June 28, 2010 by Natalie
My aspirations usually run toward minimalism. In my fantasies about myself, I live a compact life weighed down by no more than the bare essentials. At the slightest provocation I will tell you with awe and admiration how my brother’s friend has just one bookshelf and won’t keep more books that can fit on that one shelf. In my ideal future, I am equally efficient and lean by design. I may even live in a tiny house. But that’s just fantasy. Don’t look in my garage.
My bicycle obsessions tell a different story. The bikes that I own and the bikes that I covet prove me to be quite the opposite of a minimalist. I add features. My “fast bike” has the couplers and takes fenders and a rack. Even my fantasy track bike has two water bottle cages. And disc brakes. And brass fenders. And a chaingaurd. Oh! And the ability to convert it to an internally geared bike if I want. See what I mean?
My latest bike obsession has forced me to come face-to-face with my miminalist/maximalist conflict. I want an long tail. Specifically, I want to transform my Two Bite Curry city bike into the Free Ranger with the Xtracycle’s Free Radical conversion kit. If you ask me why, I will tell say:
- 15 pounds of dog food and a bale of hay
- Bike camping
- Carrying your new Sweetpea to the final fitting
- Putting my mom on the back for a picnic at Laurelhurst Park
My inner minimalist asks me if I haven’t been doing just fine with my current basket and panniers. It reminds me that I already have a trailer. My inner minimalist asks me if more “stuff” is the answer.
But here’s the catch. I don’t suppose it’s a material problem I am looking to solve. I am willing to admit that the physical things I want perhaps speak more directly to the intangible things that I want.
I want to feel that any adventure is possible.
- I want to imagine that I am one good idea away from a bike trip to the coast.
- I want to broadcast generosity of spirit at every frequency. “Let me carry that for you!” “ Can I give you a lift?”
- I want to get pulled over for reckless optimism. With my mom riding shotgun.
I don’t know yet if and when I will be getting the long tail. But I am inclined to believe that some of the best stuff you’d want to carry with you down the road doesn’t actually weigh you down at all.