Bixby on the cargo bike in Bixby, Oklahoma
Mike Minnick and his rescue dog Bixby have been on the road for three years. Minnick, a former bartender, said, "I wanted to change my life, so I packed up the truck and just left."
With no destination in mind, they took off from Austin, Texas. The inspiration for continuing their journey on a Yuba Mundo cargo bike came in Terlingua, Texas. There they met two brothers filming a documentary about their own cross-country bicycle ride.
In May 2013, Minnick and Bixby took off on their bicycle journey from Maine.
Minnick and Bixby in Key West
"My initial goal was to pedal 3000 miles,” Minnick said. “It wasn't until Miami that everything changed. There was media attention. It was then that I realized I had a platform. That's when I decided to visit a shelter in Key Largo. Even though the community was wealthy, it didn't support the shelter. This is when my focus shifted to shelter animals."
By the time the duo reached San Diego this month, Minnick had pedaled more than 9000 miles and through 31 states. The pair depends on the kindness of strangers to continue their travels, which is how they landed near the Mission Beach roller coaster on Jamaica Court.
Beach cruiser and bolt cutters left at the scene of the theft
The bike was kept in a garage with a door unable to close completely. Minnick discovered the bike missing at 4:00 a.m. on September 18. A beach cruiser with bolt cutters in its basket was abandoned at the scene. Also stolen were a GoPro camera, lights, Bixby's bed, a sleeping bag, an iPod, many gifted trinkets, and their rubber mascot "Chicken Charlie."
10News reporter Itica Milanes with Minnick and Bixby, after the bike's recovery
The day of the theft, Minnick provided photos of his bike to 10News reporter Itica Milanes, who interviewed him. Two days later, she recognized Minnick's bike being ridden by someone else as she left the airport on North Harbor Drive. She called police and an arrest was made.
Minnick said on September 20 that Bixby's bed was found next to a dumpster on Texas Street. Everything else is still missing.
"I'm so thrilled that we got our bike back and Bixby’s bed,” said Minnick. “I want to thank San Diego as a whole for embracing us and coming to our rescue when we were left stranded with no place to go."
Minnick's future plans involve a "Hug Your Dog" tour across America. He also plans to write a children's book about his travels with Bixby.
Minnick also said he plans to contact the suspect this week. On September 21 he said, "I don't know what caused him to steal my bike. I'd like to find out more about his situation. I want to forgive him and see if something positive can come out of this for him."