I’m reading a book – ‘The Life-changing art of tidying’ – It is a Japanese guide to clearing clutter, getting rid of things you don’t need and creating space. It advises starting off with the easiest categories first – clothes, books, paper and then moving onto most difficult categories like photos and sentimental stuff.
Well, all that went swimmingly – even the so called sentimental childhood photos going in the bin without so much as a demur. I was getting great joy from clearing the clutter. But, the really difficult category that the Japanese author failed to mention was that of miscellaneous cycle parts…
Firstly, where to start? I have miscellaneous cycle parts littered all around the house – outside shed, conservatory, cupboard under the stair, cupboard in living room, window sill in living room, not forgetting the black hole which is my loft. There are also three very old wheels, suffering various degrees of rust – stuffed into gaps between house and shed. I didn’t dare look at the back of garden, in case I found a long forgotten rusting old 501 frame unearthed under a heap of rubble. The only room which could be considered cycle free is the bathroom – as long as we ignore the road rash bandages and creams to reducing itching in the skin – post-epilation / waxing of the legs.
One thing the book suggests is that you must keep all categories in the same place. I was getting off to a bad start, with cycle parts dotted around the house and everywhere else as well. (I even have a secret collection of cycle parts at my parents home in Yorkshire…)
You never know how much stuff you have
One claim this book makes is that you will never believe how many items of stuff you actually have. This is very true.
I counted 27 pairs of gloves, plus 7 miscellaneous singles – mostly an attempt to keep hands warm whilst cycling in winter, but also about four pairs of aero gloves. Maybe I should start going to gloves anonymous. It really is too much.
The next worse category was rear red lights. I counted maybe ten and half different rear lights – the legacy of trying to get a rear light which will go around an aero seat post. It wouldn’t be so bad if you had whole cycling parts, but what happens over the years of sitting on the shelf is that the key components invariable gets detached from some small, but vital part to fix it in place.
I do have one excuse that sometimes I get sent items for review. It always seems like a good idea at the time, to get another free rear light. But when you have ten rear lights and four bicycles, what are you going to do with an eleventh?
Other things you end up accumulating
- Allen keys – I have about seven 5mm allen keys, but I can never find a 4mm allen key when I need it.
- Tubulars – some repaired, some punctured, some worn out, some new, not forgetting the tubulars which are so light and fragile I can only use once a year at the national hill climb championship.
- Aero helmets – My attic is a graveyard for partially deceased aerohelmets. I’m sure (hope) I’m not the only timetriallist to suffer this phenomenon.
- Bolts – just lots of random bolts and bits, which you have long forgotten the purpose of, but can’t bear to throw away in case you really need.
- Parts to speedometers. One of the great modern inventions is the Garmin style computer; wireless, easy to fit, doesn’t require magnets, wires and cable ties. After using a Garmin for three years, I’m reaching that point where I start to have the confidence to throw away these random parts of old speedometers, magnets, holders, e.t.c It is a real relief.
- Overshoes. Overshoes last about six days before they start to fray. What happens is that when they start to fray, I buy a brand new pair for ‘important races’ But of course keep the partially frayed overshoes for ‘less important races’. The problem is I now have about 12 pairs of ‘partially worn’ overshoes. I could rank them in terms of raggedness and match to importance of race. That would be a good use of time…
What criteria can you use to throw away cycle equipment?
The wonderful Japanese book suggests the key to successful tidying is to keep only those objects which give you joy. When it comes to things like ‘brick a brak’, clothes and books – this is a wonderful idea. But, how do cycling components fit into this equation?
Does the random 4mm bolt I found in the kitchen drawer give joy? No, I’d love to throw it away. But, if I do – I can guarantee in two weeks, I will be missing said bolt. If I keep it on the other hand, the bolt will lie around for the next ten years doing nothing more than getting in the way and making it irritatingly hard to find what I really need.
Things hang around for ever
In the search of the cycle sheds, I found things I bought right at the start of my cycling journey, for example, things I bought for 2005 national 100 mile TT championship, but have never used. Obviously I haven’t thrown away because I might need it in the next decade.
Take clip on tri bars. I bought specifically for the 2011 national hill climb championship – they only weighed 200 grams or something silly light. I thought I was being clever, but later realised I should have just used bongo bongo TT bike. But, I can’t quite bring myself to sell or throw away because there is still a hill climb, where there is a slight possibility I might want to use – under rare circumstances.
For example, I reckon clip on tribars could be helpful if you did Porlock HC (average 6% gradient, 3% at top) into a headwind. That’s maybe one hill climb every two to three years – and I have to hold onto it, just in case.
If you take up cycling, I advise specialising in one discipline. Don’t be a hill climber/long distance timetriallist/commuter/ road rider because you’re accumulation of stuff will be four times worse. (And people ask why I don’t try cyclo-cross in winter…)
O for the days when a single fixed wheel bike was sufficient…
Every year – you always accumulate something new you have to keep for a very long time. This year it was UCI fork / handlebar for Speed Concept TT bike, I will have to keep lying around in case I do another UCI time trial. Maybe the Master’s world hour record for over 60 year olds. It gives no joy, but I’m not making that mistake of selling on ebay for a fiver and then having to rebuy for £400.
Selling on ebay
As mentioned here, I’m trying to sell quite a bit of stuff on ebay. I’m not optimistic of getting a too good price. The collective amount from about 20 items, could easily be blown on one new wheel, but at least there will be more space to rebegin my process of random accumulation of cycle parts.
By the way, my house is now looking like a paragon of Zen simplicity, just don’t peak your head into the cycle shed…
- Bike maintenance tips