The Sadness of Losing a Close Friend

Purple Bike and I came from different backgrounds, had so little in common it was difficult to engage one another at the start.

But as with any relationship, the more time we spent together, the more we came to understand each other’s preferences, and in the end it was hard to part ways. We learned to compensate for each other’s behavior under different conditions and eventually functioned fairly fluidly as one.

The two of us had great adventures as we grew together, riding around DIA when it consisted of a couple of dirt roads, exploring a set of jumps someone had built in an empty lot along the Highline Canal Trail.

We rode up Waterton Canyon and onto the eastern terminus of the Colorado Trail – the beginnings of a whole different adventure on single-track that at the time we could not comprehend with its rocks and roots, uphills and switchbacks. We walked hand on handlebar until realizing it would have to wait for another day, and turned around to whoop downhill all the way to where the canyon becomes Plains, bighorn sheep giving us the Evil Eye.

Over the years, we tried other segments of the Colorado Trail, some attempts less disastrous than others.

We rode long sections of the Santa Fe Trail, from Larkspur, through Greenland and Palmer Lake, down to Monument and through the Air Force Academy to downtown Colorado Springs. And back, with Purple Bike doing its best to think “soft seat”.

On warm summer days, Purple Bike came with me to work so we could do our favorite sections of the Santa Fe Trail, up and down through the Ponderosa pines of the AFA. I’m sure it was disappointed and alarmed at the cartwheel through the sandpit, both of its wheels touching the sky, warm handlebars embedded in my chest as I heaved, trying to catch my breath. After that, we became more cautious in the sandpits.

Mt Herman Road was one of our favorites, on weekdays in summer, unchallenged by the cars that kick up too much dust and rocks on weekends, long forested valley below, wildflowers beside, and always the deep blue Colorado skies above. We’d ride up to where it began to flatten out, then enjoy the breeze in our spokes coming back down.

It was with Purple Bike that Ron and I explored the trail park in Monument, the endless interconnected single-track that invariably led to the tower rock, never actually getting lost despite never knowing where we were.

And on days when Purple Bike’s shifters itched for a ride, we wandered the neighborhood, initially on deer paths, then on asphalt as the deer paths were widened and paved. There still remain a few rutted areas that we enjoy splashing through after a rain. It’s not the same, but is it ever?

With the advent of shock absorbers, Purple Bike knew its days were limited when we went to Moab, our downhill song warbled by the slick rock, which isn’t as slick at higher speeds. And sure enough, the very next year, Ron replaced his bike with one that had shocks.

It took a few more years before I replaced Purple Bike, during which we still went out to Greenland Trail, to Spruce Mountain Trail and Dawson Butte, enjoying the smells of the pines, the expansive views of the Front Range, the tight switchbacks and sand pits. We bounced over roots and sometimes flew a little too fast over the bumps. And it was OK, we were a team, we knew how much we could push it!

We did the Danskin Triathlon bike segment together quite nicely, with Purple Bike cheering me on for the run, and for the swim which it knew I feared. And how many Elephant Rock rides did we end up doing together? Twenty to 30 miles on mostly dirt, through Castlewood Canyon, ending on a long downhill, 45 mph back to party at the Castle Rock Fairgrounds.

Purple Bike had become rusted in places, its chain ring had to be replaced, it got shiny new shifters and brakes. But still it was the chosen bike to ride in the Tour de Fat in Denver, a prestigious bike parade with a diverse crowd of riders committed to stop driving cars. Proudly, Purple Bike rode among the tall bikes, the unicycles, the bikes with pedals made of ski sections. It enjoyed the camaraderie at the After Party and never once complained that its chain just didn’t turn as smoothly as in the old days.

And then one summer, it wasn’t ridden at all. It was moved to the upper bike rack, with a young Cannondale replacing it in the lower rack. It saw me approach it often, bike helmet in hand, but my bike shoes clicked these days. Clicked, because I wouldn’t be putting them into Purple Bike’s clips, but instead into the pretty new bike’s cleats.

A couple more summers passed by, its tires becoming more deflated along with its self-confidence. And then, out of the blue, one Spring day, it was taken off the top rack! I pumped up its tires, just like we used to do before each ride. I put on my helmet, put my bike shoes on. Purple Bike felt so good! Memories of its youth resurfacing in profusion, as it switched effortlessly through each gear, braking, turning. We took a short ride, but it was like Heaven for both of us!

I was preparing Purple Bike for a new owner. And she came with a big smile on her face, anxious for what the future would hold as they made their first strained ride down the driveway, teetering to one side, never falling.

Purple Bike found a new purpose in life, was moving closer to town and would ride on the paved trails with the new partner. A new relationship, a renewed sense of optimism.

What would this new adventure bring?

Greenland Trail - Irina P7210053 copy P1020488-1

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