Bryan Nielsen gave his motorized trike a once-over when it was returned to his Kenmore home over the weekend after being stolen in broad daylight from a bike rack outside Aldi on Elmwood Avenue.
"There are little things broken," he said, pointing to a wire dangling from the brake light. The three-wheeled Schwinn was locked to a bike rack Thursday afternoon when it was taken while Nielsen shopped.
It was returned to him Saturday by a WIVB-TV news crew after Juan Hernandez contacted the station to report he had bought the missing adult tricycle for $100 from someone at the corner of Hertel Avenue and Niagara Street.
"He wanted it for his wife, but she said no, that it had been all over social media and TV as stolen," Nielsen said while sitting on the trike in his backyard Sunday afternoon.
Nielsen met Hernandez Saturday when the trike was returned. It is Nielsen's third cycle in eight years.
"It's been a complex project," Nielsen said. "When I first moved here eight years ago, I had a simple Schwinn trike that I pedaled, but I couldn't really go far. I didn't go electric until two or three years ago."
Nielsen, 42, can travel up to 30 mph on his trike, he said, "but I don’t usually go more than 20. It helps me to be less of an obstacle. I ride with the crutches hanging out the basket."
The traumatic brain injury Nielsen suffered after an auto accident in 2004 affected his speech, balance and his body's ability to regulate temperature. His cognitive skills remained razor sharp, he said.
Nielsen studied radiologic technology in college. Next month, he will attend his son's high school graduation, near Waterloo.
Lately he has been experimenting with baking sourdough bread, tinkering with the recipe. On Sunday afternoon, the dough was rising in his kitchen while Nielsen got some fresh air outside.
"The bike's return was a boost for him, to know that people – total strangers – would come out of the woodwork to help us," said Joyce Kryszak, his mother.
That started on Friday, the day after his trike was stolen. Police officers showed up at his door with another trike.
"The police pulled someone over because they saw a trike in the back of his pickup," Nielsen said. "The guy ended up giving it to me after he heard my story."
Nielsen in turn gave that trike to Hernandez for his wife.
"I can see why Buffalo is a city of good neighbors," Nielsen said. "It was a very nice surprise."