Rethinking Quiver Theory: Beyond N+1

In many sports or hobbies, the established theory is that the correct number of e.g. kayaks to own, is determined by the the formula N+1, where N is the number of kayaks you currently own.

A different formula that is sometimes used is N = S – 1, where S is the number where cherished social relationships (such as a marriage, or friendship with a housemate) would begin to break down.

I believe these models are simplistic. How, for example, do we reconcile the cycling axiom “It’s all about the bike” vs the skiing axiom “Tools not jewels”?* We love our gear, but in these days of jobs, actual social lives, and housing costs rising at escape velocity, alas, we have only so much love to give. Stuff left gathering dust in the garage is sad. I will now propose a new formula.

The correct number of skis/bikes/boards/boats/ropes/climbing racks to own, is given by the formula

N <= min { r_N }

Where r is the number of times an item of gear is used per season, or per year.

So, for example, if you have 3 kayaks, to justify your quiver, each kayak must be paddled at least 3 times a year. If you have 4 pairs of skis, each pair should be taken out at least 4 times a season. As you can see, this new formula is increasingly brutal on people who have too much shit but don’t get out enough.

A criticism that might be made, is that this is perfect for justifying my own quivers. To which I would say, yes.

An obvious lemma, is that a weekend warrior who averages one recreational ride per week, cannot justify owning more than 7 bikes if they are going to give each bike the minimum amount of love (as 8 x 8 > 52). This should, honestly, be a reassuringly large number for almost everyone. At the very least, it should encourage you to dust off some of the more obscure bits of gear in the garage and take them out for a spin more often.

* the solution is that road cyclists are wankers.


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