Author Topic: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?  (Read 1997 times)

FlyJ

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"Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« on: July 17, 2019, 10:04:33 AM »
For a few years, I've ridden a bicycle for transportation, and I don't own a car. My city has a very active road cycling/racing community, and my transportation cycling morphed into 10+ hour per week road cycling hobby, including frequent group rides, organized rides and some races. Looking at my YNAB account, I've spent over $1000 per month since May of 2018 on cycling. I travel for work, and so keep a second trainer/bike in the place I stay most often for travel (I rent a room there), and also a bike and trainer at my parents' house so that I can ride while visiting (they live in another state and I visit often). Part of this high monthly average cost is bicycle purchases, including my $3000+ primary road bike, as well as trainers, computer, power meter, etc. These items will be with me for a few years, so the average will go down over time, however, it's still extremely high. Due to work travel, I'm also making decisions that affect my income in order to ride more.

I currently rent an apartment and recently wanted to buy a condo, but couldn't for lack of a decent down payment - something I'd probably have if it wasn't for all this cycling expense. This, and all the other effects the time/cost of cycling is having on my life often leaves me wanting to "escape" and leave it behind. The problem is that cycling IS my life. My entire social life and lifestyle is caught up in it. Today was supposed to be my first day working part-time in a bike shop, but I turned down the opportunity this morning as it was yet another restriction cycling was placing on my life.

Before cycling, I was a good saver and budgeter, but that's all out the window now. On multiple occasions, with plans to quit, I've posted but then deleted my equipment on Craigslist, FB, etc.

When one is so tied up in a hobby that it's their lifestyle, when you "love" something, is it worth the cost? I suppose this relationship might be more love/hate. Even when I love it, though, the financial strain is always in the back of my mind. Still, I'm single and almost every activity, social event, etc. in which I participate is cycling related. I also have an interest in bicycle/pedestrian transportation issues. Sort of all-in on this hobby.

Note: I have no debt, but not much savings.





« Last Edit: July 17, 2019, 10:10:47 AM by FlyJ »

GuitarStv

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2019, 11:35:00 AM »
So stop spending money on it.

Once you've got a good bike, some shorts and a shirt . . . most of the other money being spent isn't necessary.  You don't need a power meter.  You don't need a computer.  You don't need more than one bike.

mschaus

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2019, 12:15:14 PM »
Yeah sounds like most of your costs are already out of the way. Just stop buying more gadgets -- it's fun, but they won't actually make you go faster in a meaningful way unless your goal is to win races (that's a whole different ball game to just riding bikes a lot). That's awesome you love it, and you can reconcile this with your savings goals by just not spending more money.

Yeah, ~$15k in the last 15 months means things were a bit out of control, but going at it consciously in the future, perhaps consulting with a trusted (non-roadie) friend will hopefully keep it in check.

Keep riding!

Moustachienne

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2019, 12:20:06 PM »
Hobby "creep" is a real thing.  Just ask the camera enthusiasts or audiophiles or scrapbookers or crafters or book lovers or watch collectors or...   You have lots of company.

Don't beat yourself up but do ask yourself some hard questions.  What are your life goals?  What kind of saving would be needed to further these goals?  Is the amount of time and money you're pouring into cycling right now advancing those goals? Where do you want to be in 5, 10, 25 years?  It sounds like you are starting to think not so go with that feeling and do some internal investigation. 

It seems like you get a lot out of cycling right now but the $$ and time you spend on it are already keeping you from moving forward, e.g. not buying a condo, making work decisions based on immediate cycling gratification.  Develop a vision for Future You to see if these are the best decisions.

GuitarStv has a great point.  As in so many areas of life, there is a lot of fun to be had in cycling with a simpler, more Mustachian approach.  Maybe this is the time to find that level and regain your sense of control..

frugaliknowit

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2019, 01:15:58 PM »
While not a racer (more of a 18mph touring cyclist), I have one bike mostly for group riding ($1500 nine years ago) and one "beater" for commuting and running errands.  I probably spend $250 per year in parts and labor for them as their drive train parts wear out, etc.

I know when you race, there's at a minimum of $3,000+ carbon bike with extra light rims (another $1,000...?), lots and lots of frequent tunes with new parts, and lots of clothing/gear.

Stop buying new crap except when necessary (for example, in my case, my bike computer broke after 2 years and I still have not replaced it...not an option for a racer...my beater bike is kind of an embarrassment, but in the city a new one is kind of a waste... ) and enjoy your great hobby...maybe have a budget....?

mid-atlantic minimalist

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2019, 01:26:55 PM »
I can relate. I scaled way back on tri over the last few years, for reasons that included financial. Moustachienne's questions and priority focus are great and such a helpful way of coaching yourself through this. Some additional points to consider --

My social life has changed a lot, in good and bad ways. I left an expensive team and coach that had been the hub of my social world. It was an agonizing decision when I was making it, but on the other side of it, I've been fine. I miss some of the effortless companionship and feel a small sense of loss when they do team stuff and I'm not there. On the other hand, the people who were true friends are still in my life. I've found a measure of freedom in having more control over when, where, with whom (and to be honest, also even whether) I ride. There are also a lot of local free or super low cost clubs that could easily fill the void where I live if I did want group rides.

