Something bad happened recently. My wife was going over the bills to see if we can cut some expenses. While putting together a budget, she discovered that I spend $1,764 per year on cycling. That is $147 per month. I was stunned.

This amount includes bike repairs, bike gear such as new lights and helmets, at least two new tires a year, hotels and restaurants on occasional rides out of town, gels and sports drinks.

For example, I spend $39 for a large jar of Perpetuem, a sports drink made specially for long distance cycling. Recently, I had to spend $500 on my 1999 Trek 5200, which has more than 25,000 miles on it and more than a few scratches. I had to buy a new rear racing wheel after I somehow managed to destroy the old one during a ride. The repairs included a new Dura Ace chain, new brake cables, new tape on the handlebars.

Not knowing what to say to my wife in defense of my spending, I turned to a group of experts: the local cycling e-mail group. By the speed and volume of their responses, I must have touched a raw nerve.

I posted my request for advice at 1:04 p.m. By 1:14, the first e-mail had arrived. “I can send you my spending numbers for 2003 through 2005. That should make you look like a saint.” Around the same time: “Wow. That sounds low.” Then came the torrent.

At 1:15, a cyclist wrote, “if you are self-employed, write it off as a health related expense.” At 1:16: “spend more next year, which will make you look more prudent this year.” Put more poetically, another added “if you want a kitten, ask for a horse.”

At 1:17, I received helpful tips on lowering expenses. I could “cut out the energy bars,” for example. The emails kept coming.

A cyclist suggested looking on the bright-side by “calculating how much a golf habit would cost.” Another compared my cycling spending with the cost of a health club membership or a personal trainer. Another cheerfully suggested that it “beats the heck out of a $1,500 a week coke habit.”

Some proposed a counter-attack on my wife’s spending patterns. “How does that compare with her shoe budget?” Another coyly suggested cutting back on dinners out unless she stopped scrutinizing the cycling budget.

A cyclist who must have an accounting background suggested re-categorizing some expenses: “energy drinks, gels and restaurants belong in the grocery budget.” Another who must be a government employee proposed that I agree on a “cost per mile and then ride more miles so that it looks cheaper.”

More practical advice came from some cyclists who wrote, “Always pay cash.”

Another wrote, “Don’t share that information with your wife.”

But perhaps the best response came from a cyclist who put everything into perspective. “It’s about time your wife realizes how little you spend in proportion to your overall budget. Having you happy and in shape? Priceless.”

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