I’d like to get my mother a bike this year. The snow on the ground and the smallness of my parents’ condominium make it an impractical Christmas gift, but maybe in the spring. She is 70 now and can see that the exercise and mobility it might giver her could well see her to 80. I’m thinking a step-through.
I bought my oldest son a bike before he was ready to ride. I was so excited to reenact the wheels-in-front-of-tree joy of my own childhood, that I set myself up for the disappointment of watching him tear wrapping paper to shreds in the corner, oblivious to the gift, oblivious to the moment. It is, apparently, the thought that counts, so best have some (thoughts) before giving gifts.
But then, of all the people I could give a bike to, or more accurately, give cycling to, my wife is at the very top of the list. I’ve given her bikes, a commuter I built her when we were in college, a mountain bike in the ’90s, a road bike a few years back. If I’m honest, those were gifts to myself, or maybe viewed in a kinder light, wishes that I could share this thing that I love so dearly with someone I love so dearly. She never really rode any of them. She is not a cyclist.
It’s easy to give someone a bike. It’s harder to give them cycling, to help them to connect to that feeling of freedom, joy, exploration, speed, solitude, connection, utility that keeps us all in the saddle. Nonetheless, I will keep trying.
This week’s Group Ride asks, in honor of Christmas, if you could give someone cycling, not a bicycle, but the love of the bicycle and the passion for riding that you have, who would you give it to?
Gift giving is one of those activities that can take years to really appreciate. I didn’t get the value of it when I was a kid. Like the Grinch, there came a point when I’d like to think my heart grew three sizes. I doubt very much it happened in a single year, let alone a single event. The giving has come to mean much more to me and if I’m honest, I’ll admit that I think much less of giving than I think of sharing. I’ve still got a fundamentally selfish streak in me and writing is an activity I undertake first, and foremost, to satisfy me. Publishing my work is more an act of sharing than giving.
In as much as RKP can give a gift to you readers, I’d like to think we’ve been doing that all year long. So on this day we think of gifts both physical and spiritual, here’s to hoping that you got some gifts you were hoping for and were able to give some gifts that brought smiles to the faces of those you love. Most of all, I’m writing to thank you for the year you’ve given me. From the growth of our readership to the incredible support you showed me with the beer fund, this year has been an education in the power of the written word. My greatest Christmas gift is what you have given me this year and now being healthy enough to look back over the year that was and to have a chance to take it all in.
Thank you all for reading. I hope the holiday season brings you and yours much happiness.
It’s the Christmas season and with that comes a myriad of changes to our routines. There’s the change in traffic; with so many people out shopping, it makes it seem like there are twice as many people on the road both when I’m out for training rides and later in the day when I try to run any errand. There’s the fact that it’s mid-December; with the planet approaching the winter solstice almost everyone in the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing colder temperatures on rides—and you all fortunate enough to be in the Southern Hemisphere and headed into summer can do us all a favor and try not to rub it in. Let’s not forget all the gifts; with Christmas comes the opportunity to get stuff we want, not to mention the chance to express our love for others in the form of the gifts we give them.
We’ve talked here previously about who you would like to give the gift of cycling to. The rich array of answers was fascinating as much for the why of how you chose as for the who that you did choose.
I’ll admit, when I was a kid, I was much more focused on the getting than the giving. I didn’t put much into the giving and so the dividends—that sense of pleasure you get from seeing another person light up when they receive your gift—were pretty insignificant. It took a while to realize that the more I put into it, the more I got out of it.
This year, the gift I’d most like to give isn’t cycling, it’s learning. I’ve already given my son cycling this year; I’m glad I didn’t wait until his birthday or Christmas to give him the gift of cycling—we’ve had so much fun, I feel like I got Christmas back in April. So now I’m trying to figure out a way to afford an iPad mini for him. He’s becoming more interested in computers but if we give him free access to our iPad, we will never get access to it again. Still, I have this feeling that an iPad can’t top having given him a bike earlier this year.
I don’t think of RKP as a place where I give. I do what I’m naturally inclined to do—write—and then I have the good fortune to have a bunch of people stop by to read my work, not to mention the work of others, work that I publish because I think it’s pretty terrific.
But this FGR is going to be a little different. What do YOU want? I don’t mean what gear, what destination, what win—I’m wondering what it is you’d like from RKP? I’ve got designs for next year, things I’d like to do more of, ways I’d like to expand our content. But I’m curious, if we were to give you a gift of content (perhaps even something else?) what would you like to see us do more of; what new areas of content would you welcome?
Today is what is known in the US as Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the official beginning of the consumer frenzy that precedes Christmas. Bike shops across the country will spend this period selling off last year’s unsold inventory and trying to get their books into the black before the New Year comes and puts a general chill on cycling-related commerce.
Eurobike and Interbike allowed bike companies to trot out their wares only very recently. Padraig made a Herculean effort to highlight those wares here, here, here and here, and I was fortunate, this season, to be able to walk the show floor with him and talk about the relative merits of each company’s offering. I, for one, benefit from his insight, as he has this uncanny ability to tell you how something that looks shiny and fast on a pedestal in a conference hall will actually perform out on the road.
