Once upon a time a couple mountain bikes lived an adventurous life together, but unfortunately their lives ended too soon in similarly tragic circumstances – yes, this is not a joke but a story about two mountain bikes. The Green Pony was found on a messy floor of a local bike shop. He was laying in disarray, abandoned in a jungle of spare bicycle tires not knowing when and how, or even if he will ever be put together. His frame was a couple years outdated and no avid biker would look twice at his sorry paramilitary-green structure. The Green Pony while made of carbon fiber and having all the proper specs and geometry was simply no longer cool. All the new bikes had cables routed inside the frames, some even had secret compartments where a rider could store a multitool and a spare tube. Day after day, the Green Pony laid amongst bicycle parts, sad and not sure if he will ever experience the fun adventures that he was designed for.
But one day a girl came into the store and spoke to the owner. She was in the market for a new mountain bike – she wanted something unique, a boutique bike that was not commonly seen on the trails but her pockets weren’t deep enough to afford a brand-new machine — so she scouted local stores hoping for an amazing deal. The owner pointed to a line of less expensive Pivot bikes, but the girl was not impressed.
Being a curious one, she walked around the messy store and almost tripped over the Green Pony. If the Green Pony could animate, he would lasso his chain around the girl’s ankle. She was the first person in months who looked at him with curiosity. The Green Pony was overjoyed, he hoped that he could shine and capture attention.
“What’s this lonely thing on the floor?” The girl asked the owner.
“Oh! It’s a Salsa Pony-Rustler frame. I’ve had it a couple years. Someday, I might build it up,” replied the owner.
“How exactly would you spec out this bike?” The girl asked the shop owner.
The Green Pony could feel her inspecting gaze and he blushed in a lighter shade of the paramilitary-green.
The owner thought for a second, “It’s a plus bike, meaning 3.0 tires on a 27.5-inch rim, and I happen to have a couple Nobby Nic tires laying around. I’ll build the wheels myself, it’s my art — I like doing that more than servicing bikes. Let me think what I got laying around … DT Swiss rims, 350 Boost hubs, Competition black spokes, 34-millimeter Fox forks and a Fox rear suspension, and all SRAM: shifters, chain, cassette, breaks and crank. I’ll add a premium Chris King headset and bottom bracket, and a quality Fox dropper seat post. I’ll scrounge up other parts and make it a sweet bike for not too much money.”
The Green Pony was listening as the shop owner listed the parts. It all sounded great but the decision was not in the Green Pony’s handlebars, it was in the girl’s hands – only she could decide the Green Pony’s destiny. In his bicycle mind Green Pony promised if the girl picks him, he will perform his best for her and would love and appreciate her forever.
The girl was intrigued as she listened to the list of parts — this might be the right bicycle for her. The bike would be a quirky machine with custom handmade wheels and not an out-of-the-box unit — just what she was looking for. But this was a negotiation and the girl could not appear too eager so she looked and loitered — by the front door, leaning against the wall stood a paramilitary-green Salsa with a frame similar to the one laying on the shop floor.
She asked, “Is this bike the same to what you can build-up?”
The owner replied, “Yes, both frames are medium but this one is an out-of-the-box model. A client brought it in for service.”
“Since they are similar, could I try this one to see how the frame fits?” Asked the girl.
The Green Pony far in the back of the shop was trying his best to listen-in; he thought, if she is test riding a frame just like me, she must be interested. He hoped the geometry fit her and the girl would take him home.
The owner agreed to the test ride but asked for caution because this was not his inventory but someone else’s bike. The girl rode the bike and it felt good. The plus tires offered an extra cushion, provided for a smooth ride, and compensated for her lack of skill.
She took the bike back and asked the owner, “If I buy that old frame on the floor, would you cut me a good deal?”
The owner of the shop thought for a few seconds and replied, “I do need to clean up around here and get rid of superfluous stuff, so yah, I can cut you a good deal. Give me some time, I’ll put the bill of materials together and email you a quote. I want to make sure that I’m not missing any parts for the bike.”
When the Green Pony heard that he was equally excited and concerned. What if the shop owner is missing parts? Oh! No, she won’t be able to buy me.
“OK,” replied the girl, “no rush, if you can get all the parts and if the price is right, I’m definitely interested,” she said, smiled at both the Green Pony and the owner, and sashayed out of the store.
This was still a negotiation but the girl felt like she found a good bike and perhaps a good deal.
In the meantime on the other side of town, the girl’s boyfriend was also hoping to upgrade his bike. For many years the boy rode a red and black Specialized Epic but his riding skills outgrown the older technology. He wanted to be safer when tackling obstacles and 32-millimeter forks with limited travel were simply not enough — he needed to upgrade. But the boy wasn’t a big spender so he scoured the Internet hoping to score a deal. After weeks of searching, he found a new-used Specialized, a purple – no, blue – no, violet Stump Jumper. Wait – the bike was a chameleon, depending on the angle of the sun the color morphed from purple to blue to violet and then blue again. It was a beautiful carbon fiber machine with Fox FSR suspension, SRAM Eagle GX components and custom 29-inch wheels with knobby tires. The boy was ecstatic and quickly completed his purchase.
The two bikes came together and both the girl and the boy were ready for adventures. They took the Green Pony and the Purple Chameleon everywhere from the North Carolina coast to the Mountains of Virginia and the state parks in Florida. They camped in Pisgah National Forest and while the boy and his Purple Chameleon hopped like mountain goats or gazelles, the girl used her plus tires to bulldoze and plow through the rock gardens preferring sheer power to any sort of skill.
