Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Masked Cyclist: a Halloween Tale

Sit down, dear reader, and grab a cup of hot apple cider. For in honor of this Hallow's Eve, I shall tell you a tale that is as true as it is chilling: the tale of the Masked Cyclist.

It was a dark, crisp Autumn night many years ago and I was a mere high school girl, cycling home from piano lessons on my step-through mountain bike. The nonfunctional shifters and rusty chain emitted eerie creaking sounds as I rode through the nocturnal New England streets. My path was illuminated by moonlight, since my bicycle had no lights. Suddenly, I glimpsed something out of the corner of my eye - a moving shadow perhaps? I stopped, with a screech of my poorly adjusted brakes.

At first, I saw nothing at all. But soon, an image began to materialise before me.

And then, there she stood: the Masked Cyclist!

We had all heard of her, but only the very few had seen her - and never this closely. Legend had it, the Masked Cyclist haunted the roads of our town, clad in Edwardian garments and astride an old bicycle - her urgent pleas getting lost in the howling of the wind. What did she want? No one knew, but we all feared her intense gaze.

As I stood frozen in place, the Masked Cyclist moved closer and closer toward me - until suddenly we were face to face. "Who are you, and want do you want?" I managed to utter.

"I am the Masked Cyclist," said she, "and I am not at peace, because the beautiful bicycles that used to roam our land so famously have been all but exterminated by sinister forces. Many decades ago, these streets were full of ladies in their finery, gliding mirthfully through town and through farmland on their trusty loop frames with delightful chaincases, dressguards and lights. But now everything is dark and silent, and our towns are empty, and our farmlands have been replaced with strip malls, and the few bicycles in existence are carelessly built monstrosities that bring little joy to their owners. No, this is too horrifying and I cannot rest. Will you help me?"

"But how can I help?"

"I see that you enjoy riding your bicycle, and I pity you for its poor quality and lack of proper accoutrements. If you agree to help me bring the joy of lovely bicycles to our people, I shall be able to rest. You need only tell me that you agree, and the rest will be taken care of."

I looked at her lovely, ghostly bicycle, and without knowing what came over me, I agreed. "Thank you!" she said to me. "You shall go home now and forget all about our little talk. But 13 years from now I will visit you again to thank you."

And so it was. That same evening, I fell asleep and forgot all about my encounter with the Masked Cyclist, and life took its course. Little did I know that the otherworldly creature had decided to possess me, biding her time until the day was right to create Lovely Bicycle. Ignorant of the Masked Cyclist's influence, I knew not what compelled me to write post after post about lugs, loop frames, dynamo lighting, and local frame builders. And thus it continued for over a year, until a fortnight ago. I was cycling home along a popular bicycle commuter route when the Masked Cyclist once again appeared before me. Suddenly I remembered everything. But instead of fear, I was filled with affection - as I now shared the Masked Cyclist's devotion to lovely bicycles.

"Masked cyclist!" I exclaimed, "Is that you?"

"It certainly is," she replied, "I have come to thank you for helping restore the glory of lovely bicycles to our land.  Once again, I see many happy ladies gliding along our streets on their comfortable, trusty bikes, and I am finally able to rest with the knowledge that things are improving."

"But there is still so much work to do," said I, "surely you are not leaving me?"

"Don't be sad," replied the Masked Cyclist. "It is time for me to go now. But my spirit will continue to guide you. And so that you always remember, I leave you my own bicycle. Please take it and cherish it always."

And with those words, the Masked Cyclist disappeared. I have not seen her since, but I can feel that her spirit is at peace.

26 comments:

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dLOq_PUEZc

    Any relation? :P

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  2. Good one : )
    I'll ask her. Suspect it might be a degenerate half-cousin of some sort.

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  3. The Masked Cyclist strikes again! And thank goodness. We're all better for it.

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  4. It's funny how the photos become less shadowy, and the tone of the story lighter, as it comes into the present. I love it!

    At least you simply forgot your conversation with the Masked Cyclist until she returned. Me, I told my MC equivalent that I'd call her right back. More than twenty years later, she got hold of me and wondered, "Where have you been?"

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  5. "And so that you always remember, I leave you my own bicycle. Please take it and cherish it always."
    Ha, must have been a relative of the famous Willem van der Decken, captain of the ghost ship Flying Dutchman.

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  6. Wow, great post. And thanks for all you do.

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  7. Costumes! Masks! Fun night photography! Gazelle! Story telling! You've made my Halloween. I heart you for that. :)

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  8. Love it! The story, the photos, the timing... excellent.

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  9. Lovely, Velouria! This explains everything, I suppose :)

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  10. Lovely indeed! Thanks for all the valuable bike information provided thus far. I've learned so much about bikes by reading your blogs and can't get enough. Though I'm more of a modern bike riding girl - l Iove my Gary Fisher HiFi Deluxe GS mountain bike for trail riding - just for fun, and my Specialized Ruby Elite road bike. But, I'm now ready to add a vintage step-through bike to my collection. I'm somewhat riding a vintage red Haro Impulse for my work commute as well, which has suited me fine, but I'm intrigued by all the lovely vintage bike reviews and information you have shared with us to date. Happy Halloween Masked Cyclist!

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  11. Love it and what great bunch of photos! Lately I've been a little lost in the mechanical talk that's way over my head, but a little cycling mythology? I'm in!

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  12. im becoming more and more addicted to visiting your blog every day, thank you!!

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  13. Thank you all, I am glad you like my tale.
    It's handy, too, because now I can use this post as a reference when asked why I started Lovely Bicycle : )

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  14. I like your tail too!

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  15. OT, but Velouria, you really should set up a carefully curated marketplace, maybe on the Boston Retro Wheelmen website. You could even make some $$$ out of it! So like if someone wants to sell a lovely bicycle or accessory, they send a listing to you, and if you deem it Lovely enough, then you post it, and take a small cut if it sells.

    I for one, would love having a place to buy and sell high quality accessories for vintage bikes (custom built 26 x 1 3/8 wheels, Brooks saddles, chaincases, cranks, dynamo lights, etc.)

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  16. Herzog - I have been considering something like this, as many have asked me about it, but I have not been able to come up with a good solution. Ultimately, I think it would involve a lot of work on my part, and I would have to charge a hefty commission to compensate my time - which would probably make it not worthwhile to interested parties. I am still thinking though...

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  17. What a great Halloween tale, and such evocative images too.

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  18. Bravo!
    The finest Halloween story since The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
    It inspired me to hand out spoke wrenches, chain lube and blinky lights to the trick or treaters.

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  19. Spoke wrenches? How evil. :)

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  20. I need to stop by MT cyclist's place : )

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  21. Lovely. Love the story and the pictures. xx:)

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  22. Awesome photo series and the color & light are perfect!!!

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