So what, says you, the exasperated reader, does any of this have to do with bicycles? I'm getting there, but you'll have to follow the digression rabbit a bit further down the hole. While I don't play nearly as much as I used to (in fact, i was axeless for the better part of 15 years), I do like to attend concerts -- which is sort of like a guy who never bikes but has every stage of the Giro on his DVR. And when I attend said concerts, I notice the following grotesque generalization:
Lead guitarists have a LOT of guitars. Bass players have one.
You've seen it too, right? The frantic roadies, scrambling to get set for Guitar Change #7, since, heaven forfend the lead slinger would have to play his solo on the BLUE Strat instead of the seemingly identical RED one... or even the OTHER blue one. Meanwhile, parked in the back next to the ride cymbal, the bass player is still thumping away on that same road-worn Precision for the whole dang show, and he'll thump away on it for the next show, and the next show, and the next show, until he finally just plays the frets off the thing and has to retire it.
So here's where we finally get to bikes, if you haven't dozed off already. My grotesque generalization (accurate or not) describes a type... and that type lives in the bike world too. You've got your lead guitar bikers, the ones who have a bike for dirt, a bike for gravel, a bike for asphalt, a bike for climbing, a bike for descending, a bike for riding to the store, a bike for riding to the coffee house, a bike for riding to work, a bike for racing, a bike for touring, blah blah blah blah blah. You know the guy... he's the two-wheeled Nigel Tufnel:
The biking Nigel probably even has a Campy Record bike that... you guessed it... goes to 11 (and no, I didn't write this post just to have an excuse to watch that clip and set up that joke).
But then there are the rare few bike-folk who take the bass player's approach: One trusty (and probably rusty) axe that goes to ALL the gigs. You know that guy too. The one who always seems to have brought the knife to the gunfight (commuting on a race bike? off-roading a hybrid? knobby tires on asphalt?) yet he does just fine and has a great time doing it. While others go to the bike shop to drool and melt their credit cards on the latest and greatest, he's there to pick up some spare tubes and a random drivetrain part to replace something that's been worn to a nub. He's got The One, and he doesn't need another.
As a musician, I was a bass player -- literally and figuratively. As a cyclist... well, let's say that I'm a recovering lead guitarist.