A group of Fort Bragg cyclists who affectionately call themselves the SOBs (Seniors on Bikes) were cycling Sherwood Road when they came upon a surprising sight: dozens of $100 bills littering the rural roadway. What followed was a tale of curiosity, investigation, and reunion when the SOBs played detective, helping a working man rediscover his lost nest-egg.
Philip Zwerling, a member of Fort Bragg’s Seniors on Bikes, said he and four compatriots headed out Sunday morning, September 7, for Glen Blair’s geological oddity, the mud pots. Susan, the lead cyclist, made a surprising U-Turn mid-ride, hopped off her bike, and “triumphantly held up a crisp new $100 bill she’d spotted on the side of the road,” Zwerling told us. “With some chagrin that the rest of us had missed this find, we graciously congratulated her on her good luck and continued our ride,” Zwerling said
Zwerling explained Susan’s lucky find soon became a windfall when “[a] few moments later and not more than 200 yards further on, around a turn, we stopped, awestruck by the sight of $100 bills everywhere!”
Zwerling described he and his companions “scampering around gathering up bills from the blacktop” finding “40 new $100 bills and a few old singles.” In their canvassing, an “assortment of bank cards, insurance cards, and a driver’s license” were also located. As the assemblage of SOBs inventoried their findings, Zwerling said they could not help but wonder, “Could it be drug money? Who else carried so much cash? How in the world did it end up scattered on the road?”
Tucking the findings into the spandex pockets of cyclist-wear, the contingent continued on to the “mini mud volcanos of Glen Blair.” As the SOBs walked amongst the mud-pots, Zwerling said they individually considered the fate of their newfound fortune: “$4,000 split 5 ways? A $100 bill to each of us as a finder’s fee? Take the wallet and the money, or just the wallet, to the police station?”
Upon return from the ride, the SOBs gathered at Susan’s to share a lunch where Zwerling said, they “examined the found wallet more closely.” They discovered the driver’s license belonged to a Eureka, California man who they imagined was a “drug dealer briefly visiting in Fort Bragg for a sale.” To further investigate this “felonious character,” Zwerling said the SOBs “played detective” and surprisingly found Pam, one of the SOBs, had a mutual friend with the imagined fiend on Facebook.
Pam proceeded to contact this mutual friend about the roadside discovery and found that the concocted El Chapo was, in fact, “a working stiff and not a drug dealer at all.” The mutual friend provided Pam a phone number, and within moments the SOBs made contact with him.
Zwerling said it “turns out he had had the cash in hand to buy a trailer to live in while he worked construction in Chico.”
Zwerling characterized connecting with the young man via Facebook “as astonishing as finding the money on the road in the first place.” A mere two hours after contacting the young man, Zwerling said he was “at Susan’s house to collect his loot and his wallet,” where the SOBs found him “relieved, happy, and grateful.”
The young man from Eureka regaled the SOBs with a tale of poor placement, leaving his wallet on the back of his flatbed truck, not realizing its absence until arriving in Ukiah, two hours down the road. Zwerling surmised, “We must have ridden by just a few minutes after his wallet went flying into the road, and the wind scattered its contents.”
Zwerling said the young man stayed at Susan’s and talked briefly and, upon leaving, hugged her, said goodbye, and as he walked toward his truck, “he turned back and said ‘bless you.’” Zwerling described the departure as “A lovely and fitting end to a very unusual day.”