Investing in the Future

Over the eons man has sought to invest in things seemingly offering them a secure future. Gold and diamonds, for instance.

There are others who say “You only live once. Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride”

At 83 now, I feel “the weight of years” (not necessarily in terms of extra kilos although that is true) but in the sense of recognising more fully that time is passing.

As my friend Mo used to say “Too soon old. Too late wise”. I am not claiming the onset of belated wisdom but rather the realisation of how lucky I have been in having the ability – in having had the opportunity – to make choices in the course of my life.

That hindsight gives 20:20 vision. It now becomes obvious looking back over these decades, I can now see clearly that what at the time I regarded as “reverses of fortune” were in fact obstacles which led me to choose a different path, leading to where I now find myself.

In correspondence with Suzi Mills – the founding editor of Ride Magazine – I mentioned a book by A.B.Facey called “A Fortunate Life”.
The takeaway from this book for me is that sometimes – as in Facey’s case – each seeming setback led to some opportunity to better himself and his situation.
Whereas prosperity makes choice optional, on the other hand adversity forces decisions. One door closes and if another resists opening you have to find the key within yourself to step through…if you want to step up.

Nevertheless and often, the maxim that “Life’s problems present opportunities” is not always apparent at the time, resulting in regrets later “when the boat has sailed” *
*That phrase incidentally comes from Shakespeare’s …
“There comes a tide in the affairs of man which, taken at the flood, leads on to fame and fortune.
Omitted all the voyage of their lives are bound in shallows and in misery.
On such a full sea are we now afloat”

In the 1960s and 1970s, when things were going well for me in business I chose to spend money on indulging my passion for bicycle collecting.
In the early 1990s, although the colours of Rainbow Nation seemed to promise a pot of gold at the end for all, those few who then rose to the top of the cycle of change, capitalised on the opportunity to seize the pot of gold for themselves.

Since then many have chosen to write about a new sense of Ubuntu*. I sincerely hope they are right.It is in this spirit of guarded optimism that I make these observations.

*A Zulu term meaning “humanity towards others” sometimes translated as “I am because we are”

I never saw spending on my bicycle collection as an INVESTMENT. Indeed I made scant provision for retirement. I rather figured that my model car collection might “one day be worth something”. I had seen that hobby grow enormously over the years and in so doing acquire a monetary value as certain models became rare and collectible.

Being the only person at the time seriously interested in buying the steel bicycles others discarded as having little or no trade-in value, in a market where everyone wanted the new lighter aluminium frames, was to my benefit longer term. I developed a reputation for paying a good price so local bicycle shops sent their customers to me, I paid them what amounted to a good discount on a new bicycle. Everybody won …the local bike shop made the sale of a new bicycle, the rider got his new aluminium racer and I added some more old steel to my collection.

So here’s the bottom line, vintage steel bicycle collecting in South Africa in the last few years has reached a stage where there is an emerging recognition that one can perhaps acquire an eminently rideable investment!

One may point out that the rescuing and restoration of vintage cars has shown the way. However whereas you DRIVE a car, you RIDE a bicycle.
It may take you longer to get from A to B, but that is not the point.
Investing in cycling will prolong your LIFE CYCLE and extend enjoyment of good health into retirement. And if that is not a sound investment I don’t know what is.

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