It sounds like you feel like you need to be all-in or completely out. Would a maintenance mode for a few months give you some useful data about how cycling might fit into your life in a different way? You could focus less on getting those key rides in during travel and possibly therefore bill more hours for work or save on bike transport costs and see if you find that equally satisfying as training super hard? Maybe a chance to recover from the hate part of the love/hate and think things through a little more clearly?

Biking essentials get expensive quickly if you're doing more than just commuting. Things wear out and performance stuff is just more expensive than commuting stuff. On top of that, the cycling world is obsessed with appearances. Over time, and being away from the team has helped somewhat, I am becoming better at being truthful with myself about what is an actual need and what's a very compelling want. And the free/low cost clubs have a lot more people out in their jerseys and shorts from three decades ago vs. the high end shop teams or tri clubs. I also unsubscribed from bike store email lists and stopped reading forums and I don't long for much bike stuff anymore other than what keeps my butt comfortable and head protected.

I sold some bikes I now wish I had back. I was in a fit of burnout, and also wanting the money to pay back debt. Didn't think I'd ever really use them, and now it would cost me more than what I sold them for to replace them, so I won't. I guess I'm just encouraging you to see how far you want to scale back before you unload any bikes.

The "real" cyclists I've said this too have found it offensive, but when traveling, those spin classes with the loud music where everyone wears lululemon... finding one or two of those is typically a lot less expensive than flying with your bike or renting one, and they are a good way to maintain fitness, I don't care what the cycling credibility police say.

Good luck!

FlyJ

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2019, 01:36:48 PM »
I can relate. I scaled way back on tri over the last few years, for reasons that included financial. Moustachienne's questions and priority focus are great and such a helpful way of coaching yourself through this. Some additional points to consider --

My social life has changed a lot, in good and bad ways. I left an expensive team and coach that had been the hub of my social world. It was an agonizing decision when I was making it, but on the other side of it, I've been fine. I miss some of the effortless companionship and feel a small sense of loss when they do team stuff and I'm not there. On the other hand, the people who were true friends are still in my life. I've found a measure of freedom in having more control over when, where, with whom (and to be honest, also even whether) I ride. There are also a lot of local free or super low cost clubs that could easily fill the void where I live if I did want group rides.

It sounds like you feel like you need to be all-in or completely out. Would a maintenance mode for a few months give you some useful data about how cycling might fit into your life in a different way? You could focus less on getting those key rides in during travel and possibly therefore bill more hours for work or save on bike transport costs and see if you find that equally satisfying as training super hard? Maybe a chance to recover from the hate part of the love/hate and think things through a little more clearly?

Biking essentials get expensive quickly if you're doing more than just commuting. Things wear out and performance stuff is just more expensive than commuting stuff. On top of that, the cycling world is obsessed with appearances. Over time, and being away from the team has helped somewhat, I am becoming better at being truthful with myself about what is an actual need and what's a very compelling want. And the free/low cost clubs have a lot more people out in their jerseys and shorts from three decades ago vs. the high end shop teams or tri clubs. I also unsubscribed from bike store email lists and stopped reading forums and I don't long for much bike stuff anymore other than what keeps my butt comfortable and head protected.

I sold some bikes I now wish I had back. I was in a fit of burnout, and also wanting the money to pay back debt. Didn't think I'd ever really use them, and now it would cost me more than what I sold them for to replace them, so I won't. I guess I'm just encouraging you to see how far you want to scale back before you unload any bikes.

The "real" cyclists I've said this too have found it offensive, but when traveling, those spin classes with the loud music where everyone wears lululemon... finding one or two of those is typically a lot less expensive than flying with your bike or renting one, and they are a good way to maintain fitness, I don't care what the cycling credibility police say.

Good luck!

Thanks. I think I can relate to this answer the best. A maintenance period might be worthwhile, and I'm definitely not opposed to spin classes (never done one though). But yes, I think "all in" or out is kind of the way I do things. As more of a recreational cyclist, I'd no longer fit in with the people I ride with. I understand what people mean when they say "you don't need a power meter", etc., but I do need a power meter, computer, cool jersey, etc. The cycling some of these others are talking about is a completely different thing. Glad to read some insight on how it changed your social life. That's certainly a big part of the decision.



« Last Edit: July 17, 2019, 01:47:44 PM by FlyJ »

FlyJ

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2019, 01:40:20 PM »
Hobby "creep" is a real thing.  Just ask the camera enthusiasts or audiophiles or scrapbookers or crafters or book lovers or watch collectors or...   You have lots of company.

Don't beat yourself up but do ask yourself some hard questions.  What are your life goals?  What kind of saving would be needed to further these goals?  Is the amount of time and money you're pouring into cycling right now advancing those goals? Where do you want to be in 5, 10, 25 years?  It sounds like you are starting to think not so go with that feeling and do some internal investigation. 

It seems like you get a lot out of cycling right now but the $$ and time you spend on it are already keeping you from moving forward, e.g. not buying a condo, making work decisions based on immediate cycling gratification.  Develop a vision for Future You to see if these are the best decisions.

GuitarStv has a great point.  As in so many areas of life, there is a lot of fun to be had in cycling with a simpler, more Mustachian approach.  Maybe this is the time to find that level and regain your sense of control..

