I spent some time mountain biking Sunday evening and after thought started thinking about the significant pieces of sporting equipment in my life. So here is the list in chronological order:
1. My first pair of roller blades. I was about six years old and finding rollers blades small enough was nearly impossible. Roller blading was all the rage and my parents took me around to several different stores before we found a pair that fit. Finally it was after dark and we were the only people at the store and we found a pair of three wheel rollerblades. They had black boots and orange wheels. I wore them obscessively until I grew out of them.
2. A 1980s Miyata professional bicycle. My dad traded a car for two bikes in 1995 and we thought he was crazy. Six years later I rode it for the first time and was simply blown away. It has Dura Ace cranks Campy shifters. It's top of the line 25 years ago. It still rides amazingly well. I've probably rode 2000 miles on it.
3. My bb gun. While shooting is not a terribly physical sport it was the precursor to walking dozens of miles at odd hours of the day in cold weather hunting stuff. In fact I even had a bb gun range set up in my basement for several years. I shot so many bbs. I tried every style of shooting I had ever heard of including using mirrors and laying on my back.
4. My first backpacking backpack. The year was about 1998 and I was asked what I wanted for Christmas and at the age of 13 I knew that I wanted this particular backpack. More than 100 nights of backpacking later it is still going strong. I did upgrade in 2009 to a pack two pounds lighter but my original is still going strong. It weighs only four pounds, which is still considered light a decade later. Who knew that a Camp Trails Shasta backpack would help me cover hundreds of miles, ferry loads of up to 70 pounds, and even be useful as an elephants foot (bivy sack).
5. A pair of Five Ten Hueco rock climbing shoes. In 2002 in Albequerque on the way to Arizona I bought my first piece of climbing equipment for 130 dollars and I still climb in them from time to time. I have spent a lot of money on a very wide range of stuff designed to take me farther, but first is first. Before that purchase I was a backpacker and hiker. After that I officially started my climbing career.
The point is not every dollar is spent equally. The other point is to appreciate your health (activity). In 2008 during the five graduation speeches one of my friends quoted our football coach who said "you are a ten million dollar machine. I know many very rich people who would trade their millions to have the ability to do what you take for granted. So take care of your body because you only get one." My parents are geniuses. They got me involved in everything from trumpet to baseball and I think I figured out what I want a lot sooner than most. They bought me bicycles, hockey sticks, and swimming lessons, but no video games. What can I say I have a great technical education yet I value my ability to "just do it" more at this point in my life than I do working for the man who would require me to give up the ability. (Not that I have been fortunate enough to have to make that choice yet. I am just scared to.)
It is very very strange the twists and turns that life takes.