27 December 2006

Merry Christmas

Another year done, and another one on the way. It’s about that time of year to sit back and have a look at the year gone by, contemplating on what you have achieved, mastered or won. Or you can forget about the year you have just had, hoping that the new year coming, will be a lot better. I have yet to think which one of these I will be thinking of in the next few days, but I will let you know. Most of the days spare time this time of year, is taken up with a very busy workload, complaining customers, unrepairable wrecks, many friends, lots of Christmas cheer and the endless parties, not to mention the hung-over rides, sunburn, overeating and lack of sleep. Roll on summer, may it be long and hot.

Sorry for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, as you will soon be getting some snow (some of you will already have it), and of course some cold and wet weather. Don’t think that we have a tropical paradise here in Auckland at the moment, we are still waiting for summer to turn up. It is probably the most changeable weather patterns I have seen for many Decembers. One day we have clear skies, hot temperatures and no wind. The next day the wind is blowing, straight from Antarctica, bringing a high of 10’c, rain and heavy winds. Memories from years gone by of finishing the school year in the blazing heat, Christmas day sweltering in the heat, with only cold beer to cool you down, will soon be only memories. With reports of some of the warmest temperatures being recorded in the Northern Hemisphere for this time of year, Global warming is the hot subject at the summer barbeques, not the burning of the steak. Global warming is not really the issue, but a global shifting of the seasons, everything just seems to have shifted a month or so further down the track. Our summer will turn up eventually, somewhat late in the middle of January, but it will hang around for a month or two longer I hope.

A great myth exposed, Santa rides a bike not a sled.

Back in the bike shop things are busy as usual, this time of year is always the busiest. With every kid wanting a new bike, and lots of smaller kids getting their first bike, things have been a bit out of control. With Santa’s Elves picking up bikes for many small and big kids, the workshop has been working itself into a frenzy. With staff numbers reaching close to 20 at times, sometimes everyone has a number of customers waiting to get served. With all the bikes being sold, I wonder where they might end up, or who might end up upon them. I still get a kick out of getting that kid on a his first bike, maybe he or she might be a future Olympic champion, or the next Tour de France winner, who knows. But they got to start on something, thank god it’s a bike, and not a swimming pool or a pair of rugby boots. A few big kids will be unwrapping some amazing bikes this year as well, hopefully it will be as exciting as when they were unwrapping their first bike. Do you still remember your first bike?

I can’t remember what year Christmas it was (or I am still in denial), but waking at some ungodly hour as usual, I staked out the tree to see what Santa had left for us that year. Coming from a large family, there was always a mound of presents to set your eyes on each year, even though there was only one or two for me, Santa sometimes got it right, with a winner every now and again. I had spent the first couple of years on hand me down bikes, trikes with two wheels, franken-bikes made from many various other bikes thrown together. Most of the time they were part of a family pool, which meant you had to fight to ride what you wanted on a daily basis. With no ownership, they were in various states of disrepair, often unsafe, and ready to throw you off at that inopportune moment. Life was tough at the bottom, and it taught you to be tough on and off the bike.

The native Pohutakawa tree always flowers at Christmas time, our naturally decorated tree, what a sight.

Trying to stay good near the end of the year always got to me. Everyone knew that Santa knows the good and the bad boys when he was making his rounds every year. I unfortunately, banked on the idea that he could not keep his eye on millions of kids throughout the world, so it was a gamble every year whether he would find out how naughty I was. Maybe someone should have told me that my parents were paid spy’s, sending notes to Santa and his workers about my behaviour and bad attitude regularly. My presents certainly were stark and insignificant compared to my other, well behaved siblings. It was all about to change. I should have looked further a field, than directly under the tree that year. I totally overlooked the biggest present of my first decade, staring at me from behind a curtain, no less than 1m away from my extensive search only hours earlier. I was starting to worry as the pile of presents was starting to dwindle, my paltry offering of a pair of socks and two pairs of underwear was starting to resemble my previous years hoard. But the information must not have found it’s way to Santa this year, as the curtain was pulled back revealing a brand new shiny red bike. And what a sight it was, did I say shiny, with the light glistening on the bright red frame, I thought it was Christmas again (opps it already was). My younger brother (by two years) had a bike in a size smaller than mine, which was always funny, as he had been the same size as me for my whole life. I never let him forget it either, as I whizzed past him on a regular basis (big wheels roll faster than small ones).

My bike I brought for Christmas this year, let the tradition continue.

I think I was about three or four at the time, but that memory has not been forgotten till this day, whereas many others around that period and years after have been. It was the start of a lifelong addiction with bikes, and it still has not stopped to this day. So with that, remember when you are looking for that gift for that little person, a bike will always be remembered years later when they may have long forgotten about you.

And another shot just in case you didn't get a good look at it, a brand new Raleigh 29" Singlespeed, with some nice bars and some great brakes, mmm shiney...

Merry Christmas, and of course a great New Year.

Got some photo links to sort out, see if it can happen soon.

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