Yes, I think a break with some clarity on future goals might be worthwhile, as I'm only working toward cycling goals at the moment. "Simpler" cycling is a very different thing, but I'm open to it. There's a different type of crowd where I live that does that type of riding, and I suppose I could find relationships and satisfaction there as well.

DeniseNJ

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2019, 01:41:52 PM »
Hobby "creep" is a real thing.  Just ask the camera enthusiasts or audiophiles or scrapbookers or crafters or book lovers or watch collectors or...   You have lots of company.


I have over 150 bottles of nail polish.  I was up to about 200 when I realized I was off my nut.  And in some circles your stash refers to your yarn collection.  My knitting has waned a tiny bit as I've gotten into welding.  You really do need to set a budget for hobbies or things could get out of hand.  I'm dying for a table saw but I'm not getting one until I lose 15 lbs--incentives are good too.  Like MMM wanting the tesla.

You want more bike junk?  Well, is your kitchen clean, is your 401K maxed, is your savings rate where it should be, how high is your grocery bill, can you buy stuff slightly used or hunt around for the best price, have you achieved a financial goal, is it in your hobby budget?

mm1970

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2019, 01:42:01 PM »
Hobby creep, totally a thing!  It takes effort and muscle (ha!) to dial it back.

I'm really into fitness, and have added a fourth gym membership in the last year.  I've cut back on races in response.  However, to be honest, group fitness ($) and races ($) keep me motivated, so it's a catch-22, sort of.

Well.  One of my gyms is cancelling their group fitness classes and drastically reducing their running programs.  So, my choice is to switch to personal training (I like GROUP FITNESS) or bail.  Result TBD, but most likely I'll see if the weight training classes at the YMCA (one of my other gyms) are good enough.  I've switched over to private running coaching for a specific goal that is in 2 months.  Then what?  Who knows.

I feel for you on the cycling, because I've had a difficult time maintaining my running mojo WITHOUT running groups and races.

FlyJ

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2019, 01:46:52 PM »
Yeah sounds like most of your costs are already out of the way. Just stop buying more gadgets -- it's fun, but they won't actually make you go faster in a meaningful way unless your goal is to win races (that's a whole different ball game to just riding bikes a lot). That's awesome you love it, and you can reconcile this with your savings goals by just not spending more money.

Yeah, ~$15k in the last 15 months means things were a bit out of control, but going at it consciously in the future, perhaps consulting with a trusted (non-roadie) friend will hopefully keep it in check.

Keep riding!

It was out of control. Social pressure is powerful and the signaling with clothing, equipment, etc. in cycling is tough to ignore. What prompted this post was a $333 maintenance bill for a "overhaul" of my main bike. Today I went running, which was my hobby previously. Going to take a step back and figure this out.


FlyJ

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2019, 01:49:44 PM »
Hobby "creep" is a real thing.  Just ask the camera enthusiasts or audiophiles or scrapbookers or crafters or book lovers or watch collectors or...   You have lots of company.


I have over 150 bottles of nail polish.  I was up to about 200 when I realized I was off my nut.  And in some circles your stash refers to your yarn collection.  My knitting has waned a tiny bit as I've gotten into welding.  You really do need to set a budget for hobbies or things could get out of hand.  I'm dying for a table saw but I'm not getting one until I lose 15 lbs--incentives are good too.  Like MMM wanting the tesla.

You want more bike junk?  Well, is your kitchen clean, is your 401K maxed, is your savings rate where it should be, how high is your grocery bill, can you buy stuff slightly used or hunt around for the best price, have you achieved a financial goal, is it in your hobby budget?

It's so strange. I do make a budget for food, living expenses, etc. Somehow bike stuff escapes this. I need to set a limit now!

FlyJ

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2019, 01:52:36 PM »
I feel for you on the cycling, because I've had a difficult time maintaining my running mojo WITHOUT running groups and races.

Running groups (especially trail), crossfit, fitness "influencer" lifestyle - the communities surrounding these types of things are probably similar. Once you're "in", it's like a cult.

Fishindude

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2019, 03:05:42 PM »
Get into boating.
It will make your $1000 / mo cycling hobby seem real cheap.

Laserjet3051

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2019, 03:29:11 PM »
Nothing wrong with being a fanatical cyclist, where biking is central to most aspects of one's life. No need to give any of that up.

What you need to give up is the spending. There is a way to be a frugal, though obsessive cyclist. Find that path, it will not put any dent in your on-bike fun.

Sure, all my spandex bike clothing is tremendously sun-bleached, my high end racing tires are well past their prime, and all the gear #s on my MTB X-Ray shifters were rubbed off years ago. But NONE of that impact my safety, performance or fun road or mountain biking. Plus I do almost all repairs/maintenance myself.

kendallf

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2019, 07:32:05 PM »


Thanks. I think I can relate to this answer the best. A maintenance period might be worthwhile, and I'm definitely not opposed to spin classes (never done one though). But yes, I think "all in" or out is kind of the way I do things. As more of a recreational cyclist, I'd no longer fit in with the people I ride with. I understand what people mean when they say "you don't need a power meter", etc., but I do need a power meter, computer, cool jersey, etc. The cycling some of these others are talking about is a completely different thing. Glad to read some insight on how it changed your social life. That's certainly a big part of the decision.

