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?

Just in case...

Just in case...

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.

IPC Action Boys' Magazine 1976 to 1977 pre- and post-ban

IPC Action full collection pre- and post-ban (plus first edition of Battle Action 19 Nov 1977 to 21 Jan 1978, but 3 December 1977 missing).

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...


2000AD was the magazine that first featured Judge Dredd. In issue two or three, I think. (2000AD Programme 1 to 44; programme 46 and 47.)

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 –

11 comments on “Sometimes letting go is hard to do…”

  1. Patrick wrote:

    I'm not sure that hoarding is obsessive as such. I suppose it might be sometimes but generally it's maybe more about personal indiscipline, putting off decisions to deal with things. Cyclists have old bits lying around and it's easier stashing them away somewhere than making an irreversible decision. But what then? After a few years you forget what you've got, or if you've remembered, actually finding it amongst the rest of the junk.

    On my old Peugeot ATB the seat tube is not exactly central on the centreline of the bike. It bothered me to the extent of going to bike shops to see if they were all like that, which they weren't – it is supposed to be central. It's got nothing to do with cycling though, as I am the same with everything that is not vertical or horizontal or symmetrical but should be. It's a preoccupation with exactness if not OCD. Quirks like this, or little routines, are part of what makes us individual aren't they?

    Swapping components out so that everything in the group set matches seems natural to me, Chris. It just means you have a nicer bike. As far as the magazines are concerned, the only action required is to make sure your son doesn't have to deal with them several decades from now.

  2. Ian wrote:

    Suntour VX?
    I am still riding my Higgins trike on this derailleur

  3. Kern wrote:

    I don't think hoarding is a harbinger of obsessive compulsion. But cleanliness is. Just look at how those old components gleam!

  4. Hilary wrote:

    I would hoard given half a chance but I've moved around too often and there is nothing like having to pack stuff into boxes and then into a van to make you realise that perhaps you don't need it after all!

    I do have one strange quirk though (only one I hear you ask!) 🙂 Every time I fit a new chain I remove a few links first but I can't bring myself to throw them away so I have a little pile of them. What I think they will ever come in useful for I can't imagine but there they sit in a corner of a shelf. One day I'll throw them out – honest!

  5. John wrote:

    I know of one cheapskate who keeps all her spare bits of chain in the hope of having enough to make a full chain one day!

  6. Chris wrote:

    John wrote: I know of one cheapskate who keeps all her spare bits of chain in the hope of having enough to make a full chain one day!

    Yes, I think I do too.

    Ian, let me know if you need any spares 🙂 – they're not as shiny as Kern makes out. I think it was maybe the filler flash 😕

    Patrick wrote: As far as the magazines are concerned, the only action required is to make sure your son doesn't have to deal with them several decades from now.


  7. Patrick wrote:

    We must clear up after ourselves and not leave our rubbish for next generations (IMO). Of course I am not saying collectibles are rubbish but it's still a matter of their owner 'dealing' with them at some point or another so they don't become someone else's thing to deal with. It's easier said than done but I've got bike bits and the purge is coming...


  8. kate wrote:

    My name is Kate and I am married to the hoarder. I have now found out from reading this post that many of the things Chris claims are essential to his bike are not essential at all. This hoarding does not stop at bike parts (and bikes), cycling magazines and comics but lesson plans from his teacher training year 11 years ago I could go on but I won' may be the cause of an annulment in years to come...

  9. John wrote:

    My name is Chris i excitedly bought every issue of those comics when i was a kid ..i lost my complete set of Action going on holiday with them one year the ferry to the Isle Of White began to sink and my plastic bag carrying the lot went out to sea! I went back to school and bought the entire collection off a mate for 50 p..but for the life of me now i cant remember what happened to it damn !

  10. Chris wrote:

    To lose one complete set of Action magazines, Mr John, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

    I can't imagine I will be parting with my collection for some time. If I do, it will be for quite a bit more than 50p 🙂

  11. CHRIS wrote:

    Hi there,
    Are you willing to sell your Action and 2000AD comics?


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