Looking around our home over the last few weeks, I’ve found many items to donate or discard. Most of them were no-brainers – mugs, usually – but a few were larger things that I’ve been holding onto with good intentions but no follow up. These were projects I’d promised myself to complete, items I meant to fix, or scraps that would someday come together into a hole.
Minimizing meant acknowledging that some projects would never be completed and letting those things go. It also, conversely, meant filling in the holes in our lives that had also been neglected in the same fashion.
Sometimes, I realized, to become more minimalist and have more time for oneself, you had to acquire something new.
In that light, I determined that finally having a functioning bicycle was, in fact, a minimalist endeavor. Keyword: functioning. I’ve had a defunct bike for the past four years now, taking up space in my office and continually reminding me that I made mistakes. My parents shipped it out to me from their place waaay back when we first moved to the desert and I somehow switched the pedals up when I put it together. This resulted in the stripping away of the interior of one crank arm while I biked back and forth to my new job as a (wait-for-it) bike builder. One time after biking to work, the pedal fell off and refused to go back on. Well, no wonder.
Since then I’ve replaced the crank arm and the pedal myself and paid a bike shop to repair it. No dice. Each time the bike worked for a ride or two, then the pedal would start wonking and threaten to fall off. The bike shop which fixed it closed within a month of the repair, otherwise I would have brought it back. Faced with those failures, I couldn’t convince myself to try again, so the bike just sat unused, taking up space and mocking me. I really wanted a working bike, but all I had was a defunct one. I couldn’t get a new one when I still had one I’d put all that time and effort into. Maybe I’d fix it one day.
Finally I realized as I cast around our apartment for things to declutter that it just wasn’t going to happen and that I was laboring under the sunk costs fallacy. I might have sunk too much money into that bike’s repairs, money I didn’t want going to waste, but at the same time that bike was continuing to suck money from me just sitting there, unused. If I had a functioning bike, I thought, we could cut down on gas. We could bike to the grocery store, to our garden, to the chickens. Now that a majority of our friends all live within a block of each other, we could bike to them. We live in a really good, bikeable area and we weren’t taking advantage of it because of my stupid, nonfunctional bike.
That needed to change.
It would cost money initially, but I figured we would easily save that much in gas over the coming year. I thought about it for a while, did some calculations, then began researching online for what I should look for and what I should expect, costs-wise. And wow – bikes are a shit ton more expensive than they were growing up. Holy cow.
I narrowed down the local shops to three I wanted to try and we went to the first one Saturday morning after weightlifting. The shop had good reviews and right away we spotted a few bikes outside that were on sale and pretty close to our price range. Within a few more minutes the owner had shown us two more and I fell in love with the second. I walked out of that first shop with an unexpected bike.
It’s a beautiful aluminum hybrid with 21 gears and an upright stance. She looks a bit like this, but with a brown seat and grips.
So far, I love my new bike. I still feel a spike of panic when I think too hard about the money spent, but in the end it will be worth it. And granted, I’ve been feeling a spike of panic when we buy groceries lately, so I think I’m just super sensitive about money right now. We’ve biked to the garden and we’ve bike to our friends and I keep asking Lady if she just wants to go for a bike ride in the morning. So far: no. But we’ll see.
Although we officially acquired more stuff, I feel so much freer with this new bike. And that, after all, is really what I’m aiming for with this whole minimalism charge.