I didn’t really recognize the words coming out of my mouth. I was saying, “I don’t really want to own a lot of bikes anymore. I just want to have a few really good ones.” As soon as I said it, a brief ontological crisis bloomed in my reptile brain. My legs went wobbly. I was telling the truth but also contradicting the basic truth of ‘n+1’ where n is the number of bikes you own, and the question is how many you want to own in total.
Maybe it’s growing maturity? No. Probably not. Maybe it’s the physical reality of the limited space in the two bedroom house I share with my wife and two kids, the growing share of that space afforded to hockey/soccer/lacrosse/baseball/video game/kid bike sprawl, and my diminishing patience for having to move objects in order to get to the washer and dryer.
Or maybe, I think this is actually it, it’s that what I really, really like is to feel comfortable on the bike I’m riding at any given time. I have what I’ll call a mixed-terrain bike, because gravel grinder is such an awful term, and I’m pretty close to internalizing its dimensions so that I can clear almost any obstacle on it that I can on my mountain bike. As a not-fast guy (don’t say slow), the infinite possible gains in bike handling are what really thrill me, and those gains mostly come from familiarity, which argues that I should rider fewer bikes, regardless of what my 12-year-old self tells me, that part of me that wants EVERY bike. This is the kid inside, the one who saved his allowance to buy stem and tube pads for his BMX bike, the one who wanted, but never got, mag wheels, back when that was a thing, whose bike lust rose early and was never sated.
Except that now, quite unexpectedly, it seems to have gone.
To be clear, I am still trudging up and down the aisles of the internet, stopping to admire the shiny things on the shelves. I still LOVE bikes, and I don’t imagine I’m done getting bikes yet, but the heat has gone out of it in, I think, a good way.
So this week’s Group Ride asks two questions. First, are you still after ‘n+1?’ Do you have a wish list longer than the reach of your bank balance? And if you are still lusting, what is the top bike on that list? If I had to name a next bike for myself, I’d have a hard time telling you weather it was a 29er or another road bike, but most of my friends know exactly what’s next…and exactly what it costs.