Monday, 6 December 2010

A bike is for 'life' not just Christmas

I found myself Christmas shopping with the kids last week. Hideous experience!!

My "early christmas present" in the snow
The shopping centre was full of stressed people walking the wrong way,  trying to think what their loved ones might want for that special gift. A perfect present that would hopefully make the recipient happy.

I  was struck by the number perplexed, huffing men and exhausted, brow knitted ladies with their screaming toddlers, all carrying vast numbers of over laden bags (and their screaming toddlers!).

I found myself wondering, at the risk of being a little 'bah humbug', what's the point? They might be looking for a present to make their loved ones happy, but how many of those gifts would prove to be short lived, impulse purchases- soon to be forgotten after the initial excitement and pleasure of Christmas, and eventually ending up most probably as land fill.

I don't know about you but shopping doesn't really make me 'long term' happy. I like occasional shopping, but I find that most new things have a relatively short shelf life before I forget the happiness they gave me at the outset. I read somewhere that buying things gives five periods of pleasure:

researching what to buy
buying it
receiving it/initial use
re using it
talking it through with your friends.

Most purchases give pleasure at the receiving/ initial use stage and some even give pleasure for the first few outings- new shoes or a new car? But these items soon become part of your everyday world and you just expect to use them.

Some purchases give pleasure during the research and the first few times you talk it over with your mates, for example a holiday.

For me there is only one thing I can think of that gives pleasure in all 5 phases- from researching through buying, using and talking to mates- and that is a bicycle!

Without a doubt, it is brilliant to be able to plan the purchase of a new bike. So many delicious frames and components to think about and buy. The first ride makes you grin as you find that the hours of taking advice have been worthwhile. It doesn't matter how many times you ride your bike, your pleasure ratings stay high for every ride. Not only that but when you chat to your mates about the ride you get even happier!   Lots of manufacturers guarantee excellent workmanship, but how many can claim to guarantee happiness?

My new bike arrived last week after months of researching. It arrived in the post and I had to negotiate pretty ferociously with the kids to let me know where they had hidden it, as we have a strict "no new things after the first of November rule" in this house!

After I rode on the Cotic KP 24 at the world championships I guess it is hardly surprising that I ended up choosing another Cotic - But which one, and more importantly which colour ;-) ?.... Kelvins suggestion that "because I am a girl" I should get one in every colour, was amusing but not that helpful!

Building up my new bike in the chaos of the dining room.

At last! My first ride on my new bike. There is nothing quite like riding a brand new bike for the first time. I wanted to look at it as I was going along, admiring the fantastic colour and form. (Looking down and examining every aspect of a new frame on the go is not to be recommended- pride comes before a fall 'n all that!).

At one point we had to cross a stream. Not wanting to get my new bike dirty or wet I stopped, lifted it up and walked through the water. Guffaws of laughter from my riding buddies and I realised what I had done. Yes, this was a cherished new item, but the Soul was designed to be all season, all weather, all conditions - even in the snow!

Our bit of Surrey had more snow than Wales last week, and while every one went out sledging or snow balling I went out on my bike. I stopped to chat to an 'Urban skiier' who thought it odd that I should want to plough through the snow on a bike. ("which is surely made for summer not snow?"). I chuckle to myself at the irony.  I am not sure it looks totally 'normal' cross country skiing, dressed in C and A ski kit along the high street in suburban Surrey either.

Snowy trails

What does it matter, we are all having fun in the snow! But I have a slightly smug feeling inside as I cycle past the 'grown up' kids trying to go faster than their 'real' kids on the snowy hillside.

I know that when the snow melts and they put their skis, sledges and ski kit in the loft,  I am still going to be riding this bike. I will be zipping along my trails with adrenaline pumping out of my ears and a wide grin on my face.

My Soul- both mine and my Cotic "flying"

So go on, put a new bike on your wish list - a bike is for "life", not just for Christmas ;-)


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