While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is
nis the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as
sis the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.
The only parents who proclaim to have a favorite child are the ones who have only one; all the other ones pretend they don’t have a favorite because they are each “different and special in their own way”. It’s complete bollocks, that, and we all know every parent does in fact have a favorite, but we like the lie more than we like the truth, so we all play along.
Rule #12 poses a similar conundrum, one in which we tell ourselves the same lie: we love all our bikes equally. Which we don’t, of course; we all have a favorite. A friend recently asked me how one goes about the business of judging which bike is your favorite and even as I told the usual lie, I was performing the calculus as to which actually is my favorite.
Sentimentally, I’d have to say my favorite is my first love, my Bianchi EV2 which currently hangs in disrepair in the back corner of the basement, waiting to be restored to period-correct glory. Either that or my steel Bianchi TSX with simplex downtube shifters and sexy silver Campa hubs and bits. Or my Cervelo R3 which was my first carbon steed and who loyally carried me over two Cobbled Classics Keepers Tours and currently faithfully serves as my Nine Bike. Or my Veloforma CCX which was my first custom-painted bike, gloriously flying the colors of the Velominati with a V-Lion headtube badge. Or my Veloforma Strada iR which is my go-to featherweight road steed on summer rides. Apparently I’m sentimental about any bike I’ve ever suffered on, so measure turns out not to be a helpful one.
From a utility standpoint, one might suggest the #1 would be the one you ride most often, but no bike should go unridden, and we should endeavor to ride them equally. That has that one sorted as a useless measure as well. The next obvious measure would be the one we take out on special rides, irrespective of the weather or road conditions. Or perhaps it is simply the one we spent the most money on, the one that helps us observe Rule #25, but cost seems like a silly reason to prefer one bike over another.
My Bike #1 is the one that makes me feel most free, that returns me most dearly to the reasons why I started riding a bike in the first place: my Graveur. It carries me through the backcountry forest roads in Washington State, on rides that almost always start and end accompanied by my other loyal steed, our pitbull-greyhound mutt. You can’t feel more free on a bike than that.
I’ll say it again: the road is where my heart lies, but the gravel is where I find my soul. VLVV.