Wednesday, December 12, 2012


How quickly some things plummet to the murky depths of oblivion. How easily can last year’s shining stars become dead debris floating in space – destined to burn up entering the Earth’s atmosphere (in route to those murky depths of oblivion).

Take for example the bicycle handlebar ashtray and spittoon. Last year, suppliers could not keep these items on the shelves and the mail order houses were months behind in filling back orders. This holiday season, not one of either of these items has been purchased. Okay – sure – a few tandem bike Captains went up in flames when their Stokers’ aim with their cigarette butts wasn't quite up to par. And, yes, there were those petitions started by a handful of elementary school principles complaining about the number of little BMX bikes in their bike racks out front that had the handlebar ashtray accessories installed on them. The American public – especially the American cycling public – can be a fickle lot!

And that fickleness can darn sure make it hard for the loved ones of the American cycling public to figure out what to get them for Christmas! How are they going to know what the hot cycling-specific stocking stuffers are for this year? Well – once again – thank goodness for…

Bertha’s Christmas Gift Guide for the Cyclist in Your Life

Here’s a small sampling of letters received during the last few weeks wherein the loved ones of cycling fanatics, quite similar to the loved ones that you yourself may very well have at your home, write in to get guidance and advice for that perfect cycling-specific gift. (You will probably want to make a copy of this article and leave it laying around, sort of semi-conspicuously, for them to discover.)

Dear Bertha,
My son is a cycling nut. He gets out of bed three hours before sun up, straps his little headlight on his bike, dons his reflective gear, and then heads out for his normal 45-mile ride. Naturally, as his mother, I can’t help but worry about him while he is riding. What is the best thing I can get him for Christmas that shows I love him and support his sport but at the same time shows that I am concerned for his safety.
A Dear Son’s Mom – Sioux Falls, Iowa

Dear Mommy Dearest,
Sometimes a gift is more than a package sitting under a tree waiting to be unwrapped on Christmas morning. Many times a gift is an action or something that you actually do to show your love. I think in your circumstance, something along these lines would be a perfect gift – a gift to make his morning ride safer. And, this can be relatively inexpensive since most of what you will need can be found at your local hardware or home improvement store.

Right after your son goes to bed, take his bike out in the back yard (or other well-ventilated area) and spray paint it with fluorescent / reflective paint. This paint can also be brushed on if you are ecologically concerned about using an aerosol spray paint. I would suggest using two or three different colors to make the bike more visible. After the paint has dried just a bit, place several strips of red and silver reflective tape along all of the frame tubes. You can cut thin strips to stick to the sides of the tires and even wrap around the spokes. This whole procedure can be done in about thirty minutes. There is no need to waste any time masking off any surfaces. Don’t worry about covering up any wording on the frame – such as Colnago or Pinarello or Cervelo. A good rule of thumb: The more haphazard the paint job, the more hazard-free the ride. You might even want to think about doing this same treatment to his helmet and cycling shoes.

Believe me, when your son wakes up in the morning and sees your gift… let’s just say, I’m sure you’ll see faint traces of tears of joy in his eyes!

Dear Bertha,
Let me come right to the point – I’m beginning to not trust your advice. For three years now I have written you and asked about gift-giving ideas for my wife who is a cycling nut. Granted, I made the mistake the first year and bought her a vacuum cleaner but, after several surgeries, I somewhat recovered from that and the doctors reassure me that the few small skull fragments still embedded in parts of my brain will not cause too much long-term damage. Who would have guessed that the carpet cleaning attachment for the vacuum cleaner hose could have been hurled with so much force?

Other gift ideas you’ve suggested included leaving my spouse stuck in a vat of goop for 48 hours while a mold could be made of her riding a bicycle. Oh yes – I can see that idea racking up lots of points for husbands around the world. Thirdly – the handlebar ashtray? I don’t think you even want to know what my thoughts are on that ridiculous suggestion. I even saw where you suggested that some guy buy his wife a garbage disposal for Christmas. How, in heaven’s name, does a garbage disposal even come close to being a cycling related gift?

This year, I have decided that I’m getting my wife the 132-piece Craftsman mechanic tool set and 7-drawer toolbox – regardless of what you have to suggest differently.
Boris Jones – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

My Dear Boris,
Oddly enough, this is exactly what I was going to suggest for you this year. However, you might want to possibly consider making that the pink toolbox.

Dear Bertha,
I had a wonderful idea for a cycling accessory that would make a wonderful gift idea. I was hoping that with your connections and fabulous marketing skills, you could make this available to the masses within the foreseeable future.

I’m sure that I’m not the only woman in the universe whose husband insists on bringing his bicycle to bed with him. Sure this was fine when he was single and living alone, but even with our king-sized bed, it’s really beginning to get on my nerves just a little bit. I am thankful that he finally moved the bike from the middle of the bed but, since he insists that he absolutely must sleep on the right edge of the bed, this leaves me as the one that ends up sleeping next to the bike.

Now, what I’m thinking – and you’re probably already reading my mind here – padded bicycle pajamas. What do you think?
Gladys from Gladysville, Texas

Dear Gladys,
And people questioned my sanity over the handlebar ashtray!

Dear Bertha,
Okay. I’ll go out on a limb and trust you just one last time. Pink it is.

Merry Christmas Everyone - 

Enjoy the Ride!