A dewy-eyed Dr Hutch is trying to slim down his collection of ancient cycling gear
You may recall from last week that I’m planning some building works, to turn our house into what Mrs Doc complains will be a sort of spa for pampered bicycles.
Well, the builders move in this week. Since the first order of business is a wrecking ball, we have to move out. I’ll be in London for the next six months, so this column will be moving into metropolitan cycling culture with reviews of beard oil and artisan coffee roasters, and thrilling accounts of trying to bag Strava segments down the Kilburn High Road, drafting behind a Deliveroo rider who’s trying to deliver pizzas fast enough to pay his rent.
The bicycles have to move out too. The garage that has horrified me for over a decade needs to be emptied. I have worked my way down through its layers like a paleontologist, with the added poignancy that I can remember when all the dinosaurs were my newest and most prized possessions.
There is something terribly sad about finding something that, when it was removed from a packing case in a shower of polystyrene bits, immediately became the best thing I owned, but which is now covered in cobwebs and forgotten in a dark corner. I imagine that’s the reason I’ve still got so much of this stuff — it’s hard to throw something out, or sell it, or give it away when it’s got memories tied to it.
If you’d been with me last week you could have seen me sniffing emotionally over my first disc wheel, in the way some parents mope around their children’s bedrooms after they’ve left home and gone to college. I warmly remember riding my first 18-minute ‘10’ on it 20 years ago this year, much as I’m sure my parents gazed upon the high-quality trophy I won at the County Antrim under-10 roller-disco championships.
The problem is what to do with all this stuff. I’ve rented a storage unit, but hawking 15 disc wheels to the unit and then hawking them all back seems like behaviour that would undermine the moral high ground I like to occupy when I’m making hard-hitting assessments of Mrs Doc’s book-hoarding issues.
Some stuff has gone to the tip — wheels with badly worn rims, frames that had been in crashes, the 600 six-inch lengths of brake-cable inner and the 250 single links of chain that I’ve carefully saved up from bike builds over the years.
I even threw out the wheel my friend Bernard wrenched into two halves at a hill-climb, despite the fact that for 10 years it’s made me laugh every time I looked at it.
And I’ve sold some stuff — the ‘iconic’ Spinergy Rev-X wheels from 1996 have acquired a sort of cult status and are worth more now than I paid for them. Same with some old titanium Flite saddles.
But there is stuff that’s too interesting to throw away, but too odd to sell.
I own half of the handlebars from Jens Voigt’s 2009 TT bike. (I used to own the other half, but seem to have lost it.)
I have the faired-in rear mech from Lance Armstrong’s prologue bike at his last Tour de France — ironically it’s been banned by the UCI too. I have a pair of mirror-finish shoes with my name embroidered on them, supplied by an over-enthusiastic sponsor who had failed to notice that time triallists always wear aero overshoes. How could anyone dispose of such treasures?
About the only thing I can think of is a museum. It would make a nice adjunct to the spa. I’ll appreciate that ‘a cycling museum’ and ‘an exact replica of the old garage in spite of all my promises that such a thing would never happen’ might be hard to tell apart. But I’ll put up a sign to make it clear.