fitness · gear

My optimal number of bikes right now is (N+1)-N

What in the world is this title about?  And why am I asking readers to do math on a Sunday morning?

Some of you readers, especially those of you who like cycling, may remember posts about The Rules.  My title refers to the correct number of bikes to own; see below.

rule 12, saying that the minimum number of bikes to own is 3, but the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes you already own.

I happen to prefer this version, found on a bike forum:

N = your current number of bicycles. +1 = the number you need to have a happy fulfilled life.

For me, N = 6.  That’s right, I have 6 bikes.  Here’s a list:

  1. road bike
  2. cyclocross bike
  3. mountain bike
  4. commuter bike (25-year-old rigid Trek mountain bike, bombproof)
  5. Brompton foldable bike
  6. old cyclocross bike that lives at my mother’s house in South Carolina

For cyclists, bikes are kind of like shoes– you need different ones for different occasions.  You wouldn’t wear sneakers for the opera, would you?  (Well, in Boston, people wear hiking boots everywhere, but I digress…)

But back to my title– it looks like I’m saying that, for me, my optimal number of bikes is 1. How can that be?

This summer I’ve been riding a lot more and love love loving it.  It’s been hard to get back into shape for the kind of riding, frequency of riding, length of riding, and speed of riding that I want.  And I’m not there yet– I’m still moving up the fitness curve, looking for my new normal.

In uncertain times, we tend to gravitate toward the familiar.  For me, this has meant spending my saddle time on my road bike.  Here it is, resting in my dining room:

My old but adored road bike-- silver with orange decals, a little scratched up but always ready to ride.
My old but adored road bike– silver with orange decals, a little scratched up but always ready to ride.

Behold my 2003 LeMond Alpe D’Huez.  It’s been completely redone– the only original parts are the frame, fork and brakes.  It’s the bike of Theseus (this is a silly philosophy joke; read here for info).  It fits me like a glove.  I’ve had two bike fits done and it’s perfectly dialed in (I highly recommend this for anyone looking to spend a lot of time on a road bike).

So, I’ve found myself riding this bike around town: doing errands, going to the dentist, cycling to yoga, etc.  All the other bikes have been sitting in the basement, unused.  Well, I have used the new Brompton some for grocery shopping, but even it’s been a bit neglected.

Is this is a problem?  No.  I have a super-good lock when I need to leave it somewhere briefly (usually I can take it inside), and I wear cycling shorts underneath a skirt or some cute city biking shorts.  And did I mention how comfortable it is?

I bring this up because I want to say that, when we’re comfortable, we are happier doing the activities we like and want to do.  This works for clothing, this works for footwear, and it also works for bikes and other equipment we use in our activity-filled lives.

Fall is coming, which means that the cyclocross and mountain bike will get out there with me in the woods soon.  And the Brompton has some trips coming up.  But I’ll still be road cycling.  And I’m grateful to my old road bike for seeing me through a summer of transition back to regular cycling.

Readers, do you have any old or familiar gear or clothing or something that you turn to for familiarity or comfort in some physical activity?  I’d love to hear about it.


4 thoughts on “My optimal number of bikes right now is (N+1)-N

  1. I have my club jersey from Woking CC in England. It’s a familiar favourite that I love pulling on when I head out for a long ride here in Tasmania. Brings back many good memories of rides with friends, hot coffee, hard climbs and happy banter.

  2. Yoga pants! (Or trousers, as we Brits say.) When I started working from home, I gave up smart office clothes for yoga pants and hoodies. I own three pairs that are exactly the same, but really I’d like more of them. I like to be able to workout straight from my desk, so permanently living in yoga pants makes that do-able.

  3. Always so jealous of those of you living in a bike friendly community! My one bike gets very little use at this time. When my kids were smaller it was easier to tote them around with me to places in the bike trailer. Now they’re learning to ride their own bikes (one still on a glide bike and one on a single speed pedal bike) and it’s easier for me to walk or jog with them at their speed. So waiting for the time we can go on family bike rides, but in need of a rack to take the bikes to somewhere we can really get going for any decent amount of time.

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