N + 1


20140909_215146Ask any cyclist, and they will understand the uniquely cycling-specific principle of N + 1. If you’re one of them triathlete types, or stumbled across cycling one day, N + 1 is the principle of having the appropriate number of bicycles. N is the number of bikes you have now, and + 1 is how many more you need. Always one more.

I believe I am an expert in N + 1 given how I apply this principle to my life and collection of bikes. For example, I never get rid of a bike. I think the very first bike I ever owned, some white thing that was a hand-me-down, is the only bike no longer in one of the places I’ve called home. I have bikes here in Malaysia of course, but also at my home in Massachusetts and still at my parents’ house in Connecticut where I grew up. Someday I will consolidate all of these collections, but I think I need a garage first.

Another way in which I apply N + 1 is I’m always trying new types of cycling. I started off with the usual Walmart quality bikes growing up, then went to road cycling, then to cyclocross and now I’ve been mountain biking and really want the MTB hanging up in my friend’s shop. No one bike can be used for two different types of riding. My race bike is for racing, including the local cat 6 races. The steel bike is for long road rides when I appreciate not feeling beat up on afterwards. The Trek I have in the US is currently my stateside race bike, but when they’re all together it’s my bad-weather race bike. The CX bike and MTB are self-explanatory. Sometimes I’m forced to use the CX bike for commuting, but that’s only because my commuter bike, the 1976 Raleigh Grand Prix that used to be my primary road bike, is in the states. I have several bikes and frames in disrepair, but that’s because they haven’t found their true calling yet.

Some types of bikes I’d still like to build are a city bike for spandex-free commuting, a track bike to use in the velodrome I wish was nearby, a hardtail MTB for riding trails with the dogs, a fat bike because snow, and maybe a singlespeed because now my knees aren’t totally broken anymore.

Seriously, though, I love bikes. I love they way they ride and how they look leaned up against the wall. I can make any background look good with a bike in the foreground. I kept staring at the seat stays of a friends bike the other day, admiring how clean it looked because the brakes are under the chain stays.

I think some day I’ll have enough bikes to actually have one to hang on the wall, and not ride.

Enjoy Your Ride
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