Ah, Christmas is here already. I've been called a Grinch by more than a few people over the years, probably because of my unwillingness to dress like an idiot in a "funny" sweater, or maybe because I'm not amused by the neighbor's display of lights that I assume could be seen from the moon. To me, this time of the year is mostly about being cold while either giving gifts that the other person doesn't actually need or receiving gifts that I don't actually need.
Like a lot of things in life, Christmas can begin to lose its magic as you get older. Discovering that Santa ain't a real dude is sort of like pulling out the finger in the dam that's holding back adult life; once that hole is unplugged, there's no stopping the rising water. Soon you're an adult, AKA drowning in responsibilities, and making Christmas wishlists feels like a lifetime ago. But let's put the brakes on being both an adult and a Grinch for now, and instead go back to those list-making days.While one is never too old to have an RC car or video game on their Christmas wishlist, I'm now far too old to actually wake up to such things under the tree on the morning of the 25th. Instead, I'm supposed to want shit like four-packs of dish towels, v-neck sweaters that I'll never wear, tall white socks, and practical stuff that adults do who-knows-what with. Lame. Don't get me wrong, because anything that I spring for - or put on my wishlist - needs to be practical, but it also needs to be a hell of a lot more interesting than dish towels. Besides, I don't need dish towels because I eat all my food out of cans and just bin them afterward.
Candid photo of me doing Christmas stuff.
I recently parted ways with my 1990 Mitsubishi Delica van, a 4x4 and kinda creepy looking brick on wheels that really suited how I roll. Instead, I've picked up a classic Rover (née Austin) Mini that could fit inside my old Delica and definitely does not suit how I roll. What can I say other than I like to make things difficult for myself... I thought I'd figure out a way to get a hitch installed on the car so I could use a convenient tray-style rack, but it turns out that the underside of the Mini has more in common with an empty pop can than anything you could bolt or weld a hitch onto.
Through the power of suction, I command you to hold my bike!
I've been using a Saris strap-on rack that, to my surprise, has yet to eject itself off the back of my car despite my best efforts, but I'll have to get myself something more confidence inspiring soon. Enter Sea Sucker with their vacuum-mount bike racks - picture giant suction cups combined with a fork-mount and you'll get the idea. I'm going to pick up their Mini Bomber two-bike rack that employs four vacuum mounts on the bottom of a flexible HDPE base, as well the required rear wheel holders. Sure, I'll have to put the front wheels inside the car, and $440 USD feels like a lot of money for some plastic and rubber, but it's a nice and sleek way to carry a few bikes if you don't want a giant roof rack on the top of your vehicle 24/7.
What do you mean I can't put a four-bike hitch rack on my car that's about as useful as a motorbike but much slower?
Us mountain bikers are a proud bunch, aren't we? We see no issue with dropping a load of money on some bolt-on doohicky that won't make much difference, but god forbid we reach out for some coaching to improve our skills or fitness. I have more misplaced pride than anyone, but a few years back I managed to convince myself that a fitness coach would be good to have. While putting out 100-percent effort on every ride, seven days a week for a month straight until I implode and hate myself is a strategy that I'd usually go with, I thought I'd talk to someone who knows a thing or two. Next thing I know, I have training plans mapped out, FTP tests, and these strange things called "rest days." I know, I was surprised to learn what those are, too. Laugh all you want about fitness coaching, but it's helped me become fitter and stronger than I ever thought I could be, which in turn has seen me enjoy mountain biking more than ever after almost twenty-five years of pedaling bikes around in the forest. But the same thing applies to skills coaching as well, probably even more so given the type of riding that many Pinkbike-ians prefer to do. So skip those $120 USD tires, silly $400 jackets, and any other crap that doesn't actually help you, and instead spend that dough on a coach of some sort.
The last of my three wishes (this is a genie in the bottle type of Christmas, by the way) is for the internet to stop working. I know, the irony isn't lost on me, but I just need the matrix to go dark for, like, a week or two at most. A reset of sorts. I love my job and will keep doing it until I get fired sometime in the very near future, but there's just so much stuff going on, be it bikes or current events or politics, that it can feel overwhelming. ''But Mike, why don't you just not go on the line for awhile,'' I picture you saying while rolling your eyes. Voluntarily unplugging is not as easy as it sounds, especially when I'm probably more caught up in the matrix than the average person: work aside, there's new stuff to see, news to keep up on, and cat videos to watch. I. Can't. Stop. But I also wouldn't be sad if it all went away for awhile; would you?
My three wishes aren't that exciting or interesting, but they're all a hell of a lot more useful than new dish towels or a package of tall socks. So, let's say that you stumble upon the Christmas genie in a bottle and find yourself with three wishes to make - what three things would you have on your list?