The deadly bargain

This one should serve as a warning.

The fateful journey began two weeks ago. I had just finished a particularly painful morning shift, I am currently working for a major retail chain that shall remain nameless. On this occasion the unpleasant customers had come out in force, the rude, the stupid and in one case the smelly. Suffice to say my outlook was less than positive upon arriving home. In an attempt to cheer myself up I sat down with the calculator and worked out the size of my pay check. Having dropped out of one University course and enrolled on another, the responsible course of action would of course be to save my earnings so as to pay off the enormous debt that I have already accumulated (sadly this is the case for most students nowadays, I’ll spare you my rant regarding that one).

I noted with some satisfaction that this next wage slip would push my total savings over the 2k mark, this deduction turned out to be the first major mistake. The second one came when I received an email from a well known online cycle retailer – sadly it contained details of a mid season sale. Since becoming a student I have become good at fending off the inevitable urges that come with an email such as this ( I suspect most established cyclists will know what I am talking about here). I resisted looking any further, deciding instead to be sensible. By this point the seed had been sewn and begun to take root.

The next day, circumstances conspired against me (at least that’s what I tell myself). It fell to me to complete that most exceptionally boring domestic task – the mid week family shop. In order to get through it I thought it sensible to treat myself a little – there is a bike shop five minutes drive from the local supermarket. What harm, I thought, is there in just having a look? After all I had resisted the temptation of the sale the previous day, why not celebrate my new found restraint by going to the bike shop, admiring the items within and not making any purchase.

Upon walking in, I was, as per usual drooling over the various bikes on display I suspect the majority of people reading this have had this experience. Range topping TT bikes bedecked with the latest aerodynamic equipment, sitting alongside featherweight climbing bikes – how many KOM’s could I get atop one of those? I asked myself.

It was then that I saw her – right down in the bottom corner of the shop, sat amongst a group of other machines. Deep down I knew this would lead to trouble, yet I could not help but go for a closer look – I was not disappointed. This bike was just perfect – a well know aero model, sporting a full ultegra groupset, aero stem, carbon seat post and a shiny paint job. It was a model I had dreamed of owning on many previous occasions, and it just happened to be in the sale. A reduction of 500 pounds from the RRP – putting the bike at, you guessed it, just over 2k.

The rational side of me was very quickly overwhelmed. I’m sure the man in the shop spotted the look in my eyes from the moment I asked if I he could remove the bike from the shelf for me. He informed me that a small deposit would ensure she would be there for me, as soon as I could afford the rest of the cost I could take her home.

It didn’t take much persuading after that, merely a short trip home in order to skim through various reviews of the model – finding even more reasons to buy it. I discussed it with my parents, who were surprisingly supportive (my father is a fellow cyclist, my mother is therefore accustomed to the purchasing of new bikes for no good reason).

One week later and the bike is sitting in my bedroom – no room to keep it anywhere else (at least I don’t think so – perhaps I ought to look). Now sporting an upgraded handlebar which was offered to me at 10% discount, setting me back a further sum. Of course its needed new tyres, tubes, bottle cages, skewers, valve caps and bolts. I then find myself asking, whats the point of having an aero bike without a pair of deep section carbon wheels? Suffice to say my Uni debt hasn’t got any smaller and isn’t likely to in the foreseeable future.

Of course I can rationalise it – phrases such as “you only live once”, “it’s a good investment for the future”, “it will give me a massive advantage in races”, “it was a really good price” and, most prominently “I’ve worked really hard to earn that money, why shouldn’t I spend it on something fun”. Deep down I know it wasn’t a sensible decision, but its going to be a long time before that stops being outweighed by the sheer joy that only a new bike can bring. Let future me worry about the consequences (that man I feel, is not in for an easy time).

At the very least, my mistake can be used in order to educate others, and myself in order to stop making impulse purchases:

1) Don’t look at the prices of new bikes after a bad day at work.
2) Don’t look too closely at how much money you have managed to ‘save’ – it’ll become increasingly tempting to spend it until the urge becomes overwhelming.
3) Don’t ever go into a bike shop to ‘just have a look’ – you won’t come out with a full wallet.

However, as we all know – the correct number of bikes is N+1 (N being the number of bikes you already own). Your improved mood will benefit your family – explain this to them before announcing the cut backs that might need to be made as a result (who needs food and electricity anyway?). And of course, its ok to treat yourself once in a while – better a new bike than an unhealthy takeaway or large amounts of alcohol. The above is merely an extract from a massive range of available excuses.

On that, I’ll stop writing. Its time to go for a ride – on my old bike of course, wouldn’t want to risk damaging the new one by taking it outside.

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