Fundamental truths are out there, waiting to be found. The moment you look and listen they fall into your lap, so self-evident you wonder where they were hiding.
N+1 being a case in point.
The formula coined by Velominati to describe how many bikes you should own, where N is the number of bikes you currently own. What began as a smart-ass joke became a slurp of lube to the machinery of the bike industry, another cog in the frenzied engine of consumerism.
To own a new bike was enshrined as one of the immutable aims of the game. A perfect, organic boost to global bike sales, working hand in hand with easy credit and sexy advertising. We don’t need a new bike, we need. Italics.
As in, my God have you seen the new Pinarello Dogma…need!
But often we don’t.
I’m lucky, I own a lovely bike. A Wilier Zero 9, a Campagnolo groupset hanging off it, bits rubbed smooth here and there through the friction of five hundred bike rides. It’s five years old now and I caught myself cracking the usual gags: I’ve done well to get five years out of it (nudge, wink…).
Not about to buy a new bike but walking through the mental gymnastics required to justify a two or three grand purchase.
N+1, people would say to me, conspiratorially, like what can you do…this is how it works…buy a bike…an entirely normal response to the uncertainty of a global financial crisis…
I flicked obediently through the websites, narrowing down my options to a tiny handful of painfully desirable Italian machines. Footsteps down the road to inevitable purchase. And then a cycling buddy stopped me in my tracks with a truth-bomb.
A single raised eyebrow: ahem…this.
It’s lovely your bike, isn’t it? You don’t need a new one. Maybe a new set of wheels to spice it up? You should do that.
And I got all dewy eyed.
Not about my buddy – he’s not my type – but my bike.
I thought about the time we summitted the Galibier. That day when I lapped Mallorca. I recalled dragging myself up the forested slopes of La Planche des Belles Filles; ascending into the thin air of the Col de la Bonnette; criss-crossing northern England, leaving before sunrise and arriving at sunset.
Memories, heart, and soul.
I could get a shiny new bike and start with a whole new set of notches on the biking bedpost. Something shiny and Instagrammable. #N+1. Or I could avoid that massive and unnecessary dent in my finances and bask in the value of well-built things that last.
My own little protest against disposable culture and the insanity of eternal growth.
Yeah…I think I’ll do that.
(Wilier Image: road-theory.com|Pinarello Image: via Glory Cycles @ Flickr)