Don't be so sure about "no longer fitting in" with the fast group if you stop spending money.  Especially if you race (really race, pin on a USAC number, not do  the "Tuesday Night Worlds" or randos or whatever) often the fastest riders are on the shittiest bikes.  If you race in Florida at least you will crash, so you might as well be on a shitty bike.  Won't cut down on the medical bills but at least you won't cry over the bike.  :-) In my experience it's the recreational (older, more affluent) riders who get stupid with the gear.

I raced for years, now I am not racing but I still ride the fast training rides and I just basically stopped spending money on bikes.  I'm still (relatively) fast, my friends are still my friends, and my 12 month cost for cycling checks in at $185 according to Mint.  I have also "hacked" my cycling to make it more Mustachian, as I build all of my own bikes from used parts, perform my own maintenance, and generally refuse to buy into the "must have the newest bling thing" mentality. 

This is pretty relative, as my main bike was still $2k+ which sounds insane to the casual cyclists here, but that's buying a used Calfee frame, sending it back to Calfee to have S&S couplers put in it, and buying some new Ebay carbon disc brake wheels for it.  Buy something similar new and it would've been $5k+.   Two of my buddies run bike shops and one of them just sold two new Specialized road ebikes on the first day they were available for order, for $9k and $12k. 

WalkaboutStache

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2019, 10:29:37 PM »
Here is a good line to use:

"Why would I spend an extra $XXX on a new derailleur to save 50g when I could shave 1KG off my gut for free?"

Been there, done that.  I used to cycle now do a different sport with carbon equipment.  The best guys around me only buy stuff when they really need it and then use it forever.  It is not the bike that matters most, but the engine. If you stop yourself from buying extra crap you can continue enjoying your hobby pretty much indefinitely.


GuitarStv

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2019, 06:54:09 AM »
In my experience it's the recreational (older, more affluent) riders who get stupid with the gear.

+1


This is very true.  A lot of top end bikes that I see are piloted by older gentlemen who struggle to hit 18 mph on the flats.

FunkyStickman

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #18 on: July 18, 2019, 07:51:59 AM »
This is going to hurt a little... :)

So stop spending money on it.

Once you've got a good bike, some shorts and a shirt . . . most of the other money being spent isn't necessary.  You don't need a power meter.  You don't need a computer.  You don't need more than one bike.

I second this.
I'd also add, you can sell what you don't need. If you're not a racer, you don't need a $3000+ racing bike. You don't need power meters. Period. Learn to separate "need" from "want" and act accordingly.

I do group rides (extremely rarely) on a 30 year old Peugeot, and you know what? It works. Before that, I would pull pacelines on a 30-pound touring bike with racks and a dyno. Seriously. That bike wasn't fast, but it made me hella strong.

When I realized that everyone at the group rides was on carbon, and constantly dick-waving about who had the most KoM times, I decided I just didn't want to do group rides any more. I don't miss it.

I ride solo now. My own pace, wherever I want, as long or short as I want. I don't need the external motivation to ride any more. I ride when I feel like it, and rest when I don't.

If you do group rides for the fellowship and social time, that's fine... but my group's rides were becoming all about the paceline, no socializing. So I just quit.

Quote
It was out of control. Social pressure is powerful and the signaling with clothing, equipment, etc. in cycling is tough to ignore.

^^^^ This right here. Social pressure is the enemy. You need to learn to get over that. I think you've recognized it, which is huge. Now just let it go. If they think less of you for not running 11-speed Di2 and carbon deep V's, then you don't need attitudes like that in your life.

You. Just. Don't. Need. It.

FlyJ

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2019, 11:23:12 AM »
Don't be so sure about "no longer fitting in" with the fast group if you stop spending money.  Especially if you race (really race, pin on a USAC number, not do  the "Tuesday Night Worlds" or randos or whatever) often the fastest riders are on the shittiest bikes.  If you race in Florida at least you will crash, so you might as well be on a shitty bike.  Won't cut down on the medical bills but at least you won't cry over the bike.  :-) In my experience it's the recreational (older, more affluent) riders who get stupid with the gear.

I raced for years, now I am not racing but I still ride the fast training rides and I just basically stopped spending money on bikes.  I'm still (relatively) fast, my friends are still my friends, and my 12 month cost for cycling checks in at $185 according to Mint.  I have also "hacked" my cycling to make it more Mustachian, as I build all of my own bikes from used parts, perform my own maintenance, and generally refuse to buy into the "must have the newest bling thing" mentality. 

This is pretty relative, as my main bike was still $2k+ which sounds insane to the casual cyclists here, but that's buying a used Calfee frame, sending it back to Calfee to have S&S couplers put in it, and buying some new Ebay carbon disc brake wheels for it.  Buy something similar new and it would've been $5k+.   Two of my buddies run bike shops and one of them just sold two new Specialized road ebikes on the first day they were available for order, for $9k and $12k.

I do race, however, in the weekly crit I see all kind of bikes. And know some people who can destroy on bikes they've built up in their home shop. I've got to get better at doing my own maintenance, waiting for sales, etc. My biggest hang up is having three bikes in three places, which I "need" if I'm going to ride enough to race. Might just need to let that go. Be a runner when traveling and a cyclist at home. I got dropped in the sprint today. Those events make you want to ride more and harder. Accepting that that's ok is the first step. My work traveling life is not their 9 to 5.

