A Bike Hoarders Road to Recovery

Can you really own too many bikes?

too many mountain bikesI have a confession to make. I’m a hoarder. But I’m not one of those senile nuts you see on an A&E television series, buried alive under bottomless piles of useless  junk. Certainly not like them, but a hoarder nonetheless. I like to think of it as just an innocent little case of bike hoardery.

I have always considered myself a mountain biker, and have pursued as many aspects of the sport as I could. For as far back as I can remember, I have not just liked, but loved, my bikes. When I was a child, my one and only bike was all I needed. It could take me anywhere my heart desired. It was a child’s ticket to freedom! Only after finishing school and finding a job as a young adult did it even occur to me that I could own more than one bike. I don’t remember the exact event, but at some point in my late teens, my life as a bike hoarder began.

It looked a little something like this:

When all there was to ride in my town were XC singletracks and forestry roads, one bike was all I needed for mountain biking.

When our local ski hill opened its lifts to mountain bikes the first time, I discovered that I needed a downhill bike.

When the city built a sweet outdoor skateboard park, and the dirt jump scene was starting to take off here, I discovered I needed a 26” dirt jumper and a BMX .

When I became old enough to go to the bar and get drunk enough to become really irresponsible, I discovered I also needed a really cheap and shitty town bike, to ensure my really good bikes wouldn’t get stolen out from under me.

A DH bike, an XC bike, a DJ bike, a BMX and an old shitty townie.

Sounds like enough doesn’t it? But, as you are about to see, it didn’t stop there.

Owning and maintaining five bikes, (though in reality, i guess it would have been four since it is against my unwritten law to spend money, or much time on fixing shitty town bikes) is probably too much for most people, but for me it was a hobby. Hacking on bikes is something I love to do almost as much as riding them. Of course, the thing about hobbies is that if pursued to their max, they eventually turn into jobs, and thus began my career as a bicycle mechanic. A bike hoarders dream come true!

Eating, drinking and sleeping bikes is a great life, but it can get expensive. Working in a bike shop helps keep the costs down. I already had enough bikes, but it wouldn’t be wise to waist a pro-deal, would it? More bikes, more bikes, more bikes…

My XC bike was fast on the uphills, but it I really liked the way my DH bike descended, so I soon learned to keep an all-mountain bike in my fleet.

And for XC, the five inch travel bike was usually the fastest, but sometimes you just can’t beat the efficiency of a hardtail, so I got one of those too.

So far I’ve only talked about the ‘proper’ bikes at my house, but that wasn’t all of it.
Outside the house was a growing pile of dumpy, old, used shit bikes.

a pile of used bikes

If your shed looks like this, contact me. I can help!

You see, my hobby, (or problem,) entices me to bring home every broken bike I find at the dump. I think it is a shame people throw away bikes that can still be made to work (sometimes people even throw away bikes that are in working order!) so, out of my own good will, I toss them in the van and take them home to fix-up and give a away to some deserving person needing a bike for around town. Good on me.

Actually, there are some problems with that last sentence.

It’s not so much good-will that beckons me to bring dump bikes home, it’s the hoarder within. And though I do give some of them away, my hoarder self will get the best of me and I keep the ones I like most.

But enough already. I hope I wasn’t  boring you while bragging about how many bikes I own.

As time goes by, some of us need to grow up and take on more responsibility. Sounded good to me, so my girlfriend and I got married, and we moved into our first home together. With the addition of her two bikes, (a mountain bike and a townie. She’s not a hoarder,) something had to give.

For the first time in my life, I felt the push to come to grips with my problem. First to go was the pile of townie bikes in the back yard. I kept the three i rode most, and gave the rest away.

Getting rid of the junkers in the backyard wasn’t so hard, but could I part with one of my precious mountain bikes? if you have as many bikes as I had, it gets to the point where you barely have time or reason to ride some of them, and they just take up space in the house. So it didn’t take too much nudging from my wife to convince me that I should get rid of the bikes that aren’t being ridden so much.

I don’t like selling my bikes. I hate it. I don’t have time to get into the emotions involved when a bike hoarder “let’s one get away”. Let’s just say…its complex.

You’ll be happy to know that I was a good husband by selling two of my all-mountain bikes, but you might be a little disappointed to find out that I turned around and bought another one with the money I received for them.

What can I say? Making a full recovery from anything takes some time.

Two more years have ticked by, and now my wife and I have a 4 month old baby girl. With the addition of her Chariot trailer and stroller, we are tight on space in the shed again!

So I have once again made the brave decision to sell some bikes. I plan on whittling my quiver down to just thr…choke…three mountain bikes! A dirt jumper, a downhill bike, and an all-mountain hardtail.

Can I live with only three mountain bikes? Other people seem to do just fine with only one or two, so I’m prepared to give it a shot.

I still don’t feel good about getting rid of bikes, but I can’t say I feel bad about it either. Just sort of indifferent, I guess. After all, there are more important things in life these days, like raising my baby girl. Biking for me this next couple of years is now mostly about temporarily escaping from my hectic new family life. It doesn’t matter so much what I’m riding, only that I can get away for an hour or so each day!

Wish me well. Bike hoarding is not an easy habit to kick. I realize I’m not in the clear yet. I just ordered my wife a hardtail for a second bike, and though I keep saying to myself that I did it for her, I can’t help fearing that this action’s been tainted by my hoarder self. Worse yet, maybe she’s caught it from me, and next thing you know, she’s looking for a downhill bike or something else too?

Then there’s my daughter, who next summer is going to be getting her first balance bike…

Now that I think of it, we should just get a bigger bike shed!

6 thoughts on “A Bike Hoarders Road to Recovery

  1. I feel your pain! I’m looking at selling one of my bikes right now to make room for another and it’s breaking my heart! We won’t mention how many bikes my significant other and I own between the two of us though… We’re the epitome of N+1 ;)

  2. I can’t wait until you get a ‘roadie’….like us.
    I’ve gone to the point of stripping bikes down and putting the stuff on a new frame, its easier to keep old frames :-)

  3. Pingback: Are You a Bike Hoarder, Too? | The Trail Mayor

  4. So, you still need a trials bike (or is that your BMX?), a fat tire, and a single-speed. j/k I understand the bond a rider has with their bike but when I’m ready to move on, I gotta let it go like an ex-girlfriend.

  5. Pingback: Art, Sculpture and Bicycle Culture | BikeFAT

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