Did you do algebra at school? Me too. Remember any of it? The only bit of algebra I have truly absorbed and understood is the legendary conundrum of ‘n+1’.
If you’re not familiar with this cycling-based equation let me elaborate. N + 1 refers to the correct number of bikes to own, where ‘n’ represents the number of bikes you currently own. So, if you remember what you were taught (or rather what maths teachers attempted to teach you, in my case) you will understand that the correct number of bikes to own is always n (your current number of bikes) + 1 (one more than you actually have).
It just makes inherent sense, doesn’t it? You start out, somewhere down the line, thinking ‘oh maybe I’ll get a bike. Yeah, I’d quite like a bike.’ You buy a bike. Let’s say for the sake of argument you allowed the shop assistant to talk you into buying a hybrid. Time passes. You’re happy with your hybrid – until you notice those sleek speedy speedsters zipping past you on their road bikes. All of a sudden you are utterly convinced of the case for another bike. One for everyday journeys/practical use (the hybrid) and one for when you want to get there in a hurry.
And now you have your road bike and isn’t it great? Only – hmm. After a while you notice all those gorgeous-looking trails, temptingly snaking into woodland or open fields, that you ride past on your suddenly restrictive road bike with its stupid flimsy tyres and wheels that can’t cope with rough surfaces. And you think, what I need is a super-funky mountain bike, preferably in a really rad colour like lime green, with those great big knobbly tyres for bouncing about over tree-roots and humps and protrusions.
Or maybe, if you’re me circa 2008, you fall for a beautiful blush-pink Pashley parked temptingly in the window of your local bike shop, and convince yourself that you absolutely do need a staggeringly expensive, so-heavy-it-must-be-made-of-dark-matter, three-speed Dutch bike in a shade I can only describe as flamboyant, for ‘special occasions’.
Or maybe you’ve added to your family and now you’re ogling cargo bikes or a Big Dummy. It doesn’t really matter what your situation is, or how many bikes you own. It doesn’t even matter how wonderful and perfect your current bike/bikes is/are.
There’s always room for one more.
I currently own just one bike, but it is a £2K carbon-fibre road bike which came my way courtesy of a very kind, and hopefully very forgetful, PR agency. You’d think I’d be happy with it. I am happy with it. I love it. It’s amazing.
There’s no room on the back for a kid’s seat and the tyres are far too slick and flimsy for cyclocross and there’s no way it could cope with trails and it’s got cleats and I really don’t like having to clip in and out through city traffic when I head into town and actually what I really need is my road bike, a cargo bike, a mountain bike, a CX bike, a hybrid ‘runaround’ and probably that pink Pashley again, because I’m a cycling writer and I need something flashy for photoshoots.
Actually, all of a sudden n+1 is starting to look a little bit restrictive. What do you think?
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