“Going once, going twice … Sold, for fifty pounds!”
I collected the medley of rust with two wheels that called itself a bike and thought, “What the hell have I just bought?”
Auctions suck you in. One minute you have all your faculties and no intention of spending more than £20 on something you sincerely need. In a blur you are poorer to the tune of £21,000 and the (not-so) proud owner of a taxidermy ostrich or LeBron James’ underpants.
As my wife will tell you, I definitely don’t need another bike. But with this I’m one step closer to the magic number of six bikes that all cycling enthusiasts should own at some point (road, mountain, cross, foldable, single-speed, cruiser) and the proceeds go to charity so my conscience is at least somewhat clean.
After the chain fell off for the third time I started to really regret my purchase.
To be constantly overtaken hurt my pride. The squeak from the chain hurt my ears. The upright position hurt my arse. The jolt from a slipping chain hurt my balls. Bending down to change gear on the downtube shifters hurt my back, not to mention the thump on the head I received from my rucksack in bending forward so far.
My car is a “please don’t die, please don’t die!” affair. I’m used to driving it somewhere knowing full well that that somewhere could be its final resting place. But I look after my bikes and pride myself on a clean, oiled, fully-functioning steed. I knew that once it was home I could spruce it up nicely, but to ride such a heap of junk for just ten miles was embarrassing – probably backlogged embarrassment in lieu of what I don’t feel when driving my crappy car.
Things started to look up when the chain fell off again, though this time I carried on pedalling making it leap back onto the big chainring as if possessed. Twice! I avoided changing gear; I pedalled against braking to keep the chain taught; I limited my freewheeling and hence rode most bumps sitting in the saddle but by God I got it home in one piece.
An evening was lost to tinkering and the kitchen floor was lost to a dismantled, upside-down bike. I’m still not entirely sure what I’m going to do with it, or why I bought it.
This isn’t the first time I’ve bought something during a momentary cognitive lapse and it definitely won’t be the last. Such additions to my menagerie of strange kit include:
Hemp Tilley Hat
“I’d disown my son if he bought one of those.” This spoken to me by the man in the queue as I was entering my pin into the machine.
For all intents and purposes it’s a floppy sun-hat that makes you look a bit daft, but the crafty Canadians at Tilley convince you that it is so much more.
The accessory tag reels off many of the hat’s outstanding features. It floats! it proudly boasts. Well, occasionally so do some of my stools, but I wouldn’t pay sixty quid for them. The bit of string that stops it flying off in wind is referred to as the front and back wind cords system. The secret valuables pocket is quite cool though, like if James Bond were into birdwatching and wore khaki.
Extortionate Black Diamond Climbing Helmet
There comes a point where an upturned metal colander and piece of string just won’t cut it. What will cut it is a relatively basic climbing helmet around the £30 mark. I chose to spend £100 on the most lavish one available.
Whilst this is undeniably frivolous, this helmet does have some great points. It is so light that you forget it’s on your head. Unlike almost any other helmet I have owned it doesn’t look perched on my head like I’m hiding baked goods under there. Both of these things mean you rarely take it off – and a helmet is only of any use when it’s actually on your head.
This helmet is also ideal for creating the illusion of rubbing shoulders with those in the higher echelons of climbing – legends like Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold and Dave MacLeod have all been known to sport the BD Vapour. It’s fair to say my helmet probably climbs better than I do.
Sometimes a childish affinity for something takes over and you no better explanation for why you bought something other than “I just like it.” I think this is a ski/snowboard goggle case. To me, it is a general tat box, a great way of storing odd bits of adapter/charger/wire. It served this purpose when we travelled over the USA, being referred to as “the thing” for six months.
So here’s to many more happy years of buying stuff you don’t need! I’ve got a whole midlife crisis to come yet – definitely a buying stuff one: I don’t think a mistress is my thing. Even if it was, who’d have me if they knew I owned a Tilley hat?