SAN DIEGO - A veteran in the middle of an epic cross-country journey on his bicycle is now in a holding pattern in San Diego after his bicycle was stolen.
Matthew Jarrett's custom-made road bike has taken him more than 6,500 miles across the country this year.
Jarrett is an Army veteran who served in Iraq and his ride across the United States and back is to raise awareness of veterans' suicide.
"Vet Ride for Life, TransAmerica Ride for Life … and I thought, why don't I put the suicide awareness message in there and through the ride, it can generate awareness of it?" he said.
He started in Virginia and has traveled through Canada, Colorado, Oregon, Montana and made his latest stop in San Diego on Friday. He never thought this stop would be his last.
"It went through my mind, 'Should I take my bike in?' And I thought, 'Well, I have two locks on it, I'm not going to be in for long,'" he said.
Jarrett locked up his bike outside a Dick's Sporting Goods store. He was only in the store for a few seconds but it was just one second too long.
"My first thought was … did I go out a wrong door?" he said. "And then it was kind of … my heart just sunk to my feet."
He called the police and walked around the area over and over looking for the bike. He even went in the store and asked if they had security cameras, but no luck. He felt helpless. The bike was gone.
"I was a couple blocks into walking back," he said. "You know, I had my bike helmet on and this little girl goes, 'Aren't you supposed to be on a bike?' … I felt so hopeless."
Now on foot, Jarrett is hoping the bike will be returned. He has had too many memories to just let the bike go.
"You think, oh, a bicycle," he said."I've had people message me, 'Get another one, continue on' … well, no."
Jarrett was heading into the desert across Arizona next, but now is not sure if he will continue. He is renting a car and heading home to Colorado.
10News spoke with Jarrett on Monday morning and he says his bike is still missing. However, he said people have begun to offer donations so he can build a new bike and continue his journey.