Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful powder blue converted fixie with a patent faux-leather saddle and shiny, lacquered cork handlebar tape. Its sturdy road wheels had rich, brown deep-Vs, the front clasped on with a convenient quick release to fix flats in a jiffy when on the go. The bicycle’s owner had purchased a mini Kryptonite lock, just wide enough to fit around the bicycle’s sturdy chromoly frame and the bike racks it was frequently locked to around town.

One day, the bicycle’s owner got super wasted at a local bar and, too drunk to bike home, decided to hail a cab instead. Left alone, its frame hugging the cold black curve of the bike rack, the bicycle cowered under the shadow of the night sky. As her owner drooled into a pillow under the soft light of stick-on glow-in-the-dark stars, the beautiful bicycle was quickly spotted and ravaged by the greedy hands of the night. The sun dawned upon the tragic scene: Hastily stripped of its wheels, saddle and handlebars, a bare blue frame leaned against the bike rack, hanging by its top tube from the thick lock that still clung to the cold steel, the oiled chain pulled off its teeth and coiled on the sidewalk.

The owner returned for the bicycle two days later, a testament of how little the bicycle was loved and appreciated. Angry at the inconvenient mess the slaughter had caused, the owner kicked at the frame, said, “Fuck it, I wanted a Pista anyway,” and left the bike to the elements. Abandoned, the bicycle laid alone for nearly a month, its beautiful blue paint job chipped and marred with dirt, the chain rusted and dry. The scene was so dismal that documentary photographer Mark Vuorinen did not have the heart to pick up his camera and add it to his collection of dying bicycles on skeletonsnyc.com.

Fortunately, there are people in this world who can look past the sad wreckage left behind by others and see beauty and potential. Acknowledged by a local pedalphile, the bicycle was cut from its Kryptonite noose, and after 90 days inside the evidence room at the SLPD, set free to start a new life at the Bicycle Collective. You see, thanks to the efforts of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, a resolution was passed in 2009 giving all unclaimed bicycles to the non-profit organization. At the Collective, the bicycle was put in the loving hands of volunteers, who gently uncovered its powder blue paint and found the perfect saddle and handlebars to complement it.

Walking into the shop, a bright-eyed young woman explained to the gentleman who welcomed her that she didn’t have much money, but she desperately needed a bicycle so she could start racing in alleycats and going to Critical Mass and Sundae Shuffle. The powder blue frame immediately caught her eye. After getting just the right fit and signing up for some volunteer hours to learn more on how to maintain her new friend, the woman rode down West Temple with a grin on her face, a beautiful new relationship blooming as she pedaled.

Forget the chocolates and the flowers and your relationship status this Valentine’s. True love is a bicycle.