Two days ago, the tire on our car went flat. The nature of the flat was such that the tire could not be patched, so I had to replace it with a new one. It cost $125. Unlike bicycles, cars almost always require you to replace two tires at a time, even if it means ridding yourself of a perfectly good tire in the process. So the two tires together cost $250, plus tax, disposal fees, etc. As is commonly the case, the car’s spare tire is not full-size, which means I couldn’t keep the better of the two tires I was replacing to use as the spare. If that weren’t enough, the battery on the truck I drive less than once-a-month is also shot. Replacing that will be another $100, plus tax and all the rest. So in the space of a few hours, I’m out $350, and I don’t really have much to show for it. Anyone reading this knows very well how far that same amount of money would go were it spent on bicycle-related merchandise (e.g., nearly 100 tubes, or roughly 15 tires, or about 35 chains, or enough Teflon lube to last more than 30 years).
I’ve wanted for some time now to get rid of the truck (even before I got back into bicycling, but even more so now). Part of what’s been keeping us from doing so is that it’s paid for and it isn’t costing us much (on the surface) to own it. The argument, in part, is this: what if, after we move, we realize we actually do need two vehicles? Won’t it cost us far more to replace it?
On one hand, I can certainly see the logic in this. On the other hand, I am constantly questioning when something is a legitimate (and smart) reason versus when something is an excuse, a rationalization, or even a pretense to keep doing what you’ve grown accustomed to doing. I read once that we don’t all have to ride bicycles or buy hybrid vehicles; we just need to drive the vehicles we have less. There is a lot of truth in that, to be sure. But the question is not whether I’m doing better or more than the next guy, but whether or to what extent I’m doing what I can and should be doing. It seems that there is something to be said for forcing one’s own hand. In other words, selling the truck relieves me of the option to drive it. That idea appeals to me greatly. But then I often have a tendency to be naive, idealistic, and romantic. I have a penchant for getting carried away a bit too quickly with ideas. It’s funny; I have a hard time pulling the trigger on something like this. But if a tree suddenly fell on the truck, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it, and I certainly wouldn’t replace it.
Today: currently 15-degrees with a high of 28-degrees in the forecast. Nearly a foot of snow on the ground, and the residential streets in my neighborhood have not been cleared. But the sun is shining brilliantly. I rode my bicycle to the local drugstore for shoe strings. I had to walk my bike up the hill next to my house because my tires couldn’t get traction.