By Sal Ruibal
By now you've probably blown your December paycheck buying Christmas presents for bike mechanics and extra-friendly bartenders. No harm in that, it’s good to let people know that you care, especially if they're the folks looking for hairline cracks in your bike frame or looking out for you by driving you home after too-many-too-manys.
These are some gifts that won't cost you a dime, just some time. And these hectic days, time is precious.
So here are some gifts you can give that will make a difference in someone's life:
Listen. We all know people who have a hard time with the holidays. Maybe they're divorced or about to be. That happens a lot this time of year. Invite them on a mellow bike ride through the woods or along a river. Don't force the issue, but just wait for them to open up. There's something about riding in nature, especially in a light snow shower, that lets us drop our pretenses and opens our eyes to how wonderful it is to ride our bikes with good friends.
Kids. There are a lot of single moms out there who work a lot and then come home to make dinner, do laundry, check the homework and then fall asleep on the couch. This requires some finesse because people are touchy about other people taking an interest in their kids. If you go to church or something like a church, ask around and see if there are other bike riders there who would like to help out on a Christmas Carol Ride, even if it's just around a parking lot. Maybe the moms can take part or just get a few hours of "me time."
Trails: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're always getting emails and stuff about IMBA and Bikes Belong, but that's because bike advocacy groups don't live on air and tap water. You ride trails? Some volunteer built them. Might as well be you.
Yourself: Be nice to yourself. It's a dog-eat-cat world and sometimes we get bitten both ways. You can't please everyone so at least please yourself. Trade post-ride massages with your significant other. It's a free gift that keeps on giving.
Hope to see you in 2014. Peace.