There's a phenomenon in bicycling circles akin to Spring Fever known as Big Event Fever. Pasty faced cyclists climb down off their wind trainers and begin a legendary migration, the migration of bicycle parts and all manner of "good stuff" that can loosely be termed sporting equipment. These parts, which the owner considers old junk are sold, while said owner buys other people's old junk, which by the miracle of its belonging to someone else, is transformed into treasure. I don't know about that groundhog, but when the Big Event rolls around you can be sure that Spring is here.
Since the event is biennial, Big Event fever usually starts about a year ahead of the event. My personal symptoms begin when I realize I need something to keep my rolling stock rolling, and I remember there was one such item at the last BE for a bargain price. So I apply massive quantities of string, baling wire, and duct tape, and hope the part in question can hang in there long enough for me to get a replacement at the Big Event.
My personal balance of trade is always negative, i.e., I bring home much more than I unload. This happens for several reasons. First is that most of the bike stuff I own is pretty well trashed before I'd consider getting rid of it. Hence its potential resale value (assuming I could find anyone to buy it) is much less than its potential usefulness to me (so it goes to the Great Parts Pile under the porch). Second, I'm a sucker for a bargain. Witness my collection of Bata Bikers in a size not very close to mine that will probably end up in my estate. So, when I go to the Big Event, Susan has to hold me back lest I completely empty the Donohue coffers.
Witness the $5 telephone. This was my introduction to the world of cordless phones (I'm still light years away from a cellular phone, but then I never thought I'd own a VCR). Jamie warned me that there was "a little static" on the phone. Being as it was a bargain, I was prepared to put up with a signal to noise ratio in the vicinity of 1, but when I brought it home, Susan refused to use it. I suggested using the intercom option, so that I could order a cold one from down in the cellar, but this idea was not received with much enthusiasm either.
Then there was the year I bought the Bugger. No, this has nothing to do with perversion, the Cannondale Bugger is probably the first bicycle trailer. Now I've always secretly wanted one (I know not why), but was too cheap to spring for the $200 that they cost new. Now, here one was for $75. A bargain I could not pass up. On its maiden voyage (back from the BE), we stopped at our friends Bob and Joan's house. Joan took one look at it and said "A wickyup!" That name stuck for all the time I owned the thing. One of the first times I used the wickyup, I noticed it had a rather annoying tendency to jackknife. That coupled with the fact that you needed the clearance of an eighteen wheeler to turn it, and the clearance of a small sports car to ride it in traffic, made it somewhat less than the dream machine I had envisioned. It became clear that my love affair with the wickyup was over and it was time to unload it. I tried the Wheelpeople, and has some feelers, but mostly from people who were interested in carrying kids around. I assured them that it was an ideal kid carrier -- just lash them in with a couple of bungees cords (not included) and away you go, but no sale. So I finally unloaded it at another Big Event two years later at a considerable loss. But then I did have the pleasure of owning a wickyup for two years.
Another great buy was the Campy brakeset. I have never owned anything Campy, for obvious reasons ($$). Here was my chance, to ride with the greats, Fausto Coppi, etc, for peanuts. Only problem was that I needed to buy a bike to go with them -- they're short reach and all my trashmo bikes at the time were long reach. But I take them out of the box every once in a while and admire them. Who knows, they may reappear at yet another Big Event.
Like Barry and Eliot's sofa, The Big Event has a secret. The secret is that the price of the item includes some room for negotiation. There's a secret code to determine the minimum price vs the asking price. Of course, since practically everyone who comes brings something to sell, it's not much of a secret. But they do suck in some unwary tourists or yuppies who insist on paying retail. Since the savvy consumers (i.e., everyone) started offering the minimum price right off the bat, they started not selling for the reduced price till after noon. This made it more like an auction. If you really wanted item Z, you'd plunk down the cash to secure it, rather than holding out for a better deal and having it snapped up by a yuppie or someone from Kansas.