(Disclaimer: this post has nothing to do with photography. You were warned. Keep reading at your own risk.)
It starts shrinking as you get older: the pressure on your time seems to increase and it can sometimes be hard to find time for a decent something — which just makes you appreciate the time you have doing something that much more pleasant.
Having nurtured the healthy habit of going to bed early enough to wake up naturally every morning just before 6:00 AM — and without the irritating interference of an alarm clock — I wake up every morning feeling I’d had a good rest and I’m fully energized to tackle the day I have ahead of me.
Recently though, I realized the subsequent 2 hours from waking up to going to work were basically wasted in front of my Surface Pro.
Yes, it’s good downtime tasting my morning coffee while everybody else at home is sleeping — no interruptions, just enjoying my time. Problem is, I mostly spend this quality time surfing social media, exposing myself to the constant flow of useless trash.
In short, hardly doing anything meaningful.
For whatever reason, one day I happened to find enough motivation to step out of this pointless universe and do something different — to take my 2 year old road bike for a ride.
What started as an any other day morning habit evolved, in a month’s time, into a serious performance driven exercise. Blame Strava for this: it woke up the competitive nature on me.
In case you don’t know Strava, it’s a sports oriented social media platform and, just like Facebook, it allows users to post, flex and check each others activities. It’s focused on performance and Strava riders — I’m one of them now — can compare each others times on a certain segment. This alone motivates and triggers you to try harder because, damn, you want to beat those suckers and look good at the time sheets.
So now I ride for at least 1 hour every morning, averaging 30 km distance and 900 cal burn each session — and I’m always pushing for faster times.
Is 40 really the age at which the human body suddenly starts to feel like it’s crumbling? The point at which you resign to your fate, progressively gaining weight and mutating into a couch potato while marching towards 50?
I’m 43 and trying to turn the tide now.
The (not so) funny side effect about cycling is that Gear Acquisition Syndrome is hitting me no different from photography. I guess this has to do with a few factors, namely that nowadays, whatever your hobby, you can easily search and check for gear on the internet — anytime, anywhere. And whatever you want to buy, the idea starts growing on you each time you check on it.
But, perhaps most importantly, when you get older chances are your buying power increases accordingly. So that whatever you wished you could buy when you were a kid, all of a sudden you get into this position of I can buy it, so why not?
Obviously, when you are already used to GAS in photography, you are basically prepared to shell out considerable amounts of cash for your objects of desire, whatever hobby you decide to embrace. And, just like in photography, cycling gear is similarly expensive if you want to get the best of the best.
Expensive stuff is abundant, like the light weight Rolf Prima hand-made carbon fiber wheels that burned a hole in my pocket last month.
Everything it’s exactly the same as in photography indeed. You want that new frame because it’s lighter and it’s stiffer with better power transfer. You want those carbon fiber handlebars because they are more comfortable and aerodynamic. You want that new helmet because it’s comes with this new technology that provides better head protection. The list goes on. And yes, you had already read all available online reviews.
No different from that new lens with an extra aperture or that new camera with higher megapixel count and ISO performance. You will find ways to convince yourself that you need it.
Yet every so often you get that cliché comment that a better camera will not make you a better photographer. Likewise, a better road bike won’t make you a better cyclist. It’s all about your skills — and we all agree.
But in photography, this was never my intent. And in cycling as well — more than anything, I’m fully aware it’s about my legs, lungs, my overall physical conditioning and mindset.
People who make this comment really do miss the point.
GAS is not about believing that certain equipment will let you achieve better results.
GAS is about the luxury of using the best products available on the market. It’s about the passion for something, it’s about admiration for a certain product and its inherent qualities.
And the sheer pleasure you get when you touch it, hold it, caress it and use it, because you know it’s the best of the best, it’s a product designed and built by skillful people with one goal in mind: to achieve excellent results.
It’s not logical — it’s purely emotional.
How many of us really need the megapixels that we have on hand these days?
How many of us really need to ride a super light carbon bike, tipping the scales at the minimum 6.8 Kg UCI limit and a potential Tour de France winner?
With this, I’ve already made my research and ordered a new road bike. Frame, handlebar, stem, brakes, electronic gear shifters… All components together, we are talking about a bike almost 8 times more expensive than my current one — a price tag high enough to buy you a car.
Will it provide 8 times more performance? Of course not. But if you think this way, again, you are missing the point.
Exorbitant? Everything is relative: some people spend the same amount of cash with a Leica 50mm Noctilux alone. Or a Rolex watch (and no, a Rolex won’t give you better time than a Casio).
So my hard earned cash is being directed out of photography for the time being to fund my cycling needs. Which is not a bad idea at all because, under the current global economic climate and decreasing sales in the photo industry, I can see camera manufacturers slowing down the launch of new products.
Worst, I don’t foresee any innovative or interesting photo gear in the upcoming future.