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Midlife Crisis Editorial (with Epilogue Added)

You Can’t Do That in a Porsche

Words Cam McRae
Date Jul 3, 2020
Reading time

This article was originally published on 2015-06-24. We're republishing it as a precursor to something unusual we have coming up.


Ricardo’s is the first midlife crisis I’ve seen up close – and it blindsided me. I’ve witnessed the ‘buy a Porsche and divorce your wife, in that order’ scenario, from a distance, but because I didn’t know the guy I just thought he was a jerk (and he probably is a jerk).

But when it happened to my buddy, I realized that these impulses come out of nowhere. In fact it only qualifies as a crisis when it comes from left field. When your coke-snorting, Vegas-loving co-worker leaves his wife, that’s just progression. But when your buttoned-down cousin the engineer decides his first motorcycle should be a Harley, you can bet things are about to get interesting.

valiant050104.jpg

Ricardo’s Valiant wasn’t as nice as this one.

Ricardo has always proudly driven crappy cars. First there was the 1970 golden-beige Valiant. It was noteworthy for its ability to drive under the unopened UBC parking gate, scraping like a barbecue dragged behind a truck, and look no worse afterwards. It had no reverse and only turned 20 degrees left – but those challenges were welcomed by Ric. Then came the 1985 Tercel, dubbed the Tercedes. It often had a puddle in the passenger seat and always had a collection of gym socks, condom wrappers, textbooks, half-eaten burritos and unpaid parking tickets scattered around the interior. A shitload of bumper stickers covered some of the rust and a Japanese Maple was taking root in the cargo area.

tercedes3.jpg

The Tercedes looked sweet like this when Ricardo got it, but things started to grow after just a few weeks.

Ricardo would sometimes rail condescendingly against those of us who were enamoured by rubber and sheet metal, but mostly he just didn’t understand. When I bought a new car he called it the Penis mobile, which I had no objection to. For him a car was about utility and the car that brought that utility with the smallest price tag was THE BEST CAR (contrary to his name, Ricardo is Scottish). Eventually his shitty cars became a badge of honour, and now that he has responsibilities and kids he still drives a beater.

And then I got a text.

“I want a fun car, something I’ve never had. Fun meaning fun to drive and pleasant to look at and sit in.”

My first thought was to say, ‘WTF? Has someone stolen your phone?’ After confirming the legitimacy of the transmission I realized I wanted to live vicariously and see how this calamity-in-the making would develop. And then maybe teach Ricardo how to drive his new car when his project achieves lift-off.

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The truth is I do have a collection of vintage sports cars. Photo – Cam McRae

I was a car nut when I was a kid. When I was little, I’d be so excited by a new die-cast Hot Wheels or Corgi that I’d take it to bed with me for the first few nights. When I outgrew Hot Rod Magazine, before I hit my teens, I subscribed to Road & Track. I read it cover to cover every month, lingering on Peter Egan’s Side Glances column.

I’ve had some cars that tick some of Ricardo’s boxes in a modest way. I owned a couple of different Sunbeam Alpines; one a bondo buggy that I sold after a few months and another that was in beautiful un-restored condition. It was a 1964 with original paint, 80,000 miles, a four speed stick and ‘electric overdrive’ in third and fourth. It had a removable hardtop but no soft top. I loved it but it was underpowered and sprung like a pint-sized Buick. My 1979 Honda Accord hatch became a surprisingly fun little machine when I put on some Pirellis and over-inflated them to 39 psi. After that I had an Acura Integra that loved to rev – and that was my peak.

alpine.jpg

My ’64 Sunbeam Alpine today, still owned by the guy I sold it to almost 30 years ago.

From then on my vehicles were about supporting my mountain bike habit. In the late 90s, my then-girlfriend and I bought a 1988 Volvo 740 GLE wagon (from the founders of Spot Brand Bikes) that we could sleep in the back of on race weekends. It was heavy and slow and it cost me $5000 in repairs and upkeep in the first year before settling in. I eventually sold it to a couple of Swiss mountain bikers on a B.C. singletrack tour. They were too young to rent a car.

For the last ten years I’ve driven a truck. It holds all the bikes and supporting gear and it’s great to drive. But, unless you drive it off road, which is a blast, it’s not going to get your heart pounding when things get curvy. And that used to be my favourite thing to do.

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A sports car is one that takes you places to get your sport on. Photo – Ollie Jones

Watching Ric, who didn’t know a WRX from an M3 before he caught this fever, checking out Audi S4s (too much money) the Scion FRS (too few seats) and everything in between, I started to wonder where my four-wheeled lust had gone. I could clearly see myself behind the wheel of an older 911 or another Alpine, but a Tiger this time, and I’m sure I’d have a blast owning, driving and tinkering with either one. But even if I had 50g begging to be spent frivolously, I was surprised and a little disappointed at first, by the realization that I wouldn’t spill it on a sports car.

