Sometimes letting go is hard to do…
My name is Chris, and I'm a hoarder. I find it difficult to throw things away. Not everything, you understand. I don't keep my urine in assorted milk bottles or that sort of thing, so I'm not about to feature in a Channel 4 documentary – at least not for a while. I only keep things that might be of use to me in the future. Don't I?
The trouble is that others don't always think that these things are useful. Round at my parents' house the other day my Dad gave me a carrier bag of bits and bobs I had put aside perhaps 25 years ago. The choice items in the bag are those you see above. Broken front and rear derailleurs – Suntour VX and something from Huret. Those little screws could surely come in handy? And what about the barrel adjusters now that rear mountain bike derailleurs don't always come with them as standard? How far-sighted am I?
I can trace back my hoarding to the age of nine. I bought a comic, or boys' magazine, called 'Action'. To my knowledge it remains the only children's publication to be banned. I have every copy, as well as the first forty-odd "programmes" of 2000AD.
I understand that hoarding can be associated with bereavement. My maternal granddad died around this time. Perhaps that explains why I wanted to keep something that was important to me in that period of my life. I really don't know.
I can remember being in bed and my Dad bringing me the copy that featured a partially blind boxer on the cover. I was poorly and he also gave me some throat pastilles that came in a tin with a hinged lid. I also remember the Hook Jaw iron-on transfer that peeled off my T-shirt. And other stuff...
Is there something about the obsessive hoarder that somehow steers them towards cycling? When parts break but bits of them seem (re)usable doesn't it make sense to keep hold of them, just in case? And with standards changing ever faster in cycling gear doesn't it make sense to stock up on bits that could be unavailable in the near future? Doesn't that excuse the Deore Shadow 9sp rear derailleur (oh, and two M772 Deore XT Shadow 9spd rear derailleurs) tucked away in a T-shirt cupboard upstairs)?
Is it inevitable that the obsession spreads to things having to match, even if it means spending money replacing things that work perfectly well actually? My latest road bike came with a mishmash of decent Shimano kit on it, but some was non-series gear and after a year I set about swapping components out so that now everything in the group set matches. (Apart from the Tiagra cassette and KMC chain, but then Father Christmas put those last things right in preparation for nicer weather in the spring.) There, that's better.
Dave Barter got in to a bit of Twitter trouble when he was accused by some of making fun of obsession, specifically OCD. His response was to add a paragraph to the print and ebook editions of Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder, something he also writes about on his blog. I must admit to feeling uncomfortable about the title of a blog post I wrote last year, but not as anxious as the feeling I had when it looked like ice would keep me from my favourite coffee on my last ride.
So is some degree of obsession inevitable in the psyche of the cyclist? Keeping old stuff that is probably useless; tying up cash in stockpiles of kit that will probably be available cheaper in the future; making sure that your valve caps match the colour of your frame? Writing about this sort of thing when you have more important stuff to –