If Bicycles Grew on Trees...
Imagine for a moment that, after drooling over images of beautiful bikes of an evening, as is your custom, you fall into a deep slumber and begin to dream. And in this dream, you are walking though a lush, beautiful forest. Exotic in its flora, this is not any forest you are familiar with. All manner of palms and giant ferns thrive in its humid depths, as flowering vines curl and twist overhead, their blossoms releasing bittersweet musks.
Filled with curiosity and wonder, you gently sweep aside the flopping oversized leaves in your path and walk toward the hushed gurgling sounds of a distant waterfall.
And just then, you not as much notice as become gradually aware of something most unusual… Beside every fern, beneath every palm, beyond every curling mossy garland in your path, stands a dazzling bicycle - its jewel-tone finish to rival the tropical blossoms, its polished components to outshine the gleam of the waterfall's spray.
It is then that you understand you are dreaming. You are dreaming of a paradise, an enchanted, impossible place where bicycles glitter like fireflies and grow on trees like oversized tropical fruit...
As if to confirm this, a gray-eyed figure emerges from the shadows, bathed in a golden light, and you see it is Richard Sachs. Having already determined you are dreaming, you are not surprised. "Richard Sachs," you say, pointing to a cluster of bikes that has, in the meantime, materialised in front of a spiky evergreen hedge, "Your bikes are not their usual red!" And you watch Richard Sachs as his eyes turn serious and, with a finger pressed to his lips, he whispers: "No more red bikes..." then vanishes into thin air.
Spinning around in surprise, you find yourself facing a locked box mounted to a rear bicycle rack. "What can be in it?" you wonder to yourself. And just as this thought floats across your mind, a pair of pale hands emerges, turns the key in the lock, and slides open its panels - removing a stunning array of objects from within. Out come bottles of sherry and stacks of paperwork, winter coats and ballroom dancing shoes, bread rolls and bags of coal, model boats and balls of twine… Made dizzy and confused by this demonstration, you cover your face and turn away to run.
But you stop in your tracks at the sight of none other than Michelle Pfeiffer! Clad head to toe in cycling clothes, she is sipping a beer while texting on her phone with slender dainty fingers, you can hardly believe it. "Michele Pfeiffer!" you say, awed yet emboldened by this dream reality, "How pretty you are! But I really must get out of here…" Smiling serenely, she puts her hand on your shoulder. "Don't go," she says, pointing to something right beside you, "This is one phat party…"
And as the words echo in your ears, Michelle Pfeiffer herself disappears, and you find yourself astride a monstrous bike, navigating a viscous path you first take to be mud, before realising it is thick with tropical honey. You pedal through it, marveling at the width of the tires and glad to finally have a vehicle on which to navigate this strangest of places. Although on a path like this, honestly you might be better off on a horse.
"A Horse?" a voice booms behind your shoulder, "of course!" And, as hollow laughter follows, you realise just how treacherous this place is. It's as if the vegetation can read your mind, transforming your very thoughts into half-sensical velocipedian apparitions.
Galloping about, it's not long before you sense that you've been going in a circle. And at that very moment you pass a neon sign declaring this very thing.
"Just how long have I been doing this?" you start to wonder, as you pass another sign, now with the number 44. "Forty-four hours? Forty-four miles?" you ask, hoping for an explanation of this mysterious number's significance. "That is for you to decide," says the enigmatic smile of the man standing beside it.
Now feeling somewhat depleted and ravenous with hunger, you pause to rest beside a Dill Pickle stand, which, naturally, appears in your path. Here handlebar and saddlebags sit bursting with pickles, prepared in accordance with the finest Eastern European recipes. Yet no matter how many you take, the bags remain perfectly full.
But while the pickles you gorge on are delicious, they alone do not fill you, and you find yourself next to a finely carved sculpture of a bicycle, made of pure custard. You give it a stealthy lick and know at once that you face a terrible dilemma, as the custard bicycle is as stunning as it is delicious, and to eat even a morsel would destroy its perfect form. With difficulty, you tear yourself away from it and seek sustenance elsewhere.
At last, you find yourself in front of a pumpkin patch, presided over by a sly-eyed bearded man who snaps his fingers to make the orange orbs grow and swell before your very eyes until they burst to pieces, revealing freshly hatched bicycles. Impressed with his tricks, but starving, you scramble to pick up and eat the pumpkins' pulpy remains, which - just as you had suspected - are baked and deliciously seasoned by the time they reach your mouth.
Well fed now, you stroll beneath some ferns and watch as a tropical ant you happen to notice stretches and grows to amazing proportions, until it transforms into a work bike, inviting you to hop on and continue meandering along the forest path. Indeed, this is a fabulous dream and all is well, you think ...if only you weren't so thirsty.
Steering your steed toward the sounds of the waterfall you'd glimpsed earlier, you reach out to it with an empty water bottle, only to find that it too turns into a bike, its droplets flowing along the tubes with a glittering sleekness, with only a sprinkle escaping here and there. And as you wish for more water, you hear a terrific sound of thunder and suddenly, the technicolour drops are all around you - falling in buckets through the leafy canopy of jungle trees and drenching you head to toe.
No longer thirsty, but wet and dejected, you wander about dazed - until you fall into the arms of a golden-haired fairy, who envelopes you in voluminous, luminous garments until you are warm and dry.
It's in this comforted, satiated state, you curl up and drift off, to the sweet sound of violins. And when you wake up, the forest and the whole bizarre fantasy are gone.
You rise and stretch your limbs and, with a shake of your head, marvel at the dream you've just had. You then look around and find yourself not at home. Rather, you are on a bench, at the entrance of a grand transparent structure that you soon understand to be a greenhouse.
Gingerly, almost on tiptoe, you walk in, and you are overcome by an eerie, yet not unpleasant sense of deja-vu, as a kindly-eyed bearded man in a dark suit welcomes you. "Where am I?" you ask. "At the New England Builder's Ball," he replies. And as you walk past him, toward the lush vegetation and waterfalls and handmade bikes you already know await you, you realise, with a start, that you have just spoken with none other than Albert A. Pope, the father of US bicycle manufacturing. You shrug, and smile, and keep on walking. Whether it is another dream or not, you are not quite sure. But it's a dark October night in New England, and magical things are not unheard of in these parts - not least when it comes to handmade bicycles.