Today’s fail post comes to you courtesy of Mr. Saturday’s younger 20-something-year-old self. (As opposed to Mrs. Saturday’s younger self, since she was exceedingly more responsible than me!)
To start off with, Mr. Money Mustache would highly agree with me that we need to ride our bicycles more often. Cruising around in high-powered wheelchairs with cushy seats doesn’t make a lot of sense if you’re commuting a couple of miles. We could all work a little harder on this goal for sure.
So back in the early 2000’s, I worked for a local electronics store which was 5.7 miles from my house one-way. I was in college not making too bad of a salesperson’s pay, but was already starting to be heavily in debt with credit cards without realizing how hard it was going to be to dig myself out of that mess. Since I was in school, I was buying textbooks of course, but other “fun” items started making their way onto my credit card balance. But hey! Those didn’t have to be paid off until the future! It would be okay.
I never paid my credit card late and was starting to be a whiz at transferring balances to keep my interest rate low. At some point though, I started to get into the mindset that I needed to pare down expenses. So what could I save money on?
How about riding my bicycle to work instead of paying for all that gas? A novel idea was forming.
I could get back some of the fitness I had lost since high school from the years that were ticking by of driving my car instead of using my muscles. A tiny seed of an idea was sprouting in my brain and it was starting to get exciting.
So I thought I’d test this out. One day I hopped on my old beater bicycle and rode it all the way to work (even through the sketchy part of town on a hot day). Midway to work after jumping a curb, I started pedaling and my chain bounces off and sadly hangs there while I’m uselessly pedaling. How frustrating. I pulled over, grabbed the chain, and coaxed it back on while getting my hands greasy from the built up grime caked onto it. I arrived at work dirty, sweaty, and a little tired from the effort it took to pedal a heavy steel bicycle almost 6 miles in the Florida summer heat.
This old bicycle wasn’t going to cut it. I mean:
- It broke down on me in a bad area on the way to work
- The alignment was off a bit
- The brakes needed adjusting
- It was heavy
- It was dirty
- It was old
I mean look at that list! That was the last straw. It was time for a new bicycle that would solve all of my problems and make the world a better place at the same time!
I started researching online to see what other people were riding and suggesting as “the best bicycle.” There were all kinds of bicycles available for speed, mountain biking, commuting, beach cruising, and any other number of uses. I had grown up with mountain bikes so I knew that’s what I wanted. I mean, I know there’s not mountains in Central Florida, but just in case! You never know.
After many hours and days of searching, for some reason the Cannondale brand was sticking in my head. This company had an aura about it that resonated with me. It was adventurous and sexy. One particular Cannondale model stood out to me above all others – the Cannondale Raven 2000 “Lefty.”
This incredible piece of engineering had a carbon fiber body, disc brakes like a motorcycle, and a very unique shock and fork system the likes of which I had never seen. Instead of a normal front fork, there was only one side that held onto the wheel that created an intriguing look. To add onto this, the main shock absorber was state-of-the-art with an electronic control system.
With the simple push of a button it would engage the shock absorber to cruise over any bump with ease. Press it again and it would solidify the shaft making it solid instead of springy. WHAT??
All of this, for a sticker price of only $3,500!
If you break down the savings that I’d get from riding my bike for years on end instead of driving my car, that would save a small portion of the cost. (and I’d be getting fit at the same time!) Also, let’s not forget, this wasn’t actually $3500. If you break it down over 2 years, it’s more like $145 per month, or actually 3 years sounds a little more reasonable at $97 per month.
That’s more like it – SOLD!
I walked into my local bicycle shop, told the excited owner to custom order me one Cannondale Lefty super bicycle and I’d be one happy customer. He informed me that the sale was final, but that was okay because this was the best purchase I was ever going to make!
A couple of antagonizing weeks later the bike finally came in, was set up at the shop, and I was informed that I was the proud owner of an incredible machine and it was ready for me to pick it up. I couldn’t wait to get it out on the road. I loaded it up in the car, took it home, and finally at long last the efforts of my future-labor were mine.
Time for a test drive.
I get on it and start pedaling down the road and immediately I’m taken aback by how incredibly light the bike is. It’s so much lighter than I ever expected that I almost wish it was heavier because it was strange to get used to. I squeeze the brakes and the superb disc brakes stop without hesitation. Incredible.
I press the electronic button in the middle of the handlebars for the shock absorber and hear the solenoid disengage to give a squishy, springy feel. I press it again and then it’s solid! Weird, but I guess I’ll get use to that.
Over the next week, I ride it here and there and take it to work a couple of times. On one occasion, I get a gawking teenager who knew what a Cannondale bike was and his head turned as I went by. When I got to work, I brought it in, secure it, and went about my work day with the joy of knowing I’d be riding this beast home in the dark.
A few weeks go by and the shininess begins to dull a bit and the thought of riding my bike to work again starts to lose its appeal. Oh well, at least I’ll have fun riding it on the weekends. Months go by. I’m still riding it, but the credit card has ballooned a little more and the thought occurs to me that maybe this might have been a bad idea. :-/
How can I correct this mistake and get out of this? I wished I could just return it to the bike shop, but this sale was final remember?!? Well, it was fun while it lasted. After some deliberation and realization that my credit card wasn’t going to solve itself, I decide to cut my losses and sell the bike on eBay. The bike sold for $2100 with 40 miles on it.
Purchase price: $3500 (interest doesn’t count does it?)
Selling price: $2100
End result: I rented a super bicycle for $1400
(or if you break it down by the mile – $35/mile)
“Don’t rationalize irrational purchases.”
Especially something you’re going to get tired of and stop using.
:::: A YEAR OR SO PASSES ::::
Now, a motorcycle.* I don’t think I could get tired of that. I wonder what people are riding these days? And blue has always been my favorite color. 😀
*It was probably a dumb purchase, but to my credit, the brand-new 2002 Yamaha R6 motorcycle I bought in 2001 – I still have 16 years later with 30,000+ miles on it. Although, it’s been on garage duty for some time now due to maintenance (like all motorcycles do).