And as I tinkered away on the bikes in our shop I had a realization; I’ve been pre-empting my midlife crisis most of my life. The void Ricardo wants to fill does not exist for me because I’ve been stuffing it full of bikes; and they charge me up more than an M3 convertible for a fraction of the cost.

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Postponing my midlife crisis one ride at a time. Photo – Pete Roggeman

I’m currently riding a Giant Reign. I’ve sprinkled it with hand-picked parts and it weighs less than 27lbs but it’s incredibly robust. It’s like a Ferrari that’s as reliable and inexpensive to own as a Corolla. I love working on it and looking at it and I can’t wait to ride it again soon. Sadly bringing it to bed with me is no longer an option.

My truck is like the weekend racer’s tow vehicle; it’s got everything needed to get me where I’m going, but because I get my adrenaline pumping on the track, I’m happy to cruise comfortably to my destination, easily tackling every crisis I encounter along the way.

Unfortunately Ricardo’s crisis car may be scrapped now that his wife’s caught wind of it, but I’m going to keep sending him cars I find on Craigslist. Because that’s what friends are for.


Epilogue

Ricardo realized, after long negotiations with his wife, that any penis mobile in his future would require seating for his entire family of five. This led him to the B.C. interior to check out a forest green 1967 Mustang convertible with a white top and interior. Driving that 50-year-old car with no power steering or brakes for a few minutes convinced his practical German side that there would be no Mustang in his future, and instead Ric and his wife bought a nearby property they stumbled upon to build a summer place for the family. But that's not quite the end of the story. Ricardo picked up a used 2010 Volkswagen GTI with a 5-spd as his daily driver and has discovered the joy of fast and nimble German-engineered automobiles. The GTI cost less than his new Knolly, so maybe that was his crisis vehicle.

1997_bmw_m3

If I had more money to drop, this would be on my short list. It's pretty much perfect, right down to the wheels. And yes I would add bike racks if it was mine. This one was on Bring-A-Trailer and was bid to 15k USD but it didn't meet the reserve price

Helping Ric in his search woke something in me and the desire for a sweet sounding sporty machine has begun to throb. I've been scratching the itch by simply looking at cars on Craigslist and Bring-A-Trailer, but eventually I may find something too sweet to pass up. Likely a mid 90s to mid 2000s BMW 325/330 sedan. With a stick of course. I'd really like an M3 sedan of similar vintage, but they are hard to find and outside my non-existent budget. Thus far bikes have kept my desire manageable, and the realization I don't have enough time to work on, let along ride my bikes.

Posted in: Editorial, Features

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Comments

ivansoto
0
ivansoto  - Aug. 31, 2015, 3:23 p.m.

For a lot of people it's about reaching stability. Imagine some people study for a long time, struggle to find a good job, then get married, have kids, buy a house, etc. After then reach all that (they settle) they ask themselves: What Now?

I've seen that happening to a lot of my friends, they reach a stable life and then they start to get bored, hence they start buying random things.

Reply

sospeedy
+1 taprider
sospeedy  - June 26, 2015, 6:15 a.m.

VW GTi. A sporty, nimble car….and you can still get the bike in the back…or it also looks fine on the roof too!

Reply

miked.
0
can't pedal backwards  - June 24, 2015, 8:50 p.m.

Great read, Cam. Still one of my favourite writers in mountain bike journalism.

I feel like I live in bizzaro world from you and Ricardo. I still love cars, drive the car I want, but have to limit my riding locations because I can't drive it up rough old logging roads.

I have a harder time selling my wife on my need of a new bike and the desire for a pickup truck than spending too much on the car.

And yet I envy you both. My mid life crisis will look like an average day for you. Early morning coffee in my pickup truck in remote B.C. with my new $10,000 bike on the back .

Reply

cooper
+1 danimaniac
Cooper Quinn  - June 25, 2015, 9:48 a.m.

Do what I somehow pulled off: S4 Avant for me, and convince the wife to get an Xterra (or pickup, if you prefer…)

Reply

mark-karlstrand
0
Mark Karlstrand  - June 24, 2015, 8:41 p.m.

Hmm, mid-life crisis sounds like a good excuse to justify a new bike purchase. Thanks for the tip guys!

Reply

reformed-roadie
0
reformed roadie  - June 24, 2015, 7:19 p.m.

I cannot quite wrap my head around how the empty condom wrappers got in the Terecedes…

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1 TucsonMike
Cam McRae  - June 24, 2015, 9:42 p.m.

Despite his mode of transport Ricardo had plenty of opportunities to use contraception.

Reply

qduffy
+1 Cam McRae
qduffy  - June 24, 2015, 4:07 p.m.

