Friday, November 16, 2007

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

The other day I had a conversation with a friend who has five cats. That’s a lot of felines, but still below the acceptable threshold of 10.

We both agreed that when you exceed 10, it’s time for some sort of intervention because you’re getting dangerously close to being a stereotypical “crazy cat lady.” (I considered using the term “crazy cat person” to be gender neutral, but I don’t recall hearing about males with that many cats. It seems like the people who maintain giant herds of cats are almost always female.)

CP and I have four cats, two of which were adopted after they simply wandered into our yard. The other two were rescued from the shelter. That means we’re probably safe from being snatched up and locked in the looney bin, at least for the time being.

On the other hand, if the mental health professionals knew about my bicycles they might have second thoughts. Over the last year, my bicycle collection swelled to 15 bikes!

All of the recent additions I got for free or really cheap, so they didn’t cost me anything of real value other than lots of space in my garage. But the fact that I collected so many bikes was highly questionable, especially considering that some of them were old clunkers. What the hell was I doing collecting shitty old clunkers when I’ve got a couple nice road bikes and a really nice mountain bike?

I guess it’s because I like different kinds of bikes and like to select which one I want to ride based the length of the trip, weather conditions and a variety of other factors.

For example, when getting around town on a rainy day like today, I like to use my 10-speed Schwinn Suburban, shown below.

Schwinn Suburban in the rain

It’s a heavy, old clunker, but it appeals to me. It’s mostly made in America, with lots of heavy steel parts. Earlier in the year the bike was sitting on the sidewalk on Thiel Road with a “free” sign on it. I grabbed it, took it home, disassembled the whole thing, painted it and put it back together. It’s a nice, sturdy, slow ride. It has a utilitarian look that I find interesting. I also like getting around on something that I’ve literally torn apart and rebuilt from the ground up.

I’ll keep the Suburban for the time being, but I’m trying to whittle down the rest of my collection. Within the last month or two, I’ve sold the electric bike and given away five others.

That still leaves me with nine bikes, which is probably four too many. Five seems like a normal number.

Then again, I’m pondering a project that would give me an excuse for collecting a gross amount of bikes – at least temporarily. It would be part of some sort of charitable project involving bicycles. I still don’t have the details worked out. It’s just a rough idea rattling around in my head. It may or may not go anywhere.


Blogger Jerome said...

Run with your idea Jack! I think it will be a great one. I've got the same issue with somehow finding value in free, junky bikes. However, there are many great components on some of these old bikes. Where I work now is located right beside the local recycling facility, and they have a bike rack there where people leave old bikes when they're done with them, and also the town drops off the bikes that were stolen and not claimed, or just left. 4 times a year they drop about 50 bikes or so. I used to strip down the good ones and sell some of the parts on eBay, I've built a few up and sold as polo fixies, and I've kept several (too many) for myself, just because they fit a niche that none of my current rides fit. I've built 4 of them up and given them to co-workers to start commuting on, and it's been very rewarding. 2 of them ride every single day now, rain or shine. Heck they ride more than I do, when before I gave them the bike, it'd been years since they've ridden a bike. I say this: If you've got room for more bikes, you have justified having more bikes! These aren't cats we're talking about. Cheers.

7:28 AM  

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