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N+1=0

November 15, 2019

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N+1=0


The door swings open.

Immaculately engineered bikes, tastefully lit, sit atop their displays. Music, a bit edgy, pipes in from overhead speakers.

There’s rubber, of course, but also a scent unique to bike shops—like a bouquet of mechanic’s garage, clothing store, and new car dealer.

My brain, resplendent, releases cascades of serotonin and dopamine, quickening my pulse, elevating my mood. I yearn for the impossible: to inhale the entirety of the room in one fell swoop. Immediately.

Experience has taught me that indulgence heightens the rush. Sharpens it. Prolongs it.

I surrender. “Why not take a peek at that one?”

Even before arriving, I’m not present.

Instead, awash in neurotransmitters, I fantasize about the bike’s lines, its subtleties. In my narrative, we forge a new relationship, learn how to work together, and share in the rush of falling in love. Oh, all the adventures we would have!

A glance at the price widens—and waters—my eyes.

Alas, our love shall remain forbidden.

I turn with less spring in my step, shuffle toward the register, and purchase my $15 bottle of tubeless sealant.


Viewed through my ego, it’s easy to convince myself that I need—absolutely must have—another bike.

The reasons don’t need to be good. I must only believe that without this conglomeration of molecules, I’m somehow deficient. That I’d be derelict to pass up the epic-ness that awaits.

Of course, the stories I create in my head rarely align with reality.

Still, the hunger to amass—the N+1 ethos—is intense. It’s one of scarcity. Addiction.

Like all ego-generated sensations, N+1 falsely augments the external, poisons the present, and fabricates the need to heap more upon my pile.

Indulged, whether related to bikes or otherwise, it allows for soaring highs. Fleeting, I soon return to Earth, hungrier, seeking the next rush, fully prepared to escalate. A cycle is born.


Mindful, I shift to a perspective of abundance. One that gifts me the opportunity to remain content with what I have in the face of addictive emotions.

There, I view the world as it really is, instead of through the cloudy haze of my ego.

Properly aligned, I recognize how, after thousands of miles spent riding together, I know my gravel bike’s personality as well as my own. Everything is dialed in exactly where I need it. It goes where I what in a wide variety of riding conditions.

There’s a warm, velvety comfort in this familiarity; the recognition that I can comfortably hop on and pedal away whenever the urge strikes.

Plus, by not buying into N+1’s lies, I’ll have extra money to try out new gear and accessories, tweak my setup, and perfect it even more.

What a rush! I smile, mentally bowing to the universe for the opportunity.

I have more than enough, thank you.

Derek has more than two decades of experience as a cyclist. He currently travels full-time with his family via RV, enjoying the country's best biking destinations. A secular Buddhist, Derek frequently explores the intersection of cycling, mindfulness, and compassion in his writing. #rolloutblissout
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