They rode up to the Rhododendron Gap just below Mount Rogers in Virginia, at 5444 feet one of the highest trails accessible to mountain bikes east of the Mississippi. The trail was difficult offering challenging riding and a lot of hike-a-bike. The boy, the girl, Purple Chameleon, and the Green Pony were happy and high on endorphins while riding what ProjectMTB describes as 20-miles of rock gardens somehow packed into a 14-mile trail. No pain, no gain – the four of them acknowledged.
In Florida they camped at Bahia Honda state park and traveled to Mallory Square in Key West to see amusing street performers at sunset. The quartet wasn’t challenged by the South Florida sea-level terrain, which was as flat as the Earth before Magellan proved it round. They sat next to each other and marveled at the fiery sun as it sunk into the Atlantic Ocean. These two bikes were perfect for their people just as the people were perfect for each other.
The adventures continued and new memories piled up — life was good until one day the girl received a call from the boy who said, “Do you know how much I love my bike?”
“Yah, why?” The girl responded.
“Well parts of the Purple Chameleon are still on I-40. Somehow it fell off the rack and got crashed by an eighteen-wheeler”
“What? Why would the bike fall off?” She asked not really following what was going on, but in a few seconds added, “Oh! I am so sorry sweetie, I can’t imagine how you must feel.”
Suitably distraught and with a heavy heart the boy said, “I will never love another bike again.”
The boy took the remains of Purple Chameleon home and called his insurance company. An adjustor came to the boy’s house, took pictures, entered information into a claim form and the boy received an insurance payment for the replacement value of the bike minus a hefty deductible. Insurance covered this incident because when the Purple Chameleon fell from the rack and was smashed by another vehicle, the episode constituted a traffic accident. If Purple Chameleon would simply fall of the bike-rack but was not ran over, the insurance would not be responsible. The boy took the money and replaced the Purple Chameleon with a boring, aluminum, 27.5-inch wheeled gray Giant. The new-used bike did its job well enough, but it was no Purple Chameleon.
The Green Pony was sad, he missed his Purple Chameleon friend but a bike is a bike and they neither hold grudges nor have long memories. Soon enough, the Green Pony made friends with the gray Giant and they enjoyed new adventures. Together they went to Warrior Creek in North Carolina and rode Overmountain Victory Trail and the nearby Dark Mountain trails. Life went on and with a new member the quartet kept making memories.
A few months later the boy received a call from the girl.
This time she had terrible news to share, “I was in a car accident — I’m OK, but neither is my car nor the Green Pony.”
The majority of car accidents happen within a five-mile radius from home — this accident took place within walking distance from the girl’s house. The girl had stopped, waiting to take a left turn into her neighborhood when a blue SUV rear-ended her. The SUV was driving 30 miles per hour and unfortunately the Green Pony was hanging on the back and absorbed the brunt of the collision. The driver who caused the accident was probably texting. Seeing that front air bags deployed in the blue SUV a bystander called 911. A few minutes later visibly shaken up, a little dizzy, and very apologetic, the perpetrator of the accident crawled out from a mess of deployed airbags.
Realizing that the person who caused the accident was all right the girl looked at her own car — the rear-end appeared like a folded accordion. She looked at Green Pony — the front wheel was all bent, she foolishly hoped that the frame was OK. She stepped closer and noticed black carbon shards protruding from the paramilitary-green paint — carbon frames don’t bend, they snap.
Sad about her car and even sadder about the Green Pony the girl remarked to the perpetrator, “It’ll be all right, no one’s hurt and that’s most important, everything else is just stuff.”
She said that, but deep down her heart bled with anguish. She was still in disbelieve that the Green Pony was gone — she feared that nothing ever could replace him.
City police came and noted the accident.
A few days later an insurance adjustor came to the girl’s house and proclaimed the car was totaled.
The girl commented to the adjustor, “While I’m confident regarding everything that you’re reporting about the car, please pay a very special attention to my bike. This was a state-of-the-art machine with plus-size handmade wheels, carbon fiber frame, and top-notch components. This is an expensive bike and with COVID premiums and current shortages, it’ll be hard to replace.”
The adjustor assured the girl that Geico will replace the bike. He told her to start shopping and if available to purchase a suitable replacement.
The girl went back to the same bicycle shop where she found the Green Pony hoping to find a similar gem, but there were no gems to be found. With COVID induced shortages and being at the end of the calendar year, a similar bike wouldn’t be available for at least three months. She went to another shop and heard the same story. The third shop told her that because of COVID there are no end-of-season discounts and no one negotiates prices these days. She was distraught — she wouldn’t be able to find a unique gem, prices were at premium, and suitable bikes were not readily available. But a few days later the girl got lucky — a local bike shop received a Santa Cruz Juliana, an amazing bike with all the bells and whistles but zero emotional value. She purchased the blue Juliana but didn’t have the heart nor emotional bandwidth to assign her a proper name. In a few days the insurance claim was settled and life moved on.
A bike is a bike and they neither hold grudges nor have long memories. The boy and the girl continue biking together accompanied by the gray Giant and the blue Santa Cruz Juliana. The new bikes perform well and are fully adequate — the boy hops over obstacles like a mountain goat or an antelope and the girl plows through using sheer power without skill. Her wheels are no longer plus-size but as advertised, the 29er on the front rolls over obstacles with ease while the 27.5 in the back preserves the bike’s playful handling (all good for skilled riders, not so true for brutes). New adventures are yet to come and new memories are to be made – a bike is a bike and someday these two might earn their proper names.