… is worth two in the shed. As observed by that rather hackyned old proverb, now cheekily repurposed for what passes as rationale from this side of the keyboard. From here I can imagine the gasps of amazement and expressions of disbelief from those hearing of this unforeseen event.
Yeah okay that’s not imagination, it’s deluded fantasy. I expect exactly no one to be even mildly astonished on the big reveal merely shuffling innocent trinkets in the shedofdreams(tm). A bedrock of my relationship with the good lady, her indoors is that I pretend to have a brilliantly nuanced trail-map from today to a fixed point in time*, where fiscal probity and asset sanity finally replaces the revolving door of bike replacement. And she pretends to believe me.
It goes something like this; there’s some traditional dogma surrounding multiple bike ownership – plant the shed with the latest crop of shiny new things as defined by Mr. Marketing, and harvest the one most appropriate for the prevailing ground conditions. Crappy old winters day or quick woody hack, take the hardtaill. Uplift truck or big rocky day out, drag the big bike from the shadows. Anything in between, grab the one that’s pretty damn good at everything else.
There’s the thread of a compelling narrative there. Save the good bikes for best- every ‘proper‘ rider must tell a petrolhead-Alfa hardtail story, the full face needs a worthy companion so there’s no situation for which I’m under-equipped or poorly matched. Dig a little deeper tho and a couple of rather important points are uncovered; firstly cumulative isn’t the same as appropriate, and two thirds of your bikes hardly get ridden.
Examples abound; my hardtail is a lovely incarnation of the breed - big wheels, a steel heart and corner-chasing handling. The pseudo big bike has an effortless brilliance accompanying it’s less accomplished rider from the back of an uplift trailer or swinging on a chairlift. Both are fantastic, but neither has even 10% of the miles clocked on the middle of the road unsung hero.
The Pyga is a great bike. I’ve actually worn stuff out before upgrading it. 3200 kilometres, two drivetrains, one full set of bearings, two suspension services, one brake bleed, endless pads, multiple tyres and scratches from rim to rim document 18 months of multiple weekly interactions leaving me with a big grin and a nagging worrry over all the unridden bikes with their drying seals, deflating tyres and dusty countenances.
Bikes at the heart of the periphery are outliers. They are essentially wall art, occasionally wheeled out to justify their existence. What they do better than your ‘daily driver’ feels strange and alien. Behind their bars is not a familiar place, so half the ride is relearning their foibles. It doesn’t make them bad bikes, but it does make the bike per genre thinking somewhat flawed.
The solution seems obvious. Just keep that one and use technique, bravery and bloody-mindedness to ride around perceived shortcomings on the margins of trail riding. It’s an interesting idea, but garners no traction for a man who genuinely believes he is one bike from unleashing some hidden potential – regardless of owning similar brilliant examples.
And yes there’s the shiny new bike thing. I’d be fibbing off the scale if that wasn’t factored into solving the complex equation of N+1-2. It’s another manufacturer almost no one has heard of, paid for way before it arrives and purchased entirely on the basis that ‘it looks about right’ plus a nod to the designers who seem like decent blokes.
So my plan** is two bikes almost the same. Small Hammer and Big Hammer if you will. For a man who sees the world pretty much as a nail, every bike is merely graduated percussion. You can keep your finesse, lightweight components, extreme compromises and ridiculous reinventing of what a bike should look like. I don’t want fat, thin, exotic or niche. Rather give me two bikes someway beyond my capability to test them, and I’m pretty much done and dusty.
Riding the Mega always made me feel a little bit special and quite a lot rubbish. Slinging a leg over the Solaris for the first time in six months gave me little joy and an unshakeable feeling of being old and lumbered by a degrading spine. Both can go to people and places where they will be the bike of choice, primarily selected whatever the trail, dragged out in all conditions and slung back ready for another adventure just around the corner.
I’ll be sorry to see them go, but not as sorry as seeing them hanging purposelessly in a heated shed with so much to give and nowhere to go. This might – and probaly is – pretentious wankerage merely displacing guilt for buying into the latest wheel size and geometry, all of which is entirely irrelavent to having fun riding bikes.
There’s a reason bikes are called cycles, because the curators of a shed-full will spin up the sign wave between ‘one of each‘ and ‘more of the same‘. It’ll go around and come around always with some veneer thin rationale to why, this time, the deckchairs on this Titanic have finally assumed their final positions.
Until then, I get to ride new bikes that’ll blow me away in new places, make old places somehow even better and never hang unwanted in something that started as a bike store but ended up looking like a shrine.
A sane person looking into my word may question why anyone could possibly need so many bikes. And they’d be missing the point. It’s not the quantity, it’s the mix. If I ride the Pyga and the Bird equally over the next year, I’ll be proved absolutely right. And if not, guess what happens next?
* at no time would I put a date on that. There’s no point in both of us being disappointed.
** I’ve just reacquainted myself with the OED definition of ‘Plan‘ so feel substituting that for the phrase ‘random stream of unconnected activities’ would be more appropriate.