A small town in Oxfordshire; it’s Saturday afternoon. A car pulls into the car park of a large DIY store and parks well away from any others. Moments later another car arrives and parks next to the first. The drivers glance at each other and nod; although they’ve never met or even spoken to each other, the rendezvous is acknowledged.
Driver 1 gets out and moves to the rear of Car 1. Driver 2 moves to the rear of Car 2. Driver 1 takes something from his car and places it in the back of Car 2. Driver 2 hands over an envelope. Driver 1 quickly checks the contents and pockets the envelope. A few niceties, a handshake and business is complete. They get into their respective vehicles and leave. Car 1 heads East, Car 2 heads West. They will never meet again.
I have, with great reluctance and after a lot of thought, sold my road bike. This was the bike I ordered from my hospital bed in June 2010 – my reward to myself for getting through lung surgery intact. Or rather, what I though was intact at the time. And why not? Three days after surgery I was, to the amazement and delight of the doctors, riding an exercise bike. “You’ll be back on your bike in 6-8 weeks”. Such high hopes. That was before the heart decided to stamp its feet and before we knew that the tumour had not gone quietly. The ‘seedlings’ it left behind needed intensive radiotherapy and it was this that did for my full recovery rather than the surgery.
According to my bike computer I have ridden just 16.9 miles on this bike since June 2010. Annie has this thing about clothes – if she gets £1 per wear out of it she can justify (to herself, not me) putting it in the charity bag (also known as Emma’s wardrobe). So if a coat costs £100 and she wears it 100 times, she’s reached her target of £1/wear. At least that’s the theory. And like all theories – it’s great in theory.
I try applying this model to the bike – and quickly give up. Current running costs (pence/mile) are 10 times greater than an Aston Martin DB9¹.
And it’s not really a suitable candidate for an electric motor. Quite apart from how it might look – and let’s not dismiss looks – no one wants to be seen on a carthorse when they own a thoroughbred – the lightweight frame and in particular, the slender carbon forks might not cope with the forces generated by a heavy rotating motor. Carbon is strong – they make aircraft wings out of it – but it doesn’t bend like metal. Carbon failure, when it occurs, is catastrophic. I do not want to end up on the deck when forks and motor suddenly part company at speed.
I don’t have a spreadsheet for this. But I do have a coffee and a think. Time to get realistic – my road bike is just not going to earn its keep. So I may as well sell it and take the money. Once I make the decision it all happens very quickly; an advert placed on a bike forum and it’s gone in two days. A couple of emails exchanged, a rendezvous arranged and that’s it. He gets a nice bike, I get a reality cheque.