GuitarStv

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #20 on: July 18, 2019, 11:34:33 AM »
Even if you want to buy bikes to keep at other places, there's no reason you can't just buy a beater road frame that fits you.  No need for wind cheating carbon lightness on a training bike.  I see older steel frame ten speeds for around a hundred dollars all the time on craigslist.  That's perfectly fine for training (in some ways better because you'll end up working harder) . . . and you'll appreciate your nice bike even more when you get back to it.

A power meter won't get you better training results than a cheap heart rate monitor, so don't worry about getting one.

kendallf

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #21 on: July 18, 2019, 11:52:30 AM »

I do race, however, in the weekly crit I see all kind of bikes. And know some people who can destroy on bikes they've built up in their home shop. I've got to get better at doing my own maintenance, waiting for sales, etc. My biggest hang up is having three bikes in three places, which I "need" if I'm going to ride enough to race. Might just need to let that go. Be a runner when traveling and a cyclist at home. I got dropped in the sprint today. Those events make you want to ride more and harder. Accepting that that's ok is the first step. My work traveling life is not their 9 to 5.

From your first post, sounds like you've already got three bikes.  Sunk cost.. now just ride them.  If your travel destinations are unvarying and you're committed to daily training, multiple cheap bikes is probably the best solution.  I have an S&S coupled travel bike because I fly often, so I just take that with me.  I would say it's only worth it for trips longer than ~2-3 days as there's a significant amount of assembly/disassembly to pack it.

Buy your tires, cables, housing, chains and cassettes in bulk (I get mine from the UK and shops like Ribble; for some strange reason they are much, much cheaper even shipped to the US).  Read the Sheldon Brown website and buy some basic tools.  Get a chain tool, BB tools for whatever BBs your bikes have, a set of hex wrenches (the 3 way ones the bike shops use are cheap and handy), a chain breaker, and a sharp set of side cutters for cable housing.  If you're trendy and your bikes are Di2 or Etap, you don't even need the cable supplies.  Similarly, if most of your wheels are newer and have cartridge bearings, you don't need cone wrenches.  Maybe a good spoke wrench for truing.  All of that will be less than $50 if you shop online, and you can do the vast majority of your own bike servicing.

On the training front, if your time is constrained by traveling, make sure you're training smart.  Don't ride medium-hard all the time (fast group rides make this tempting).  Periodize your efforts; maybe do a hard solo interval day with power goals for the intervals and use your transportation riding as the active recovery day afterward (I disagree with GuitarStv about the efficacy of a power meter, BTW).  Ten hours a week of this should make you a competitive crit and short road racer; you can do it in less if it's focused and you don't waste time.

robartsd

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #22 on: July 18, 2019, 12:11:17 PM »
I do race, however, in the weekly crit I see all kind of bikes. And know some people who can destroy on bikes they've built up in their home shop. I've got to get better at doing my own maintenance, waiting for sales, etc. My biggest hang up is having three bikes in three places, which I "need" if I'm going to ride enough to race. Might just need to let that go. Be a runner when traveling and a cyclist at home. I got dropped in the sprint today. Those events make you want to ride more and harder. Accepting that that's ok is the first step. My work traveling life is not their 9 to 5.
I don't think it is a problem to have three bikes, but do they all need to be anywhere near competitive in order to support your training needs? Are you anywhere near competitive enough that tiny difference between a $3000 bike and a $1000 bike is what is holding you back?

Bike maintenance isn't hard to get into. You can get all the tools you need to do most bike repairs (including all routine maintenance) for about $50; but you can start with the most common items that simply need things you probably have already - screwdrivers, Allen keys, hex wrenches, and an old toothbrush and rags for cleaning,

(I get mine from the UK and shops like Ribble; for some strange reason they are much, much cheaper even shipped to the US).
I've noticed this too. Last to bike related purchases ended up with orders from Chain Reaction Cycles. I wonder if it is partially due to the weakening of the GBP over Brexit fears.

FlyJ

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #23 on: July 18, 2019, 12:52:51 PM »
From your first post, sounds like you've already got three bikes.  Sunk cost.. now just ride them.  If your travel destinations are unvarying and you're committed to daily training, multiple cheap bikes is probably the best solution.  I have an S&S coupled travel bike because I fly often, so I just take that with me.  I would say it's only worth it for trips longer than ~2-3 days as there's a significant amount of assembly/disassembly to pack it.

Buy your tires, cables, housing, chains and cassettes in bulk (I get mine from the UK and shops like Ribble; for some strange reason they are much, much cheaper even shipped to the US).  Read the Sheldon Brown website and buy some basic tools.  Get a chain tool, BB tools for whatever BBs your bikes have, a set of hex wrenches (the 3 way ones the bike shops use are cheap and handy), a chain breaker, and a sharp set of side cutters for cable housing.  If you're trendy and your bikes are Di2 or Etap, you don't even need the cable supplies.  Similarly, if most of your wheels are newer and have cartridge bearings, you don't need cone wrenches.  Maybe a good spoke wrench for truing.  All of that will be less than $50 if you shop online, and you can do the vast majority of your own bike servicing.

On the training front, if your time is constrained by traveling, make sure you're training smart.  Don't ride medium-hard all the time (fast group rides make this tempting).  Periodize your efforts; maybe do a hard solo interval day with power goals for the intervals and use your transportation riding as the active recovery day afterward (I disagree with GuitarStv about the efficacy of a power meter, BTW).  Ten hours a week of this should make you a competitive crit and short road racer; you can do it in less if it's focused and you don't waste time.

