By Carole Trottere
Who knew that buying a new bicycle after 20 years could be so emotional? But it is. I feel like a married person who just told her spouse that I’m trading him in for a newer, younger model. I’m torn, yet I know it’s time. My original Cannondale R300, also known as The Green Hornet, is a part of me and a part of my history. As I effortlessly lifted my new Cannondale Synapse Carbon 105 5 onto the roof rack the other day, I imagined what my old bike might be thinking:
Who’s the Wicked City Woman on the roof? I need my Oakleys because she sure is new and shiny. What color is that? Looks like gloss jet black and berserker green. She certainly takes your breath away, doesn’t she? That bitch; I hate her.
Sure, my color was probably discontinued years ago and I’ve got some rust here and there. Who doesn’t get old after 20 years of use? You think you look the same as you did in 1994? Ha! You forget the view I have of your butt. Believe me, it ain’t the same. But okay, I understand that you felt the need for a new bike. Heck, I can honestly say you deserve it. But it hurts. I hope you’re not intending to put that new Cannondale right next to me in the garage, with her Shimano 105 5800 gear set. How would you feel standing next to a 30-year-old woman in a bikini? Exactly. Don’t rub it in my face. I’m aluminum. She’s carbon.
Boy, we sure did have some wonderful times together though, didn’t we? It would be hard to pick just one to reminisce about. Remember when we first rode together, and you clipped into the pedals for the first time and fell over at stop sign? You were such an idiot. But you learned. Then you did your first century with me in 1999. I got a flat in the last 10 miles, but I was just testing you to see if you had what it takes and you finished.
And who can forget that fateful Easter Sunday morning when that new guy in the pace line went down in front of us? You went flying over my handlebars and fell hard on your shoulder.
I’ll never forget the time in 2001 when you shipped me from South Carolina to New Hampshire for that three-day tour. The second day we went 120 miles together and when we climbed the Middlebury mountain pass in Vermont, you and your friend Lynn sang songs from every TV show that you could remember. I should have given you another flat that day because the singing was unbearable. You got dehydrated at the end and had terrible stomach cramps! That was the farthest we ever rode in one day. You won’t have memories like that with your new Cannondale, because don’t forget, you’re 20 years older now!
Remember the ride across North Carolina you did with your three friends? I broke down one day and some bike mechanic held me together with chicken wire until you got back to camp. I was repaired and ready to go the next morning. If only you had picked boyfriends as reliable and resilient as me.
I know sometimes when you did those supported rides and saw all the other cool bikes that you felt a little inferior. You wished for a lighter bike; a more colorful frame; better gears, didn’t you? You were like Cinderella waiting for your pumpkin to turn into a coach, but it didn’t. I was always just a reliable, aluminum frame Cannondale that never let you down. I’m the indomitable Green Hornet! I’ve braved the wind and rain on your car roof, crossed the Long Island Sound on the ferry dozens of times and taken you along Old Montauk Highway and the North Fork of Long Island, passed wineries and lavender farms and up and down those killer hills in New Hampshire. I spent two years in South Carolina Low Country with you too, when you finally learned to actually RIDE me properly, thanks to your biking buddies who taught you how to shift gears and ride in a pace line. We pedaled past swamps and road kill, bob cats and hostile red necks who hit you in the head with Coke cans, but eeeh ha! What a time we had!
And who can forget that fateful Easter Sunday morning when that new guy in the pace line went down in front of us? You went flying over my handlebars and fell hard on your shoulder. I broke one of my wheels and scrapped my handlebars and brakes (which you never fixed and I had to be scarred for the rest of my life), and then you replaced the wheel with one that didn’t even match! Did I complain? No. In fact, we were more bonded together than ever after that spill. You still have the scar on your elbow and let’s face it, you were never really right in the head after that fall. Most of your friends are too kind to say anything about that. But I mention it in passing.
But now, in 2015, we have so much in common. I’m rusted in places, you’re rusted in places. Not all my parts are the ones I came with, and let’s face it: your parts aren’t looking pristine either. You’ve gained some weight since 1994. My aluminum frame, which you claimed was ‘so heavy’, hasn’t changed since then. Who’s so heavy now, hmmmm?
So I guess what I’m saying is, go ahead and have your fling with your sexy new Cannondale (high-priced hussy if you ask me). I’ll be here in the garage for those rainy days when you don’t want to get “The Princess” wet or dirty. I’m a workhorse. She can be the show horse. But I will always love you more because I know I was the reason that you fell in love with cycling.
Your original Cannondale
P.S. Did you know that the saddle bag still has some Tylenol in it from 1998? Please don’t take it or it will be your last headache.
Dear Cannondale R300,
I love you more than words can say. If there was a Bike Hall of Fame I would put you in it. I know how you feel, because every time Billy Joel gets a new girlfriend who is 30 years younger than him I say, “Hey. You should be dating someone my age!” but of course he doesn’t listen. The heart wants what the hearts wants, but please know that you’ll always be my number one.
P.S. Has my butt really gotten bigger?
Editor’s note: This review originally appeared in Issue #34 of Bicycle Times. To make sure you never miss an issue, order a subscription.