Sam Waters ponders how many shiny bikes are sat, unused in garages, for fear of scratching them.
Mr Holman over the road from me has an Audi Quattro and a Ford. The Quattro stays in his garage six days a week, but every Sunday he wheels it out on to the drive and spends the morning preening it and fettling under the bonnet before coaxing it back to its quarters in time for lunch. I always give him a cheery ‘Hello’ as I ride past, but behind my Oakleys I roll my eyes and wonder how a car could’ve got dirty or developed a mechanical by being reversed ten yards once a week. I ride on, feeling superior and ever so slightly self-righteous. Mr Holman, I think, should get himself a proper hobby.
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Since then I’ve continued to lavish time and money on the bike of wonder, but I haven’t ridden the thing for two months now. While ordinary bikes will share responsibility with us for failure and weakness, a squeak on an über-bike can render it worse than useless, an object
of unbearable embarrassment. The need for technological perfection becomes a paralysing burden. The fallibility of the bike becomes the imperfection of the rider, who vanishes up his own neurotic backside. Perhaps I’ve got more in common with old Mr Holman than I ever realised. Obsession with perfection keeps both of us at home dreading that our machines might be soiled by the dirt they were made for. Dirt causes squeaks. Angst Durch Technik: Anxiety Through Technology.
Bikes are for riding, no matter what their imperfections might be. Like cars, they aren’t there to pamper and adore. I mean, what sort of person has a bike he never rides? Narcissus, that’s who. Oh, and me…