Wow. Just looked at Riddle. Crazy cheap! Can't believe I've never come across this.


MsPeacock

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #24 on: July 18, 2019, 02:21:57 PM »
Cycling is soooo expensive.

Agree w/ other posters that there are things you don't "need" unless you are getting paid to race. E.g. power meter, cycling computer, jazzy Garmin Fenix 5 +, etc. etc.  But if you have those things now and use them, keep them and use them. But stop buying more stuff. Best bet - stay OUT of the bike shop and stay off the bike websites. Stop looking at Cycling Magazine. Don't watch the tour. Hopefully during this acquisition stage you've learned some basic maintenance and can take care of some of that on your own. If not, start watching youtube videos and learn to do the basics.

Your trainer bike can be a beater. Assuming you are using a smart trainer (and you have a power meter and all the other gear - so I feel this is a safe assumption), you can jam any old bike into that trainer and be fine.

Forget the new jerseys and such. Wear your shorts until they are see through. Replace with cheap kits off Amazon only when truly needed. You do not need $400 cycling shoes - get the cheap ones, they work fine.

Whatever you do - don't start doing triathlons!

(And I totally hear you on this. I just sold one of my bikes - my original semi-beater that I bought when I got back into cycling. It was hard! And I have another one listed to go.) And the less said about my cycling expenses this year the better (but I am still meeting my savings goals).
« Last Edit: July 18, 2019, 02:24:02 PM by MsPeacock »

mschaus

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2019, 10:34:27 AM »
What prompted this post was a $333 maintenance bill for a "overhaul" of my main bike. Today I went running, which was my hobby previously. Going to take a step back and figure this out.

Awesome, seems like you're on the right track. Some advice that is both practical and can help with the psychology: start to learn how to do some of the maintenance yourself! You'll feel better about and in more control of your existing equipment, you'll build a new skill set to help round out your life, it's an additional activity that can replace TV watching, your friends will think you're cool, and you won't have to have your bike away for days at a time in the shop. Oh, and it will save money as an added bonus!

Can start with a buddy showing you some tricks, watch some YouTube videos, or pick up a repair book at the bookstore (I'd feel bad about getting grease on a library book) -- "The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance & Repair" is a good one.

katscratch

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2019, 03:29:46 PM »
It sounds like you've found racing your passion, more than bikes, which you've become aware is spendier than you'd like. It's easy to get caught up in feeling like you need certain gear, but at some level there are rapidly diminishing returns. My coach doesn't use power meters until we can graph our gains based on our time and how we feel; if we can't even do that, we're not at a level where additional data is very useful -I'm deffo not at that level and won't be :)

If you're in a medium to large city I'd wager there is a much bigger/broader-interest cycling community you just haven't noticed.

My entire social circle also revolves around cycling, but it's hugely diverse. It's very simple for me to shift to different ride styles depending on what else I have going on, while still maintaining close connections within my community. My cycling team is made up of riders from all disciplines, and yet we are a close knit group.

I would also recommend learning to do your own maintenance. It's fun and saves money. Even my friends who have raced at high levels nationally still race local crit series, and cross, and gravel races, but they all build their own bikes and source upgrades from the local online trading post and sit around the fire shooting the shit about bikes with the rest of us. It's not just a valuable skill -- it gives you a ton of social networking opportunities that don't rely on spending money for brand new stuff.

I also agree with not watching the Tour....watch the Spring Classics instead :D


GuitarStv

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2019, 04:58:18 PM »
To be fair, this year's tour has been pretty awesome so far.

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #28 on: July 26, 2019, 12:49:20 PM »
For a few years, I've ridden a bicycle for transportation, and I don't own a car. My city has a very active road cycling/racing community, and my transportation cycling morphed into 10+ hour per week road cycling hobby, including frequent group rides, organized rides and some races. Looking at my YNAB account, I've spent over $1000 per month since May of 2018 on cycling. I travel for work, and so keep a second trainer/bike in the place I stay most often for travel (I rent a room there), and also a bike and trainer at my parents' house so that I can ride while visiting (they live in another state and I visit often). Part of this high monthly average cost is bicycle purchases, including my $3000+ primary road bike, as well as trainers, computer, power meter, etc. These items will be with me for a few years, so the average will go down over time, however, it's still extremely high. Due to work travel, I'm also making decisions that affect my income in order to ride more.

I currently rent an apartment and recently wanted to buy a condo, but couldn't for lack of a decent down payment - something I'd probably have if it wasn't for all this cycling expense. This, and all the other effects the time/cost of cycling is having on my life often leaves me wanting to "escape" and leave it behind. The problem is that cycling IS my life. My entire social life and lifestyle is caught up in it. Today was supposed to be my first day working part-time in a bike shop, but I turned down the opportunity this morning as it was yet another restriction cycling was placing on my life.

Before cycling, I was a good saver and budgeter, but that's all out the window now. On multiple occasions, with plans to quit, I've posted but then deleted my equipment on Craigslist, FB, etc.

