Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Minimalists Ideals start to take hold

Over the past year or so, I've been really contemplating the idea of minimalism.

Minimalism isn't really new or revolutionary, nor would minimalism necessarily be the best way to describe the thought process. Maybe it is, but minimalism seams to be more of a title to counter-act the consumeristic lifestyle that we as North Americans have been so caught up in. Always need the latest and greatest, always need more. Why? The thought process of minimalism is to pair everything down to the smallest amount that we can comfortably get by on. Try to do without the latest and greatest. Be content with what we have. My motivation for minimalism has stemmed from my frustration with trying to keep all of my worldly possessions in order. My life, may not even look minimalistic yet. I've always been a bit of a collector, and even as a kid, I would hate to get rid of anything, "in case I might need it later." Classic.

A lot of my life and my stuff has been very easy to pair down. Stuff that I've had for years, I've given away over the last year. I've kept track and I've hauled 8 pickup truck loads (and I mean completely loaded truck-fulls of 'stuff') in the past year and a half. Most of it is easy, and I've gotten my personal belongings to a much more manageable level. Still not near done, but I've made some real progress. One area that I thought would be completely unaffected by minimalism was my bicycles. Turns out, I was wrong. Yesterday I gave away 3 bikes and my old trusty trek frame (which was pretty much the starting point of my bike commuting and this blog). Today, I put up the fixie for sale.
I'm trying to pair my bike collection down to as few bikes I can have, and still partake in my favourite styles of riding. The fact of the matter is that I don't need a great city bike with a front basket for the one day a year that I make a wine and cheese run before enjoying he sunset with my wife on the back deck. I did that once last year, and I've romanticized the ride ever since. It was probably the biggest reason I kept that bike so long. Hadn't ridden it since. Get rid of the bike, keep the memory.

My bike collection to meet my style of riding should be quite nicely accommodated with the following: my LHT, my Karate Monkey, my Xtracycle, and my Rockabilly Boogy. Those are the bikes that I ride the most. There is also the 'mystery bike' (which I should probably get pictures up here) that would have it's place, but most likely will go. That will still leave me with 4 bicycles, which is quite a collection to the average person. To a cycling fanatic, it's hardly respectable, but to a minimalist, it's plenty. Who knows, it may be culled down even further, but my thoughts are this. My LHT is a great bike for errands, long relaxing rides in the country, and for road rides. My Karate Monkey has been my evening bike ride 'go to' for quite a while. This was very different than what I thought when I bought it. I didn't think I'd ride the Karate Monkey near as much as I do, and it's just such a great bike. Soots (Xtracycle) is obviously for hauling kids and groceries and running whatever other errands I might need to run. And lastly, the Rockabilly Boogy. This bike is just for fun. Since my wife has a cruiser to match, it's a bike that I'll hang onto, even though it's mostly a novelty. Every other one of my bikes is a better, more efficient ride, but sometimes it's fun to just cruise with my bride (of 9 years now!) and go no-where important slowly.

I've been told by people that I'll regret getting rid of my bikes. If I truly do find that I can't live without the collection I currently have, I can always build it back up again. But I don't think that'll be the case. The fact that I'll have fewer bikes to maintain accessories and ride makes me worry that I'll see how great simple is, and be tempted to further reduce my fleet. That, wouldn't be a bad thing.

To the fixie. I'm gong to try and sell it locally. Shipping is a royal pain in the butt and quite expensive to anywhere south of the border. So, locally, I've got it listed for $650 with a few options.

Life is getting simpler and I'm liking it.


Pondero said...

Fantastic post. I like to think in terms of "contentment" and "simplification", rather than minimalism, but no criticism of terms is intended. Whatever it is called, it is a challenging and fascinating topic, and one I enjoy discussing. Collaboration helps me with implementation.

I couldn't help but notice that you are selling an elegant example of a marvelously minimalist machine. Of my 3 bikes, 2 are fixed wheel.

I'm always trying to determine if I could live with one less. I guess that's part of the challenge.

Jerome said...

Hey thanks.

I agree, contentment is the basis of minimalism. Getting along with what you have and not giving in to the unhappiness that modern advertising creates.

The reason the fixie is up on the block is simple. I don't ride it that much. I think if I had to go to just one bicycle, it might just be the single speed Karate Monkey. That's close to a simple bike isn't it?



Pondero said...

Yep, the Karate Monkey is nicely simple...and if you keep mentioning it, you'll start (since I don't have one) interfering with my "contentment".

Vik said...

Going to pair down the camera gear to one lens, one body and one flash?...=-)~

Jerome said...

nope. But, I do keep my gear to a minimum required to do the job. To get a wide angle shot, need need a wide angle lens. I buy the best lenses and bodies I can, while still being able to shoot what I want to shoot in the style I like to shoot it. I don't have any desire to shoot macro photography right now, so, I don't have a macro lens.

Same with bikes. If I was into freeride, I'd need a freeride full suspension bike. But not 4 of them. The style of riding I do, doesn't require more than a few bicycles to cover everything. Still keep doing what I like to do, but only use the best tool to do it, and clear out the rest!

That's my take on minimalism.