During dinner one night about 18 months ago, I mentioned the idea of a new bike at the absolutely perfect time: My wife was in a good mood, and was surprised I hadn’t brought up the idea earlier. Besides, our son had recently outgrown his bike. This way, she said as we drove home from the restaurant, I could pass my old M2 Stumpjumper to him, and she could have the bike he had just outgrown.
I should have known she was out of her mind when she agreed to the full-suspension idea when we were still eating the appetizer.
No way was he getting my beloved hardtail. The kid doesn’t ride much and, when he does, it’s just to get around town. I said he could have my old Trek commuter bike and I’d convert the Stumpjumper for me to ride to work. My wife and our two kids couldn’t comprehend my resistance. Why go to the trouble of modifying the Stumpjumper, she asked, when the Trek is already set up for commuting?
After a few minutes of trying to explain, I finally got exasperated and blurted out, “You don’t understand the relationship.”
At this point, she and our kids exploded in laughter. “Relationship?” they cried. “It’s a bike!”
You would think my wife, of all people, would appreciate my loyalty to a bike I’d been with for a few years.
I get attached to my bikes. I don’t buy new ones frequently, so I spend a lot of years on each of them. I do my own maintenance and repairs, so I know each one inside and out; its quirks, its strengths, its weaknesses, its fears, its deepest desires whispered late at night over wine and candlelight, and … uh … I mean, I was talking about a friend of mine and his bike.
So anyway, with three of 'em in working order we have “open” relationships, but my bikes and I share close bonds. But this is the time of year when my fidelity is tested.
I blame porn.
New bike magazines have been arriving in my mailbox, and they’re full of annual buyer’s guides. Everything’s shiny and new. All the parts are fresh, perky and perfectly proportioned. Carbon fiber whozits, aluminum whatzits and titanium thingamabobs. It’s like a big pajama party at Hef’s place, if Hef owned a bike shop.
A guy’s mind can start to drift, no matter how hard he tries to be true. Sure, my Epic’s still young and hot, but my older bikes have been around the block a few times. They’ve got quite a few miles on them, if ya know what I mean. And one came to me after a prior relationship, so it was already starting to show its age when we got together.
This is a tempting time of year. Lust flows through my veins. I have to remind myself that I’m not as young as I once was, and I've never been all that fast. These sexy new things aren’t meant for me (at least not this year) and, besides, such a relationship brings a lot of pressure. There are always evil guys who want to steal the hot, young things away from you. And you feel like you have to take a little better care of the new models. Scrub them clean more often. Make sure they’re warm, dry and tuned up. You feel bad if you ride 'em hard and put 'em away wet. All that stuff is a lot of work.
If you’re gonna have a harem of bikes, maybe it’s better to keep a few trusted old rides in the mix. Too many fancy things can lead to trouble.
At least that’s what I tell myself as another drop of drool falls onto the magazine page.