I'm a car guy. Still am, I think. But I'm in the same boat as you, Cam. My car lust is slaked in other ways. Mostly carbon fiber ways.

Reply

penelope
0
Penelope  - June 24, 2015, 2:37 p.m.

Your friend's partner might understand the attraction to shiny fast things, but may be baffled by the options that your friend is suggesting in his quest to marry sexy and practical…
Nice piece btw 🙂

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - June 24, 2015, 3:14 p.m.

Thanks Penelope. And you are right, she is baffled.

Reply

naveed-nasir
+1 Cam McRae
Naveed Nasir  - June 24, 2015, 1:33 p.m.

brilliant piece, great work Cam

Reply

bd0t
0
bd0t  - June 24, 2015, 1:24 p.m.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - June 24, 2015, 2:05 p.m.

Just sent this one to Ricardo. I think it's perfect.

Reply

bd0t
0
bd0t  - June 24, 2015, 2:21 p.m.

Nice! Much more reasonably priced than the Porsche 😀

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - June 24, 2015, 2:28 p.m.

And just slightly more practical as well!

Reply

rvoi
0
rvoi  - June 25, 2015, 8:20 a.m.

Every mid-life crisis sufferer buys a car! Sounds like what he really needs is a $12,000 "wonder" bike… as in I wonder why he bought this?…

Reply

taprider
0
taprider  - July 3, 2020, 1:49 p.m.

just sent what one?

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - July 5, 2020, 10:54 p.m.

There was previously a link to vehicle of some sort but it's no longer showing up.

Reply

OLDF150
+4 minotaur lewis collins Cam McRae Pete Roggeman
Kerry Williams  - July 3, 2020, 4:10 p.m.

I too am a total car fan.  But, I'm far from wealthy and struggle to justify my $5000 mountain bike. So, I get my kicks playing Dirt Rally 2.0 on the PS4 when all the duties are taken care of but riding isn't in the cards.  I have as much fun as I can in my old Impreza automagic while getting to the trails where the real fun begins. the beauty of mountain bikes is that unlike cars, I can ride a piece of finely tuned machinery as fast and far as my skills will let me. I'm riding a bike that is the car equivalent of a Corvette, STI, Shelby Mustang (no I don't have Ferrari level bike budget lol) and I love that it takes so much abuse and just asks for a little chain lube and bolt check every ride.  Those that say mountain bikes are a rip off should look at what it costs to get the same level of experience out of any other machinery. To me, they are a bargain. I love this sport and I love the vehicles that get us there.

Reply

LAT
+1 Cam McRae
LAT  - July 4, 2020, 6:11 p.m.

Very well put and I agree on all fronts, though I’m all about grand tourismo.

Reply

Vikb
+5 Andrew Major grcgrc minotaur Cam McRae Pete Roggeman
Vik Banerjee  - July 3, 2020, 5:34 p.m.

I sold my last motorcycle and managed to kill my aftermarket tuning VW habit before either of them managed to kill or bankrupt me. Focusing on mountain bikes in my 50's means I can ride pro-level equipment, custom tuned suspension and have a 2-3 MTB quiver without derailing my retirement plans. 

That and riding MTBs is actually healthy for me since I manage not to crash badly very often.

I do have a nice pick up truck, but I paid cash for it 10 years ago and will be driving it another 10-15 years.

Reply

jonas-dodd
+2 Cam McRae Pete Roggeman
Jonas Dodd  - July 3, 2020, 7:49 p.m.

The Bring-a-Trailer reference took me down a serious rabbit hole :)

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1 Pete Roggeman
Cam McRae  - July 5, 2020, 10:56 p.m.

One of the cheapest guilty pleasures out there! Unless you pull the trigger of course.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - July 6, 2020, 11:53 a.m.

It's cheap to look, unless you consider the impact on your time budget!

Reply

Shortyesquire
+1 Pete Roggeman
Andrew Collins  - July 3, 2020, 9:03 p.m.

I've always loved Godzillas since Gran Turismo came out on the ps1. I almost bought a V35 when I was shitty at my wife a couple of years ago (worst reason to buy a car ever). 

Instead I've become a total bikeslut and just keep buying nice bikes secondhand. So far I've got a slew of Turners, Pivots, Banshees, Lynskeys, a Pole, Canfield etc etc. I'm a so-so rider but the bikes make me happy, and I think I've spent less than a quarter on my bikes then I would have on the GTR, which would have only caused trouble, divorce or both.

Reply

kos
+1 Pete Roggeman
Kos  - July 4, 2020, 7 a.m.

"The void Ricardo wants to fill does not exist for me because I’ve been stuffing it full of bikes; and they charge me up more than an M3 convertible for a fraction of the cost."

Bang on!

