An 8,000- Day Journey on a Mountain Bike at 8mph

October 07, 2020

A couple of years ago, I shared with you my first experiences as a new mountain bike rider. On my very first ride, my brand new bike made it to the bottom of the first steep hill before I did (mountain bike disc brakes are quite sensitive to panicking fingers!). On my second ride, I did the two things you are not supposed to do when crossing a bridge. I stopped pedaling and looked down… and yes, I went off the side of the bridge. This inauspicious start to my life as a mountain biker left me a bit risk averse on the trails.

Well, this morning, I went out for a beautiful fall ride, and when not worried about approaching bridges and steep hills, my mind wandered to a theme for this quarter's commentary to you. I often write with analogies, and for years, have compared our relationship with your family or institution in nautical terms. Your treasure is sailing with us on the boat you spent decades building, and it's the job of the crew at Golden Pond to get you to your dream destination. Today, we trade the boat for a mountain bike and head out on an 8,000-day journey. Team Golden Pond’s goal is to average 8mph so we can stay well ahead of Team Inflation and Taxes, which we expect will be cruising the trails at about 4mph. Before we begin, let's take a look at the conditions of the trails that lay ahead of us: The following trails are primarily UPHILL… filled with rocks, roots, and curves and yes, they also have quite a few of  those nasty bridges:                                                                                                                                                                         

    Coronavirus Climb
    Deficit and Debt Ditch
    Politics of the Extreme Ravine
    Rich and Poor Gap
    Made in China Exchange

  Our focus on the uphill trails can't be to look for shortcuts and take unnecessary risks to attain the magic 8mph, but rather to maintain our balance and composure and keep climbing. We can't look down at the rough, uphill terrain right under our bike, but instead, commit to staying strong enough and keeping our bike maintained so we can accelerate on the downhills and straightaways up ahead ….and the worst thing we could ever do would be to panic and stop pedaling!

These trails are mostly DOWNHILL with lots of straightaways and machine-groomed smooth surfaces:

Vaccine and Immunotherapy Fast Track
Fed and Fiscal Stimulus Alley
Fiscal Stimulus Extension—Under Construction
Innovation and Productivity Acceleration Pass
Low Inflation and Taxes Turnpike

It is on these trails where we should be able to make up time lost climbing hills and accelerate to an average of over 8mph. However, our experience has taught us to always be ready with the brakes (gently!) as hidden at the bottom of the hill might be a washed-out bridge, hairpin turn, or…a hungry BEAR.

Can we get there from here?

Unlike yours truly, who is a relative newcomer to the real sport of mountain biking, Team Golden Pond has collectively spent over 150 years on the investment trails and has pedaled up, over, and around the steepest of hills and through the fiercest of storms. In addition, our commitment to continually invest in the latest technology means we are riding bikes with sophisticated gears and space-age, lightweight materials for acceleration but, just as important, disc brakes, shocks, and big tough tires for when the trails get bumpy ….and a GPS/IPS to guide us when the trail gets foggy. We also regularly inspect our equipment and perform any maintenance and upgrades required to give us every edge possible on the trail.

A recent review of the terrain ahead tells us that we are likely to spend a couple of years on very expensive machine-groomed trails, which we will eventually have to pay for, and then it will be a bit bumpier and uphill for a few years.

As we approach the Presidential election, you may be concerned about how the outcome might impact your portfolio. With that in mind, we have attached a piece here that reviews the performance of the markets through Republican and Democratic administrations dating back 40 years. Sticking with the mountain biking analogy, history does suggest that staying in balance closer to the middle than the left or right edge of the trail, and keeping our eyes on the horizon instead of looking down at the bumps or bridge in front of us is critical to completing our 8,000 mile journey at 8mph.

It is our privilege to be your guide on this bumpy ride through the mountains. Please reach out if you would like to schedule a review via Zoom with Bert, Katie, or me or just for an old-fashioned phone call. Katie will be returning to work next week and will spend a couple of days a week in the office and a couple working remotely. We are all excited to have her rejoin the team!

Brian Bernatchez, CFP®
"Managing Mountain Biker"

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