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A Christmas Letter to My Secret Santa, Distant Relatives and Friends: Please, No More of These

By Martin Atanasov

It’s Christmas time again. Yay! It’s the season of joy, feasts, and those God-awful Christmas songs that haven’t been updated since the 90s. I get it, Wham! Last Christmas, you gave me your heart, and I can’t figure out why you haven’t stopped giving it this year. I don’t want it. And while we are talking about things I don’t want, I’d like to address my Secret Santa formally. Distant relatives and friends, listen closely. You might learn something.

Regardless of whether we believe in a jolly old fat man who has the most unsustainable business plan in history or not, we will all get some presents this year. But, unfortunately, while I was a good boy this past year, chances are I’ll still get some useless cycling-related gifts from people who know me just as little as they care about my cycling needs. I know I’m not alone, so if you are like me, you can inconspicuously share this article with them, and hopefully, they will get the message. Here are seven things you might think are perfect for a Christmas gift for a cyclist but please, for the love of God whose birthday we are celebrating, spare me the uncomfortable moment when I’ll have to simulate joy when receiving a useless thing I won’t even be able to sell afterwards.

1. Bike parts

If you are a cyclist, you’d know how much time a person thinks about upgrades and the meticulous process of finding and choosing the correct component. If you are not, giving a bike part as a gift may seem like a great idea. I can’t stress enough that this is the worst idea to go with. Bike parts are not something you just get. They need to accommodate a specific setup, must be the right size and not to mention, they need to be of high quality. If you are not ready to reach deep into your wallet for such a gift, don’t even start.

Otherwise, if you know I need a new part (and you will since I won’t shut up about it for months), a better gesture would be just to ask me to choose my own part. I promise I’ll act surprised when I find my new pedals under the tree. Or you can just give me cash. Not too Christmas-y, I’ll agree, but my joy will be very holiday oriented. If you still want the gift to be Christmas-themed, a gift card from a local bike store will be awesome.

2. Christmas-themed tool kits

Do you really think I don’t have a tool kit? Why would I need another one? Even in the unlikely event that I don’t have one (and I do), just any old Christmas toolkit won’t do the trick. Most often, those are made of something softer than butter and in the best-case scenario, they will simply not work. In the worst-case scenario, they will be just slightly smaller than what I need and will round all my bicycle’s bolts. Moreover, a star-shaped multitool might look cool to you and very Christmasy but it’s impractical, hard to fit anywhere and is all-around a bad idea. On the other hand, quality multitools cost some serious cash, and if you are looking for a secret Santa gift with a 20 Euro cap, you won’t find something useful.

No more multitools for me, thanks. © Profimedia

3. Protection gear

Protective gear is something that’s almost borderline acceptable. Still, you can’t buy just any old gear. It’s imperative that the protective gear is of high quality, and you will hardly find anything useful for fewer than 100 euros. Even if you are ready to spend this much, you still need to know the size and what it will be used for, and the vendor must agree to change the size if it doesn’t fit. For example, if you want to gift a pair of knee guards (wink wink), you need to know what the recipient will do with them. If it’s downhill, then you should go with the static hard ones. If it’s for Enduro, the softer ones are a must. Moreover, you need to know the upper and lower thigh circumferences, which are not easy to obtain, especially from a co-worker.

4. Anything made out of old bike parts

You might think it’s cool but I promise you, it is not. An old chain or a broken frame is and always will be an old chain and a broken frame. It’s not art, it’s not recycling, and it’s not thoughtful. Countless so-called art pieces are using broken bike parts, which the vendors would swear I would enjoy. I will not. I can barely find a place to store my actual bike, and even if I had some extra space, I’d rather buy a second bike than have a sculpture of some wheels, chains, lights, and God knows what this thing hanging there used to be. So restrain from wasting money on this so-called art. A broken chain will always be a problem, no matter in what form it’s presented.

5. “Useful” gadgets

That’s the other big hit among people who have absolutely no idea what to buy for their cyclist friends or co-workers for Christmas. So just get these excellent gloves with blinkers or a cup holder for the handlebar, right? Wrong. I don’t starve myself to lose 5 kilos each spring so I can put on a pointless accessory and add extra weight to my bike. Moreover, can you imagine if I go down a 65-70% gradient across roots and rocks with a hot cup of tea placed on my stylish new handlebar cup holder? Yeah, I’d much rather let the sun burn me instead.

So, please, don’t worry about my equipment. I have everything I need, and anything extra is one more thing I will have to store somewhere, never to be used.

6. Christmas-themed cycling jersey

When exactly do you imagine I would wear this? You do know that in Europe, Christmas is usually in a month not particularly famous for its warm and sunny weather. So, while I do go for an occasional ride regardless of the weather, a Christmas-themed jersey won’t be my go-to choice. Or perhaps you imagine I’d go to the Christmas party with it? Nah. If you insist on the jersey, which is not the best idea on its own, at least try to avoid holiday themes.

7. Cycling-themed useless gadgets

Finally, we have the bane of any avid cyclist – cycling-themed gadgets for everyday use. Oh, a bicycle-shaped pizza cutter. Yes, you were the first one who ever thought of that. Let me just put it with the other 9. What about this bike stand/floor lamp? Ah, yes. I always dreamed of changing the entire home interior because of a gift. Thank you. Oh, and this bicycle-shaped bottle opener. Well, it will twist after the first use but at least next year, when I get another one, I’ll still have use for it.
Don’t. Just don’t.

What to get

You know I have other interests besides cycling, right? So, if you are getting me a gift, you might as well learn a bit more about me. Find out my other hobbies, personality, and passions. I can’t believe I’m saying this but not everything revolves around bikes. Still, if you insist this is way too much work, some cycling socks are hard to mess up and always welcome, so go for it. Or, if you really want to make me happy, a simple gift card would make for one truly magical Christmas. This way, I will be able to buy whatever I want, and you will feel better about making me happy. It’s a win-win.