I think it's an Austin thing (I'm sure they're other towns similar). Having come from San Diego, by way of Nor Cal, and being here in Austin the last four years; there is definitely a culture of spending Sh&$loads of money on your bike. I see many people rolling up to the line in Cat 4 & 5 races on 15K worth of bike at every race around here.
I'm not saying I wouldn't spend 15K on a bike if I had the chance because I absolutely would. Wife and kids take priority for me, not leaving a lot of cash for bikes.
Oh, don't get me wrong, I have spent waaaaayyyy too much on bikes. I have the dedicated TT bike with the Zipp disc and a set of carbon wheels on the race bike for flatter races. I'm also in the serious minority around here.
My bikes are decidedly mid-range, which I consider about right given my meager talents. I keep having to stop myself from forgoing grocery shopping so I can bring home a fancy new bike. I know as soon as I did, it would only be a year or two before I would want some other bike and the cycle would start again. I already built up a low-end cross bike this year, so I should probably be happy.
Instead of buying a new bike, I rebuilt a teammate's bike with a new drivetrain. He appreciated it a lot more than I would have appreciated a shiny new hunk of carbon, and now I have a dedicated domestique for the season. Win-win.
Sooner or later I'll cave in, and I'll drop the money on the fancy bike. It's only a matter of time, so I can't cast stones at those guys. It was just surprising to me to see so much in one low-level race. If it makes them happy and more likely to race, more power to them.
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