My own interests, this year, run almost entirely to more traditional products, made domestically. I can’t get enough wool jerseys. I can’t stop looking at the steel and Ti bikes being turned out by custom builders all over the country. I want almost everything Ibex makes. I want the latest Merckx biographies, and I want more hats. What is it about hats?
Oh, and I need some gloves that will keep my hands operational when the mercury dips below 30F. Suggestions?
This week’s Group Ride ignores completely the shameless consumerism of the season and instead indulges it. What the hell? What do you really, really want for Christmas? Is it a set of wheels? Is it a trainer and a stack of race videos? Are you likely to get whatever it is? Or do you live with a cycling Grinch, someone who doesn’t understand the mania you have for the finest Swiss toe warmers.
When I was eight-years-old, I awoke on Christmas morning to find a bright red BMX bike perched quietly in front of the tree. The moment I breached the living room and glimpsed that bike for the first time is a moment stuck in my head for eternity, or at least for my geologically narrow slice of it.
My next clear memory is of riding that bike, full tilt down the street, wearing a brand new Oshman’s track suit. No doubt I was on my way to rubbing my opulent good fortune in the faces of the other neighborhood kids. I had been wobbling along behind them all on a beat purple kiddie bike, silver sparkle saddle, for a full year. In a Christmas instant, I vaulted from worst to first.
Next to the moment I first learned to ride, training-wheel-free, under my own steam, that Christmas morning remains one of my most cherished memories, and if it’s true that we spend our whole cycling lives trying to recapture that first moment of freedom, there is a parallel drive to relive that first dream bike acquisition.
Now, you’re not a kid anymore, except possibly in mind and maturity, but just imagine the coming holiday promises a bike in front of a tree. Now, before we get all wrapped up in “but I don’t celebrate Christmas,” or “I don’t believe in Santa,” or “I don’t have a tree,” or even “I practice an ancient, animist religion that eschews the giving and/or receiving of gifts,” let’s just be kids for a minute here. All we have to believe today is that we’re going to wake up one morning in a week-and-a-half and find a dream bike in front of a tree, which, for whatever reason, is standing in our living room.
What’s the bike? What color is it? What are you gonna do with it? And, most importantly (or not at all), who is going to be envious?
I happen to have this bike in the works for myself. It’s a custom, Ti single-speed mountain bike, set up with tubeless 650b wheels, disc brakes and a generous application of kick ass. I’m not sure it will make it to the tree, or at least not the one set up in my living room.
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This is a time of year when people celebrate. Whether you enjoy Christmas for religious or secular reasons, remember the eight nights of Hanukkah, party to Kwanzaa or save it all up for New Year’s Eve, some holiday very likely has you in its sights, and hopefully, it, you. It’s a time for gifts both large and small.
If there’s anything more fun than finding the perfect gift for someone I love and seeing the look on their face when they open it, I’ve yet to experience that pleasure. The other pleasure that I am familiar with, though, is getting a killer gift.
My personal belief on both getting and giving gifts is that they should speak to the recipient and their loves. The very best among them are extravagances, maybe not in price, but the object is something the recipient might not buy on their own. My wife once purchased a limited-edition CD by one of my favorite artists. The sleeve was autographed. I’d never have purchased that myself.
Getting a gift of anything cycling-related is one of those special treats. It’s an endorsement of one of our great loves and let’s us know it’s not on the chopping block of our free time for the foreseeable future.
Some of you will be opening presents tonight, some tomorrow morning and others have had it complete for days. No matter. We’d love to hear what cycling treasures you received—or gave.
RKP will be taking a short hiatus between Christmas and New Year’s. I’m going to be working on a book and some of the first entries for a new department on peloton magazine‘s web site called “Artisans.” It starts with the new year.
Peloton has an additional treat in store for you. There will be another new department on their web site, also beginning in January, this one called “Wisdom.” It will feature excerpts from my book “No Drop Zone,” to be published by Menasha Ridge Press in May. It’s a how-to aimed at new roadies. It’s my goal that any reader will find something useful in its contents.
I hope you’ll bear with the absence while I try to get some serious base miles in my writing legs on these two fronts.
A true mixed bag of Xmas gifts this year. I was shocked, but not surprised, at how many claim not to have received any cyclorific surprises due to a year-round schedule of bike-related consumption that brooks no encouragement from family or friends at Xmas time.
I was amused to see a few commenters listing coffee as a bike-related gift. I mean, to admit of the use of performance-enhancing drugs right here in black and white and red connotes a feeling of safety we never dreamed we’d imbue you with, dear readers.
If you’re like me, you come out of Xmas in a pre-diabetic condition, born of too many cookies, cakes, egg nog, etc., and now you eye the New Year with a grim sort of penance paying wince, knowing you’ll have to drag yourself out the door in the worst weather to work off the excess. Or, perhaps you’ll simply pop in that new Sunday in Hell DVD and hibernate until Spring pushes the first buds and blades of grass up through the soggy earth.
Either way, happy, merry, happy, and ride on!
Welcome to the Christmas Ride here on RKP. As a special gift, we’ll not point out that, rather than logging on here for your Xmas time bike fix, you ought to be paying more attention to your kids/wife/husband/parents/girlfriend/boyfriend/dog/cat/goldfish. We’ll just get on with the business of expressing obscure opinions on obscure topics.
This week’s question:
What bicycle-related items did you find under your tree? And why are they there?