Published Somedays

Why I Spend Money on Bikes

June 8 , 2005 -- I spend a lot of money on bikes. I shouldn't spend so much money, because I'm going to have another kid to raise and start saving college tuition for. I figure I spend about three grand a year, not including the cost of the biking trips I take. When I think about how much consumer debt there is in this country today and how I could be saving and investing this money, I feel guilty. Household debt is growing faster than income and spending. Mortgage debt and adjustable-rate and interest-only loans are at record levels. When the party comes to an end, which it will, it's going to be ugly. Will I still be spending as much on bikes? Probably.

I'm not really trying to justify my spending, but point out how it may be less expensive for me in the long run to do so. So if it sounds like rationalization...you know, I really don't care. I like bikes. We're all going to die someday and in 100 years no one's going to give a rat's ass about us anyway unless it's where to dump our grave so they can make room for the new housing development.

I only really have one hobby I spend any significant money on: bikes, duh. If I didn't bike I probably would still be lifting weights and doing little aerobic activity. I say this because that is what I was doing before getting into bikes. I hate running, and basically any other aerobic form of activity other than biking.

So let's say that I don't spend any money on bikes. All I have is my trusty old steel hardtail which I never upgrade, and my ability remains at the recreational level like when I first started, and I ride on the weekends only - once a week. So say I put away the $3000 each year into a mutual fund that earns on average a healthy 6% average annual return. Say I start when I'm 35, so by the time I'm 65, thanks to the magic of compounding I have $251,405. Wow! Looking at it this way, that's a lot of money I'm spending on bikes. After adjusting for inflation the equivalent purchasing power of that money in today's dollars is roughly $150,000. Still a good chunk of change. Am I foregoing too much of my future savings? Should I wait until I am retired at 65 and then buy the best bike money can buy with all that cash?

Maybe not. For one thing, I may be dead. High blood pressure tends to run in my family. So does diabetes. Last time I went to the doctor which was about two years ago he told me my blood pressure was high-normal. If I don't bike, I may develop hypertension or some other disease due to lack of aerobic activity and work-related stress. Medical costs are growing staggeringly fast, and a disease can wipe out that amount in a single operation or treatment. But let's assume I have coverage, like Medicare. My out-of-pocket costs are limited. However, they are not insignificant. They could easily amount to tens of thousands annually. In addition, I may need some type of constant care and that is expensive and may cause significant stress on my family. Regardless of the amount, I will be suffering or face a premature death. Am I willing to sacrifice myself for my kids and wife?

I think about the time we had to take Will to the hospital in Irvine, CA one night because he was sick and the doctor's office is not open on the weekends. While we were waiting with him in the emergency room, there was a man lying in bed in the room next to us who appeared to be in his early 40s, maybe younger. He wasn't overweight or anything; he looked healthy as far as I could tell. But evidently not. We could hear the doctor informing him and his wife that he had had a minor heart attack and if he didn't start making significant changes he wouldn't live much longer and he would have to have surgery and all this really bad, scary shit I can't even remember but it made the guy start crying. I remember thinking, "Holy crap! I do NOT want to be in this guy's shoes if I can help it." I fucking hate hospitals.

I'm not saying if I don't spend $3000 a year I am going to get sick. Maybe I can spend less, or maybe I don't need to spend anything. But it sure does help me to ride lots. Yeah I do complain about some of these high-end parts, but overall I couldn't be happier. Mountain biking is also the best activity I've found for reducing stress. The reason it works so well is because you have to stay constantly focused on the trail ahead of you. If you don't and start thinking about some stupid problem at work then you're going to fuck up and crash. Staying focused on the trail clears your mind. By the time you're finished with your ride you can't even remember what you were so stressed about. It's great.

So I think I'd rather just work a little harder and a little longer and focus on being frugal in other areas. And as far as waiting until I retire to buy the best bike money can buy, I already own it. It's called a Turner.

-Sir Bikes-a-lot