When one is so tied up in a hobby that it's their lifestyle, when you "love" something, is it worth the cost? I suppose this relationship might be more love/hate. Even when I love it, though, the financial strain is always in the back of my mind. Still, I'm single and almost every activity, social event, etc. in which I participate is cycling related. I also have an interest in bicycle/pedestrian transportation issues. Sort of all-in on this hobby.

Note: I have no debt, but not much savings.

FlyJ my brother, I can relate to this is so many ways.  A couple points from my experience -

1)  Do you need a power meter?  Maybe, and yes, even if you aren't "pro" or even racing.  If you think you need one then you very well may.  I'd MUCH prefer having a $1000 bike + power meter than a $10000 bike without.  Why?  Because it's the biggest motivational tool ever for me and the way I do things.  Tracking speeds are worthless for gauging progress.  What was up with the wind?  Were you with a group?  Was it hilly or flat?  Too much variation.  But check out your best 20 min power after a ride - any ride, any place, any group - and now you'll have something.  I believe anybody can make themselves 1 watt stronger, so there's always a goal and always satisfaction in achieving something.  But of course, some people don't care.  Sagan probably doesn't care.  I do and you may too.

2)  Saving is great, but living isn't too bad either!  And having a hobby you love which improves your health, is very social, and good for the environment is a huge win in the game of life.  Don't even think about giving up cycling until you genuinely don't feel like riding a bike - no other reason is worth a damn.

3)  It's all relative.  Prior to cycling I was huge into modifying cars.  I had an $80k car with $6000 wheels.  I convinced myself I was being frugal because I bought the car used and saved $40k up front.  So when I feel a little sting about buying a new set of ENVEs I remind myself how cheap this hobby is compared to others (some guys spend $2k/month just to belong to a country club, *lots* of guys spend $1k/month on bar tabs, and the list goes on...).  I also sold all my "fun" cars and bought a 2003 Tahoe, but more importantly rarely drive anything at all, so I'm saving so much money in car payments, insurance, sales tax, gas, maintenance, speeding tickets, bail :), you name it.  Plus racing my car was a danger to my health and sucked for the environment.

4)  There is a big spike up front in costs, or at least can be, but trust me, you eventually run out of stuff to buy.  No reasonable person will spend $1000/month on cycling *forever*.  But when I started I had to have a carbon road bike.  Then a gravel bike.  Then a disc road bike.  Then a fat bike.  Then a mountain bike.  Then a commuter bike with racks.  You get the point.  11 bikes later I honestly don't have anything I even think about buying (and haven't for 2 years now) but I'm still 100% obsessed with cycling 24/7.  I can also look at that fleet and easily prioritize (wouldn't really care if the fat bike, and one road bike went away, and most days you can take the mtb as well).  So can you make foolish spending choices related to cycling?  Of course!  But for me at this point, the costs for my cycling habit are sweat and recovery IPAs.  I haven't even bought a tire in 12 months.  1 tube has been my only bike purchase in the last 4000 miles of riding.

5)  Learn to do your own mechanical work.  Yes, guess what, more upfront costs to buy a few tools.  But it sets you up for a long term savings (not just on maintenance but now you can build a new bike using crazy cheap groupsets from Merlin or ebay) and a huge satisfaction of being self-sufficient and able to help others on the road.  I have to laugh when I see UCI Pros that can barely swap a wheel.  It's not hard, come on guys :)    The most bike mechanic knowledge you can possibly acquire for $10 - https://www.amazon.com/Zinn-Art-Road-Bike-Maintenance/dp/193771537X

Cheers!

« Last Edit: July 26, 2019, 12:51:17 PM by CrankAddict »

BicycleB

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #29 on: July 26, 2019, 01:13:34 PM »

It was out of control. Social pressure is powerful and the signaling with clothing, equipment, etc. in cycling is tough to ignore. What prompted this post was a $333 maintenance bill for a "overhaul" of my main bike. Today I went running, which was my hobby previously. Going to take a step back and figure this out.

As a former member of a serious runners' club, where all the cool people ran in the Boston Marathon EVERY year (it's the pinnacle of participative marathons, a peak event with 500,000 live spectators), I can relate to the endless escalation.

Like @Laserjet3051, I would recommend that the first thing to do is focus on cost. As multiple comments have suggested, there are numerous ways to control cost - limiting expensive components to competition, learning to do your own repairs & maintenance, sourcing equipment more cheaply, etc. As a framework for this, consider setting a budget and for now allowing yourself to geek out / show off as much as you like WITHIN THAT BUDGET. Later, you can address other matters more directly, such as whether a full break from spendy circles is wise or unwise, what sort of endorphin cycles are linked to your behavior (addiction? adrenaline? socializing that gains its power from lack of other friends?), and so on.

What budget would be wise? Here are some ideas:
1. Whatever budget allows you to achieve a 50% savings rate.
2. 10% of after tax income.
3. $3000/year (that's what I happened to use when I started Mustache-ing).
4. All of the above, meaning whichever is lowest.
5. Nothing for equipment, $1000/year for events. You can sell existing equipment to finance any new stuff, that's your equipment budget.
6. Same as 5, but with $500/year for maintenance.

