TCI New Year

I owe you this. Last Friday I was up a snowy mountain trail looking for the better parts of my soul and letting the sweat evaporate from the top of my sweaty head, the evil drifting off in steamy gouts. I didn’t really want to reach the top. The climb was pure catharsis.

But I thought of you. It was Friday, and Friday is your day, the day I ask you what you think about what I don’t really know what to think about. So I owe you this one.

There is so much excess in the holidays, buying gifts for people who don’t need a thing, cramming calories into a face that knows better, the endless repetition of ear worm carols.

As a cyclist, THE cyclist, to much of my family and many of my friends, I invariably receive cycling-themed gifts. This year there was a nice journal from my mother with a peloton illustration on its cover. As these things go, coffee mugs, pint glasses, whimsical prints, funny socks, it was not too bad.

Of course, it would be churlish of me to issue these veiled complaints without acknowledging the best Christmas morning of my life, 1980, when I woke to a brand new BMX parked in front of our bristly, artificial tree. I’ve revisited that morning so many time in my head that I’m sure at this stage it’s an apocryphal story I’m telling myself. Doesn’t matter. We’re all constructions of self-made myths at this point anyway.

I thought about that a lot while I was up in the mountains, how I have the ability to divorce myself from my past, not necessarily to put down any particularly heavy baggage, but only to free myself to do and think and find new things. Life isn’t a plot to be discovered. It’s a story to be written.


Sorry, I’m skewing heavy, when the day and the season demand something lighter.

I have received a lot of cycling gifts through the years. Some of them were really life changing. Others were dumb. And that’s ok, as long as I keep pedaling. I drink a lot of coffee. A mug is always a good choice. Journals, I can fill. I am the bike guy. I can own that.

This week’s TCI New Year asks, what is the best/worst cycling gift you’ve ever received? Or, for a bonus, what the best/worst you’ve given. Interpret these questions however you like. It’s 2021, a year out of science fiction, anyway.

Join the conversation
  1. khal spencer says

    The best cycling gift I ever got was the gift of cycling. It has gotten me through some of the worst times of my life as well as making the best times even better. In terms of physical gifts, it was that Sears “Tank Style Midweight” (for the gas tank looking contraption running along the top tubes that held batteries and a headlight) bicycle that my stepdad and mom got me in fifth grade. Suddenly, Alden, NY wasn’t so huge any more and that created a lifetime of bicycling. Well, except for those few years in the late teens/early twenties when if it didn’t have a high horsepower gasoline engine in it it wasn’t worth having…

    1. TominAlbany says

      Hi, Khal. In the category of ‘It’s a small world after all…’
      I know right where Alden, NY is. One of my roommates at Canisius College grew up on Exchange St not too far from the RR crossing. I’d visited him several times back in the mid-to-late 80s. He remains a good friend to this day. He’d been Alden H.S. class of ’82.

      Anyway. Fun to see that town name pop up here on TCI!

  2. TominAlbany says

    It’s weird. I don’t think I’ve gotten a ‘worst’ gift. I’ve gotten many things I’ve never used, of course. But the givers were well-intentioned if somewhat naive. I’m also no help for advising on what to buy for me.

    The best gift was similar to yours. It was my first two-wheeler. Brown paint. Bright yellow banana seat. 5-speed shifter on the top tube. Great bike for me and then for whoever stole it out of my back yard that first summer. 🙁
    The next best? When I turned 50, my wife threw a small party and, in lieu of gifts, asked people to throw a few bucks into the ‘new bike fund.’ The take was around $600! It took a couple of years but, I ended up buying a used CX bike for around $600. I’ve used ‘Blue’ (It’s a Blue Racing Norcross) for some off-roading (previous rider had 40s on it) and I did a CX ITT this summer in a nod for COVID racing.

  3. Jeff vdD says

    Our family does a stocking exchange. That’s generally when I get a cycling gift (small, of course). Betsy, my partner, is by family convention the only person with whom I exchange gifts, and she knows way better than to give me any cycling gift that I haven’t identified by part number.

    – The wrong brand of lube. Srsly!?

    – Dress socks with bicycles on them
    – Chemical hand/toe warmers
    – Gu Roctane
    – A bottle of Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir (cycling-themed beer/wine being the one area Betsy knows she can improvise)

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