R.I.P. One Eyed Willy

My first mountain bike was a really heavy Raleigh Mirage - Reynolds 531 tubing helped, but it was an only LX 300 group set with Biopace chain rings (I still have them, you know they'll be worth a fortune one day!) and no suspension. This was back in the days when no bikes had suspension. It was purple all over; purple frame, bars, stem; the whole thing. Scott AT 4 bars with purple bar tape. It was affectionately called the purple people eater.
I rode it seriously off road one time in the Lake District, over 2500ft mountain passes, knee deep in snow, I carried that damn 40lb bike over every mountain pass; savoring the wheels spinning on the icy roads down, No panniers I used a backpack it was heavy and uncomfortable. I couldn't have been more miserable and happy at the same time. I didn't mountain bike again for around 6 years.

I rode it around town (Edinburgh/Manchester) a lot. A 20 mile round trip to my girlfriend's was a 4 times a week event and wresting for road space with the big double decker buses a constant nightmare, not to mention the idiot lemming pedestrians that seem to swarm into tourist towns like Edinburgh. I got the coolest Bell for mike bike. You could always tell when I was about to run you over. It had wobbly eyes like cookie monster that jiggled as you went over cobble stones and I loved it.

After making sure a friend had the best birthday he'd ever had, we poured out of the local pub only to notice that my bike (and my friend's bike) were both missing. We were too drunk to really grasp the entire situation, but the next day I realized what had happened, bummer. I got such a sweet deal on the insurance and bought my Diamond Back (I still use it today, well actually only the stem and cranks remain of that bike, the frame having long been warrantied for an aluminum one) the only thing I was really bummed about was I lost that cool bell. I used to wonder where it was and who was ringing it now. Was that my bell, whenever someone was about to run me over?

That was about 10 years ago. I'd been looking for a replacement bell as cool as my googley eyed monster ever since . Those big bird squeezy things are cool, even Gaggi's little dinosaur, but none as cool as my purple wobbly eye dude. Every bike store I went in I'd always check the bells, see what they had, if they rang loud enough and looked cool enough. None satisfied my high standards...

That was until 6 years ago. In an attempt to avoid Wheelwonks at all costs I had called every bike shop in my neighborhood (well there's two and one's Wheelwonks) looking for a star (spangled?) nut for my sweet new fork and they had one, So I blasted down to Park Sales & Service on Somerville Avenue. It's a small, more traditional Local bike Store, goodies stuck to each and every surface available, not too much of your high end goodies, but enough to get you back on the road for sure. Of course I checked out their (rather extensive for such a small shop) bicycle bell department and there it was! My Purple dude! my mojo (or one just like it, and that's good enough for me!) So I bought all they had. I got two purple dude's a yellow bee and a red tomato, all with googley eyes.

Another 6 years passed, and the bell's took some abuse. Red Tomato, on the Full Suspension Mongoose, took one for the team in Lynn Woods after a spectacular crash (over the bars) on the super slick rock that's there. He's now zip tied to my courier bag so that I still have him with me. Yellow Bee lived a short life zipping (buzzing?) around on my Merlin XLM. One crash at about the only race I ever really entered (apart from the 24 hr races) and he was gone, I thought I was racing, so I didn't even stop to see if anything was missing, sadly, Bee was. That leaves 2 purple dude's one on my commuter bike which is what's left of the original diamond back and a whole lot more new stuff (and a rigid fork and slick tires now). The other is on my Blur, my regular mountain bike which I ride all the time (1000 miles off road this year, baby!). He's taken quite the beating over the years and at first he lost a pupil to a cracked retina and then he lost his whole eye!


This morning I snapped off my one eyed willy. As with most spectacular accidents this one happened in the parking lot before we even set out for a ride. I've had him for pretty much as long as I can remember and it was always comforting to know he was there. When we came across people on the trail I'd reach for him instinctively. His ding-a-ling would let people know we were coming and perhaps get out of the way if we were climbing particularly well. The best thing about him was that he never dinged unless I wanted him to. He let out one last ding as my bike fell over and then he was laying prone on the ground, his one good eye looking up at me, never to ring-a-ding again.

R.I.P. good friend, I'll miss you.