One of the big reasons I can be such a curmudgeon and resist the temptation of nice things is that I know if I like it, I won't like anything but that. I will obsess over these particular nice things and rearrange possessions/lifestyles to accommodate. I can be cheap. And nice things are usually not cheap.
A case in point: Brooks saddles. For years, I was totally content with riding "whatever" saddles. You know the type: fully synthetic, moderately comfortable, not really "stylish", and are seen on practically every modern bicycle. During those blissfully ignorant years I only thought about my "bike seat" (gosh, I didn't even call them saddles back then!) when the thing broke or was tearing, which a year or so after my constant riding they inevitably will.
Then a few years ago I obtained a Carradice saddle bag. (If you don't know what they look like, click here.) I liked the look of these classic British canvas bags, and thought it would work good on my Univega basket bike, since the bike wasn't going to have a rear rack. The main problem with the Carradice is that is indeed a fancy bag. So fancy that it's designed to mount on a Brooks or similar traditional leather saddle, using the two loops that are on the rear of the saddle. And I just had the "ordinary" bike seat on the Univega. I didn't feel like springing (ha, ha) for a Brooks because they weren't cheap (fancy and cheap go together like oil and water), and besides, aren't they supposed to be uncomfortable? I mean, look at them! There's no squishy padding anywhere to be found!
The other options were to by a special rack type of mount for it from Carradice (meh), or make my own jury-rigged mounting configuration, of which instructions were obtained online (ed note: can't find that page right now.) And I did. And I was happy.
I brought the Univega-with-basket-and-Carradice to Victoria, where as always I hung out with the Recyclistas bike shop crew. Since the Recyclistas kids are certifiable bike geeks, we started talking about my bike, the bag, and the Rube Goldberg-esque way the Carradice was mounted. I rather casually mentioned that it would mount easier and look better with a Brooks saddle, but this was not in my possession.
"Eh?" said Ryan, one of Recyclistas owners. (ed note: when talking about Canadians, you must always make sure they say "eh".) "Well, I have an extra Brooks that I don't need. And we need a new ad for the shop. I'll trade you my Brooks for a new ad."
And in less time that it normally takes me for these type of things (read: a long time), I had drawn Ryan a new Reyclistas ad.
And I had a new (to me) Brooks saddle! The Carradice mounted beautifully, and the saddle/bag combination looked gorgeous, looked natural, looked meant to be. And the best part: the Brooks saddle is comfortable!
Now I don't ride anything but Brooks. I've purchased quite a few recently through Craigslist. And as long as the leather and rail stay in good shape, I can resell them if I don't need them. I can't even imagine an ordinary "bike seat" now.
Honestly, I don't want to be this way! Being a fancy bicyclist wasn't the plan!
And don't get me started on how I covet the Carradice. I picked up another one recently. And there will probably be more down the road.
Stay tuned for Part 2: my wool obsession.