Mid-life crisis and a wandering eye

Fat bike

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a married man in attaining a certain age must be in want of a new, sleeker, sexier something-or-other in his life.

Usually, such mid-life crises result in said semi-old dude’s trading up either his wife or his car.

As I careen headlong into middle-lifery, I’m acutely self-aware of such common urges to “upgrade” and vow not to succumb to them.

And, in all honestly, it shouldn’t be difficult to skirt (see what I did there?) either pitfall because I have no desire to replace my already sleek and sexy spouse (and, yes, she is a regular reader of my blog; why do you ask?), and I have so little emotional attachment to my car I can’t imagine any four-wheeled vehicle could compensate for whatever manhood I’m sure to lose over the next couple of years.

Curiously, though, I’ve seen a bit of anti-mid-life crisis creeping into my bike life. While the stereotypical crisis involves yearning for sexy and sleek, my bike urges suddenly lean toward portly and practical.

Several years ago, after I had been cycling semi-seriously for a while, I had a hankering for a new bike. I roamed the aisle at my favorite downtown bike shop and was promptly greeted by a worker. I explained I had a mountain bike, but that I spent almost all my time on the road. Though I had put on narrow, slick tires and tweaked about everything I could to turn it into a road machine, it was still a burly off-road beast at heart.

The worker chuckled a sympathetic chuckle and said what I was going through was understandable.

He said there’s a normal order for cycling purchases. He said it’s common for someone to start with, say, a mountain bike, then, after a few hundred or thousand miles, to want to get into the roadie scene. After a few more miles, cyclists get a little more purpose-driven: perhaps a cross bike or commuter or vintage steel steed follows. Before long, the car’s on the driveway, and the garage still isn’t big enough to contain the herd.

Been there.

I haven’t had a hankering for a new ride in a long time, but I have found myself longingly eying two of the most ungainly steeds every to be shod with two wheels: cargo bikes and fat bikes.

Fat bike

Cargo cruiser

Sometimes I’ll catch myself day dreaming about rolling along astride a longtail cargo bike, bags and parcels and boxes of groceries lashed to her sturdy, chromoly frame, birds chirping, the wind in my hair …

Or I’ll picture myself mounted on a fat bike, she with her huge, low-pressure tires, me wearing a balaclava that can’t begin to hide an ear-to-ear smile. Together we float, float over the foot of snow that covers the path ahead …

And my reverie will be interrupted by the need to drive to the store or to scrap another bike commute because Winter Storm Whatshisface dumped on us yet again.

But a man can still dream, right?