Reply

Poz
+1 Pete Roggeman
Poz  - July 5, 2020, 9:58 a.m.

I identify with this too. I’ve used it as an n+1 argument point with my wife. It’s all preventative actions for a mid life crisis involving a $80k car and pony tail!

Reply

tashi
+1 Pete Roggeman
tashi  - July 4, 2020, 11:45 a.m.

I’m with you in the older BMW’s - I’m keeping my eyes peeled (and wearing my wife down) for a wagon (“Touring”) with a stick from a similar era. We have the practical car (Atlas) and now I figure the aging mushbox Outback (the worlds least fun manual transmission?)  can be replaced with something a bit more fun that can still take the kids and dog. 

Gotta be a wagon though.  Big pupper doesn’t fit in a euro back seat.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+2 Pete Roggeman tashi
Cam McRae  - July 5, 2020, 10:53 p.m.

Those are the holy grail! I'd like a manual touring as well but they are so scarce I've almost stopped searching. I may not have the patience.

Reply

kos
+1 Pete Roggeman
Kos  - July 6, 2020, 6:50 a.m.

For sure, one of two cars that I:

Never. Should. Have. Sold!

Reply

jan
0
Jan  - July 8, 2020, 10:08 p.m.

I have an e91 325xi 6MT with 260K km, (Monaco Blue + black interior). It's not listed for sale yet because it's stuck in WA with me and my recently expired BC residency - however it's a BC vehicle and will be up for sale in Van in the next month. Keep an eye out if you're interested.

Reply

tashi
0
tashi  - July 12, 2020, 4 p.m.

That’s a nice rig, but what I REALLY want is that basic, go-cart feel that the older RWD BMW’s have.

The big ol’ Atlas has the maximum traction bases covered now. Time for the second car to be fun AND practical.

Reply

tashi
0
tashi  - July 12, 2020, 3:58 p.m.

SO rare. Boooo. I’d take a c-class too, but I dont think they ever did a wagon with a stick, even the sedans are hard to find that way.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 tashi
Pete Roggeman  - July 6, 2020, 11:55 a.m.

I also love me a german wagon. And once owned a 5-speed Outback and yes, other than keeping the left foot busy, it wasn't a blast like many others I've owned. Still, there's a reason so many people have them - they're incredibly practical and there are many times I wish I still had it.

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - July 6, 2020, 5:19 p.m.

I miss my S4A very, very much.

Reply

jitenshakun
0
Jitensha Kun  - July 6, 2020, 1:03 p.m.

I can relate to the vintage car thing.  The problem is once you buy one you'll probably want a 2nd one.  It's a known fact that these cars get lonely and need a garage companion.

In reference to the original article I'd like to point out the inaccuracy of the name "Tercedes". Anyone that has owned one knows the accurate name is "Turdcel".

Reply

bogey
0
Bogey  - July 7, 2020, 2:19 a.m.

A buddy of mine had a red Tercel that I dubbed the Terrari. That nickname stuck with the car until it finally blew into pieces after being hammered on for 15 years.

Reply

tashi
0
tashi  - July 12, 2020, 4:01 p.m.

My wife’s 4wd wagon was a Tercedes. 

I’m just sayin’.

Reply

rigidjunkie
+1 Jitensha Kun
Allen Lloyd  - July 7, 2020, 7:45 a.m.

It has always been cars for me too.  3 years ago I moved from Ohio to Montana, before moving I sold my track rat Miata to fund a Hightower.  A few friends have bought new bikes this year and when I look there is nothing I would prefer to my bike right now. If mine broke I would get an aluminum Hightower.

Car projects are a great past time.  I'm currently working on an 85 Fiero.  Bought for $1,000 blew the engine and will replace it with a K20 from an Acura.  The goal is a very reliable car to take on drives and hit some tracks along the way.  I learned my lesson with the Miata, always keep the car comfortable enough to drive for a few hours or you will stop driving the fun car.  I think the same applies to bikes, make sure your still challenged or you will get bored.  My Hightower is still limited by my abilities so I enjoy trying to get more out of it.

Reply

el_jefe
0
el_jefe  - July 7, 2020, 9:02 p.m.

As much as I LOVE mtbiking and it is by far and away my main (summertime) activity, there is NOTHING that makes me feel more alive than dropping knees in corners on my Ducati. Gotta have 'em both... especially when I drive a Tacoma as my daily driver. Love the truck, but it sure isn't very exciting on the road.

Reply

ken-leggatt
+1 tashi
Ken Leggatt  - July 13, 2020, 8:38 p.m.

Hahaha! I bought a convertible and a new bike!!! :)

Reply

tashi
0
tashi  - July 14, 2020, 9:43 a.m.

And > or every time.

Reply

tashi
0
tashi  - July 14, 2020, 9:43 a.m.

And > or every time.

Reply

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