage, Alaska in August. He planned to spend three months in Alaska, three months in Canada and another three in the United States. He stopped in Hinton to take a break from the extreme cold temperatures the province was experiencing.

The touring bike of Masaaki Yoshino sits along a highway before it was stolen outside of a hotel in Hinton, Alta. (Masaaki Yoshino)

Without another form of transportation, Yoshino found himself suddenly stranded in an unfamiliar community. 

But news of the theft of his custom bike, which is a little longer than most, had made its way around the town. Hinton resident Courtney Lovestrom said she related to Yoshino's situation as her boyfriend takes part in cycling trips and she's helped touring cyclists before.

She wanted to cheer up Yoshino and show him sites and hidden gems in and around the town.

"I hated the thought of him perceiving Hinton to be a negative part in his trip, so I wanted to do anything I could to change that," said Lovestrom. 

That effort eventually turned into a crowdfunding campaign, which has raised more than $4,500 — the cost of replacing the custom bike. Some residents created posters for Yoshino, while others offered gift certificates.

"One bad person is not equivalent to the 100-plus people that have stepped up to help," Lovestrom said. "The scale is definitely far greater with good than it is negative. Hinton's wonderful. It's a really wonderful community."

Courtney Lovestrom helped to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to replace Masaaki Yoshino's stolen custom bike. (Richard Marion/Radio-Canada)

Yoshino has been impressed and overwhelmed by the number of people willing to help him.

For now, he will be staying with Lovestrom. She and her partner plan to take him to Jasper this weekend, where he hopes to buy a replacement bike before continuing his trip to Los Angeles.

"It's my dream," Yoshino said.

Yoshino said he learned two things through his ordeal: that Hinton is worth a stop, and that he should use three locks on his bike instead of the one he previously used.

About the Author

Travis McEwan

Videojournalist

Travis McEwan is a video journalist, who has not won any awards. Originally from Churchill, Manitoba, he's spent the last decade working at CBC Edmonton. Email story ideas to travis.mcewan@cbc.ca