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 oversized leaves in your way 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 rivals the tropical blossoms, its polished components 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, glittery as fireflies, grow on trees like oversized tropical fruit...
As if to confirm this, a gray-eyed figure emerges from the shadows, bathed in a golden glow, 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 beside 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 before your very eyes.
Spinning around in surprise, you find yourself facing a locked box mounted to a rear bicycle rack. You wonder to yourself "What can be in it?" 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 and balls of twine… Made dizzy by this demonstration you cover your face, then finally turn away to run.
But you stop in your tracks at the sight of none other than Michelle Pfiffer! Clad head to toe in cycling clothes, she is sipping a beer while texting on her phone with 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 kindly, 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 escape 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 the place, 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 a sign with the number 44. "Forty-four hours? Forty-four miles?" you ask, hoping against hope for an explanation of this mysterious number. "That is for you to decide..."
Feeling ravenous with hunger, you pause to rest beside a Dill Pickle stand, which, naturally, appears in your path.
But while delicious, the pickles 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 - become baked and deliciously seasoned by the time they reach your mouth.
For a moment, you think that all might be well in this dream after all - that perhaps you ought to enjoy it, conjuring up bicycles in any shape and colour you want amidst the gentle rustle of ferns. With a smile on your face, you 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, all is well ...or would be well, if only you weren't so thirsty. Would it be too much to conjure up water in this dream?
Steering your steed toward the sounds of the waterfall you'd glimpsed earlier, you find that it too turns into a bike, its droplets flowing along the tubes with a glittering sleekness, with only a droplet escaping here and there. And as you ask 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 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 so that you are warm and dry.
And in this comforted, satiated state, you curl up and drift off, to the sweet sound of violins - waking up with a jolt.
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 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 kind-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 realize, 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're not quite sure. But if handmade bikes grew on trees, you know if would look something like this.