If your savings are low, item 1 or something like it is the most important criterion. Review the savings rate and time-to-retirement charts in MMM's math article. In my opinion, it's the most important article on the blog, at least for the financial side of things. Pick a savings rate (by implication, a number of years to retirement) that would give you a happy life if an injury stopped you from cycling ever again, but you still had to go to work every day. When would you want to be free from your job if your job wasn't fun any more? Whatever % you need to achieve it - 60%, 30%, 50%, whatever - find a way to fit your passions into that. Then you'll have the best of both worlds.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/comment-page-2/
« Last Edit: July 26, 2019, 01:17:13 PM by BicycleB »

FlyJ

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #30 on: July 26, 2019, 01:18:49 PM »
FlyJ my brother, I can relate to this is so many ways.  A couple points from my experience -

1)  Do you need a power meter?  Maybe, and yes, even if you aren't "pro" or even racing.  If you think you need one then you very well may.  I'd MUCH prefer having a $1000 bike + power meter than a $10000 bike without.  Why?  Because it's the biggest motivational tool ever for me and the way I do things.  Tracking speeds are worthless for gauging progress.  What was up with the wind?  Were you with a group?  Was it hilly or flat?  Too much variation.  But check out your best 20 min power after a ride - any ride, any place, any group - and now you'll have something.  I believe anybody can make themselves 1 watt stronger, so there's always a goal and always satisfaction in achieving something.  But of course, some people don't care.  Sagan probably doesn't care.  I do and you may too.

2)  Saving is great, but living isn't too bad either!  And having a hobby you love which improves your health, is very social, and good for the environment is a huge win in the game of life.  Don't even think about giving up cycling until you genuinely don't feel like riding a bike - no other reason is worth a damn.

3)  It's all relative.  Prior to cycling I was huge into modifying cars.  I had an $80k car with $6000 wheels.  I convinced myself I was being frugal because I bought the car used and saved $40k up front.  So when I feel a little sting about buying a new set of ENVEs I remind myself how cheap this hobby is compared to others (some guys spend $2k/month just to belong to a country club, *lots* of guys spend $1k/month on bar tabs, and the list goes on...).  I also sold all my "fun" cars and bought a 2003 Tahoe, but more importantly rarely drive anything at all, so I'm saving so much money in car payments, insurance, sales tax, gas, maintenance, speeding tickets, bail :), you name it.  Plus racing my car was a danger to my health and sucked for the environment.

4)  There is a big spike up front in costs, or at least can be, but trust me, you eventually run out of stuff to buy.  No reasonable person will spend $1000/month on cycling *forever*.  But when I started I had to have a carbon road bike.  Then a gravel bike.  Then a disc road bike.  Then a fat bike.  Then a mountain bike.  Then a commuter bike with racks.  You get the point.  11 bikes later I honestly don't have anything I even think about buying (and haven't for 2 years now) but I'm still 100% obsessed with cycling 24/7.  I can also look at that fleet and easily prioritize (wouldn't really care if the fat bike, and one road bike went away, and most days you can take the mtb as well).  So can you make foolish spending choices related to cycling?  Of course!  But for me at this point, the costs for my cycling habit are sweat and recovery IPAs.  I haven't even bought a tire in 12 months.  1 tube has been my only bike purchase in the last 4000 miles of riding.

5)  Learn to do your own mechanical work.  Yes, guess what, more upfront costs to buy a few tools.  But it sets you up for a long term savings (not just on maintenance but now you can build a new bike using crazy cheap groupsets from Merlin or ebay) and a huge satisfaction of being self-sufficient and able to help others on the road.  I have to laugh when I see UCI Pros that can barely swap a wheel.  It's not hard, come on guys :)    The most bike mechanic knowledge you can possibly acquire for $10 - https://www.amazon.com/Zinn-Art-Road-Bike-Maintenance/dp/193771537X

Cheers!

Yes, I may be past the spike (though I do need a gravel bike now). Do I need a power meter? I don't know. I'm pretty into training with power, TrainingPeaks, etc., so probably going to keep it up. With bikes, though, at this point I've seen enough people racing on cobbled together bikes that I no longer feel the need to have anything but well curated combinations of decent quality parts purchased used. I have that Zinn book and will absolutely start doing my own maintenance at this point. I've had a number of high maintenance bills and it's stupid. If it takes me six hours to replace the cables, fine. I've wasted that much time on the internet, might as well do something useful with it.

No bar tabs, expensive cars or country clubs for me. This is it. And at home I'm usually eating really basic food. Without cycling, my life is cheap.

FlyJ

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Re: "Escaping" expensive hobby (cycling)?
« Reply #31 on: July 26, 2019, 01:25:59 PM »

What budget would be wise? Here are some ideas:
1. Whatever budget allows you to achieve a 50% savings rate.
2. 10% of after tax income.
3. $3000/year (that's what I happened to use when I started Mustache-ing).
4. All of the above, meaning whichever is lowest.
5. Nothing for equipment, $1000/year for events. You can sell existing equipment to finance any new stuff, that's your equipment budget.
6. Same as 5, but with $500/year for maintenance.


Haven't been doing the math lately like I should. I saved this list as a reminder and something to revisit. 

Inspired by this post, I actually came up with a kind of cool productivity idea. I downloaded a time tracking app that allows you to create clients and projects, with an hourly rate for each client. I made myself a "client" with an hourly rate of $15 per hour. As I work on side projects that are important to me: writing, programming stuff, etc., I "earn" my $15 per hour, which is then the money I'm allowed to use on bike stuff.