Sunday, May 6, 2012

can one have too many bikes? a revisited topic

Over the years I've had as few as one bicycle and as many as six at once.
By today's Rivendell Enthusiast Standard, even six is on the low side.
Most Riv Enthusiasts have at least that many and some have up to eight or nine bikes.
A former co-worker of mine at the shop had nearly 70 bikes (in various stages of repair/rideability, mind you) at once, living in his house, basement and garage.
I used to kid him about his collection: "You've got seventy bikes and only one butt -- when will you ride them all?"
He must've taken it to heart, because since then he's retired, moved into a smaller house and sold off more than two-thirds of the lot.
Today my stable is down to three functioning bikes: A 26"-wheeled city bike, a 700c-wheeled road bike, and a longtail cargo bike.
(A fourth bike hangs on a hook and I'm giving myself until the end of this year to decide if I really want to keep it. It's a geared mountain bike, something I'd picked up last year in anticipation of giving up singlespeed racing. While I cannot make any predictions, I am leaning towards selling this off too and letting go of the racing thing for good. My body has been through a lot of noticable change in the last year-plus and all the pesky little annoyances are catching up with me.)

Another thing I notice about having fewer bikes is that I find a diminished need to putter on them so much. After all, if you only have a couple of bikes you depend upon all the time, you're less inclined to tear them down and rebuild/reconfigure them out of boredom or even curiosity. I still enjoy puttering on bikes, just not so much on my own right now. If something needs fixing, I fix it and get on with my ride. Riding -- not swapping parts, or collecting cool old stuff I'll never get around to putting on my bike -- seems to be the main thing these days.


In anticipation of phasing out of a full-time career in bicycle repair, I am cleaning out a lot of stuff I'll never use, mostly lots of spare parts and accessories. I may even begin to sell of some of the more esoteric tools I've had for years because, now that I know I'll never turn my home bike space into a little bike shop for the neighborhood, I have little desire to keep some of these on hand. If I really need my bottom bracket threads re-tapped I can always go to Citybikes and do it there. Should the time come when I completely stop working at a bike shop I can hope that I'l get some sort of "friend of the house" discount. In any case, it's just not a contingency I need to remain prepared for, and it will be more than enough to keep the minimal assortment on hand to do an overhaul or tune-up at home.


Grant Peterson wrote a little book called "Just Ride". It's out now and he is on a book tour around the country. He'll be in Portland next Saturday, speaking at Powell's; his appearance will be followed by a bicycle ride around the city. Grant's a friend and I would love to see him, but I'm torn; he's appearing on Shabbat and I still work in the bike industry enough that a huge part of me doesn't want to go to the event, which I'm sure will be well-attended. So what to do? I am waiting until Friday afternoon and playing this by ear. If I decide that even a mellow mixing of bike commerce with the sabbath feels wrong, then I'll probably just stay away and send him a congratulatory email or something. If I can handle the lack of separation then I might go. We'll see.


After last week's difficulty with transporting all my gear by cargo bike, I am looking at other options to allow me to go car-free to local gigs. Going back to a trailer may be the most affordable option. Would I sell the cargo bike? Not right away, though it has crossed my mind that there are probably better bike cargo options out there. But towing my guitar, amp and gear in a trailer would certainly make for a more stable load. I've done it before, and the only hassle would be locking up both the bike and the trailer securely while I'm playing. Keeping everything covered on a rainy day would simply require a tarp. I am wrestling with the realities of getting older, needing to maintain a slightly more professional appearance and the amount of time and energy required to haul my stuff to and from gigs via bike. All of these things feel slightly in flux right now, and I am reluctant to admit that a time is coming when I will have to modify my carfree  -- and more carefree -- approach.

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