Season’s end

This is not a lament on the changing of the seasonal guard with cold winds, incessant rainfall and turning leaves marking the transition to five months of dark, freezing and generally unpleasant conditions. And the reason I’m not talking about that is it is just too damn depressing a prospect, so I’ll while away in denial for a little longer.

Except for this observation: odd summer wasn’t it? Cold and frosty through the start of spring, rainy and horrid in May, scorching hot for the next two months “ nicely coinciding when buggered knee riding ban “ and then Autumn came early in August. I’ll take a bit of global warming next year then.

No summer may not have officially ended but August marks the finale of my triple indexed, multi-tabbed, pivot tabling spreadsheet of all things bikey. Started five years ago and slowly sliding into obsessive compulsiveness, this behemoth can instantly present “ for example – the cost per mile of a single component or a graphical explosion of miles ridden further sub-divided by bike, route, month and choice of riding trouser. There are tables and formulae conceived back in 2001 which make absolutely no sense any more, but I have this sneaking suspicion that deleting them would wrench away the mysterious underpinning of the entire spreadsheet.

Recording every ride and every purchase while exchanging bikes at shockingly frequent intervals throws up some interesting statistics. A successful drunken bid on a Ti hardtail cost around£3 a mile when it both spat me off with painful regularity and then failed to recoup even half its value. Or a XT mech that’s lasted four bikes while a set of rings from the same manufacturer lasted less than three rides. Well interesting to me anyway.

17 frames have passed through my eager hands in the last five years, stiff XC hardtails, lovingly crafted steel singlespeeds, virtually every full suspension design known to man, jumpy ickle hardtails swapped for big springs encased in massive chassis’ and then swapped back again. At one point, I owned only three hardtails with 80mm forks showing a striking symptom of the buying disease. I like to think that it this merely a logical progression from the first frame to the last narrowing my options and setting me on the right path for the perfect selection. I’d like to think that but of course it’s total bollocks “ bikes were bought for the riding I was doing or because boredom had set in with the ones I had. During early summer 2005, eight frames languished in the barn and even I could see this was an inexcusable bike to leg ratio.

So this year I promised to do better. The stats from August 2005 show one expensive full suspension trail bike, one long forked hardtail and little jump bike. Plus two commuters for work, and a blinglespeed “ a victim of my incessant fadiness “ lying unused and unwanted.

A year later, aside from the singlespeed, the template remains the same. Not the bikes obviously, three commuting bikes have gone, two new ones have come as replacements. The steel hardtail was swapped for another steel hardtail and “ thankfully “ the singlespeed dispatched to someone who allegedly wanted to ride it. At least I kept the full sus but then it’s owned by my company and the Co.Sec (who incidentally is also my wife) refused to allow an asset to be stripped.

It’s hard to know whether this has improved my riding or my enjoyment of riding. I never really gave the other bikes a chance, preferring to shortcut the route to ability through the belief than the marketing men were not complete charlatans. Judging by the crashing defining my riding at the moment, it would appear that this shortcut offered nothing but a larger overdraft. My only really notable achievement this year was chucking a big bike off a big drop at Chicksands. And that was on a bike I’d borrowed!

So it’s clear I should ride more and analyse less. Let the spreadsheet fall into an electronic dusty archive – instead enjoy the bikes that have been painstakingly and expensively researched and built, rather than hankering after the next big thing. I rally must stop buying frames as talent compensators, and then embellishing them with components that look lovely but have questionable benefits. It’s not a bloody art collection and shouldn’t be treated as such “ scrapes and dinks record a chronology of happy memories, worn components are trophy’s of actually riding rather than an excuse for senseless polishing and replacement.

I’ve almost convinced myself. And with the final analysis of 2005/06 reading 2,990 miles ridden,£2,540 pounds spent, it’s not like I can do any worse.

5 thoughts on “Season’s end

  1. NickF

    Al, I’m an accountant and I can tell you that I have NO IDEA what I’ve spent. And if I tried to tell you how many miles I’ve travelled it would be even less accurate.

    Trying to add it up, in the last 12 months I’ve certainly spent over£10k, though in my defence£6k of that was for insurance replacement bikes, one of which was for my wife anyway. As for miles, commuting probably 100 days at 20 miles per day, plus other riding, leads to a grand total of ooh, over 3000 milesish. Probably.

    You’ll be happier once the spreadsheet’s put away, though you’ll probably end up spending even more,because you’ll not have the constant reminder of “you’ve spent HOW much” from your wife.

  2. nickc

    3 bikes. A nice one you can buy bits for, and ride in the summer. A winter bike, SS being the obvious weapon of choice. and a road training bike. Clearly you’ve got the other one at London, so that’s four. There you go, I’ve solved your bike issues.

  3. Alex

    I’ll trade you a playbike for a singlespeed, chuck in a nice light hardtail because my nice bike is too much for round here and we’re agreed.

    I don’t know if I’m cured or in remission. I think the disease has been transfered to Jay who currently in rich in rubber futures.

  4. Grahame

    “eight frames languished in the barn and even I could see this was an inexcusable bike to leg ratio”

    I agree – far too low. I currently have 10 serviceable bikes, and the touring/commuter/winter road bike that was wrecked by the uninsured scumbag cager nearly 3 years ago which is about to be resurrected with a cyclocross frame when I find one that I like and which can pass the “how much?” test.

    Could I interest you in a nice, retro Ibis?

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