The Biking Lifeby: Naomi Bloom 12/1/2006
RepriseLast year we had "The Tour, Baby!" This year we get "Cobbles, Baby!" So I guess it's as good a time as any to reprise one of my favorite columns, Santa, Baby! To think that I was so far ahead of my time four years ago!
Uh-oh! It's happening again. Eartha Kitt's voice is ramblin' all 'round my brain already. I do apologize if the same thing's happening to you. But I'm going to indulge anyway:
Santa baby, I've been an awfully good girl, you see.
Please take some time to consider me
And give some gifts that will delight
Those of us who take the time to bike
Instead of drive or hit the gym.
Please don't make our holidays grim,
Santa sweetie, hurry down the chimney tonight!
For starters, Santa baby, could you arrange for some gifts for those who may not even ask for them? I'm talking about the "powers that be," the ones who set city, county and state policy for transportation, roads and the like. They say you can't fight City Hall, but maybe you, sweet Santa, could win them over with a nicely wrapped gift.
So could you grant CalTrans and its local equivalents (e.g., Santa Clara County Department of Roads and Highways) the wherewithal to pave all our roads smoothly and efficiently? Nice smooth paving materials, the equipment to lay it all down evenly, and workers with the brains to do it right.
On the other hand, if you think they've been bad little boys and girls, how about leaving a load of gravel and oil (what I like to call "cheap seal") in their stockings? Then make them ride their nice shiny new bicycles up and down the hills they cover with that stuff. (Ooh, shoulda used Preparation H!)
Forgive me, Santa, for once again I digress (much like I did back in 2002).
Speaking of brains, Santa dear, could you grant everyone who uses the public roads and byways around here a cerebral upgrade? I'm talking about motorists, cyclists, bladers and pedestrians alike.
You won't need to distribute vastly remarkable intelligence to any of us. (Some of us are already rocket scientists.) All I'm asking for is enough common sense to be alert and aware of others around us, to be courteous and to look out for one another. Is that too much to ask? (Please, don't answer.)
To help my wish along, Santa, could you please lend your support to some of the organizations that work so tirelessly for our rights and safety? Here's just a partial list:
League of American Bicyclists
California Bicycle Coalition
Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
Marin County Bicycle Coalition
Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition
You may have some faves of your own, Santa darlin' so feel free to give them a boost too.
I hope, sweet Santa, that you won't mind if we ordinary cycling folks take on your role to help these groups. For instance, we could give our cycling friends and relatives gift memberships to one or more of these fine organizations. That could really help spread the word about the hard work they put in to help us all when we hit the road.
To get you started, Santa, here's a gift membership deal that you (and the rest of us) will find hard to resist. Right now you can pick up gift memberships in the Adventure Cycling Association at 50% off the regular cost. What bike (or even armchair tourist, for that matter) could resist?
Okay, Santa, now I'd like to put in a good word for some of my personal friends:
For Jane: A smooth transition from the East Coast to sunny(?) California, where she can ride through the winter. (She should be here by holiday time, Santa, so please don't lose track of her.)
For Tim: Time to ride -- and do lots of other things -- with Jane during and after her smooth transition.
For Tony, