Bicycling is certainly the most material of the sports in existence, short of professional motor racing. I tend to worry, and compulsively obsess, about having the very best parts out there, from power meters to tires to aero bars. With all the items I need and want to buy, I find that I need to stop and simply ride my bicycle every now and then.

In an attempt to divert my own materialistic tendencies, I spent some time on my subway ride home this evening contemplating the exact role of all of these gizmos and gadgets, eventually arriving at a core question of technology versus marketing.

I am a professional technologist. My day job - computer system administration - is one in which I work with a group of individuals to provide and support a technological infrastructure for end users. The end users have the supreme luxury of being able to depend on us for the design, care, and feeding of the systems we build.

As a bicyclist and a bicycle mechanic, I find myself forced to be both the producer and the consumer of technology, both the user and the administrator. My goal is to ride my bicycle, as fast as I can, and as far as I can, without having to stop. I want my experience on the bicycle to be seamless. If I push the pedal down, I want to glide forward. If I press a shifter button, I want to be in a different gear. I'm very demanding.

Unfortunately, in these winter months, I spend more time obsessing about my bicycle and its parts than I do riding it. Do I need the 100mm or the 110mm stem? Is the Garmin Edge 705 a worthwhile purchase, given that it has mapping capability, but won't talk to my PowerTap, and I already have an Edge 305? Will my bicycle's stretched out geometry allow me to run aero bars in a comfortable position? If my bicycle is refusing to shift, should I repair or replace the defective components?

My girlfriend and I have somewhat disparate views. We will both push the limits of the technology we have, but she is far more reluctant than I am to try new things.

It is important, be it with computers, bicycles, or any other major (and expensive!) technological system, to not let materialism rule.