Today is my birthday. I got the best present the other day and thought I would share it with you.
Last month I posted some images of what turned out to be a crack near my bottom bracket on my 2008 Slayer SXC 30 frame. I ended up taking it to my local Rocky dealer which happens to be JensonUSA in Corona, CA. They ran it by Rocky and let me know I was going to get a new front triangle. They did not have an ETA but I was happy to know it was coming.
Bill, the mechanic at JensonUSA, called me last Friday morning to let me know I could pick up my bike that evening. He said that unfortunately they were unable to match my stock plain white paint job and had to give me a red and white one.
It has been killing me not to have my Slayer for the last few weeks. It has been a love affair between the two of us over the last few years. My #2 girlfriend; she has been there for me through the hell that has been the last four years of my life; quietly waiting for me night or day, ready to help me make my escape, ready to listen to my ragged breathing and pounding pulse. No job, unrelenting facial pain from post-herpetic neuralgia, bankrupted by health problems, #1 girl with breast cancer, a double mastectomy and chemo, a nephew with testicular cancer dead at the age of 20, my nieces' father dead from the bottle, lost my house, lost my way, almost lost my mind. Almost.
My faithful precious SXC Slayer-I wish I had the legs to get her up those steep ones because I know she has it in her. Uphill, downhill...predictable like the hand of the clock tick tick ticking away. So many hours cradled in her tender embrace, rolling away my tears, carrying me through the seasons of life. Without her, what? I won't lie, when I left her sitting in the shop, broken, alone, waiting for the saw to split her bones I cried a little bit.
A red and white frame? Are you kidding me? It could have been a polka-dotted, striped frame. Any frame is better than no frame, right? A Rocky Mountain Bikes red and white frame? It's like winning the lottery to me.
When I finally saw my new #2 girl I couldn't believe she was mine. Red and white and Maple Leafs all over. I don't recall ever seeing a paint job like this on the SXC. I know the Team frame had a red and white Maple Leaf design but in all the bike porn I've pored over, lusted after, I don't think I've seen this one before. I could be wrong, I am most of the time; but I think I might have the prettiest Slayer SXC in all the world. The whole trip home I couldn't help but check her out in the rearview mirror, proudly sitting in the bed of my truck.
The next day was my first ride with my new #2 girl. I waited until my favorite time of day, the late afternoon, when the shadows grow long and the heat of the day is past. I headed for my favorite local trail, the one I know so well I can tell when a mouse has cut across. The one I save for the really tough days when I don't want to think, when all I crave with every cell in my body is to feel the flow. It seems my old #2 girl might have been broken for longer than I care to admit or maybe it's the shine of the new penny, I don't know for sure. I do know that the harder I pedaled, the faster I went. She felt much stiffer than I remembered and it felt like I railed every berm and caught air every chance I could. I'd like to tell you all the details but it seems that one word can sum up that ride: coalesce, to grow together or into one body. Before I knew it I was heading up the last hill toward home in the last fading rays of the setting sun, sweaty and smiling with my heartbeat hammering in my ears.
When I got home I sat down in the garage beside her to wipe her down. She had dirt in all the right places. I felt the smoothness of her lanky limbs, all red and white, and I won't lie. I cried a little bit.
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