N + 1 = My First Bike...

3:15 PM

A friend introduced me to this equation: N + 1 = X.  Where N is the number of bikes you currently own, and X is the number of bikes you need to own.  A handy little algorithm that can be used to justify any number of bike purchases…

When we first bought our road bikes, I justified the expense (a mid-range road bike buy that was on super-sale at my local bike shop) by telling myself that this was the only bike I would be buying for many years.  Even on super-sale, I was spending more than three times what I had ever spent on a single bike, and needed a long time to finally make the decision to buy.  Of course, one year later I would find myself buying a cross bike for the new amazing sport in my life, and one year after that would bring my purchase of my mountain bike.  While I am not an adherent to the N + 1 theory of bikes, I am sliding in that direction.

 My first road bike will always have that special place in my heart for being the vehicle on which I rediscovered cycling.  It is a nice bike, a Fuji Roubaix with a carbon fork and stays that keep the ride smooth, and a mostly Ultegra component group.  I’ve swapped out the original cranks for a compact crank set, which greatly improved my love of hill climbing; and last year I upgraded from mountain pedals to kick-ass Speedplays, which has greatly improved my sense of style and design (and, I’m sure, my speed - but really I just love the way they look).  Next spring I’m planning on swapping my wheels for the Dura Ace wheels I’ve been using in CX to add that last element that will surely turn me from a cat 4 to a cat 3…no…probably not, but they will be nice!

I still remember my first ride on Ruby.  Looking down at my bike computer, I couldn’t believe I was going so fast, so easily.  The bike truly seemed to power itself.  It was September when we first bought out bikes, and that fall we worked farther and farther out on our rides, discovering a different way to exercise and see the Twin Cities.  Our brief season culminated in a long-planned 30 mile ride before the bitter cold temperatures settled in (of course, I now laugh about that ride – we thought 30 miles was so much distance…).

I’ve got 8,000+ miles on Ruby now, just over three years later, and she is starting to show some age.  I’ve picked up any number of scratches from leaning her against rocks, trees, and poles.  There is damage on the left side (handle bars and rear stays) from my one and only crash (knock on wood, a very painful experience).  I know now that she is not the best bike out there, but I still can’t imagine giving her up.  It is the one bike that fits me best – puts me in an aggressive position without causing shoulder/back pain.  I’ve ridden her in rain, mud, up Going-to-the-Sun road and down the other side, and on so many team hill rides that I’m sure she knows the route by herself now.  Plus, I like that she is not the newest, most tricked out bike on the road.  Ruby lets me experience that wonderful feeling you get when you fly by someone who is riding a $5,000 bike while you are on your proletariat, mid-range road bike!

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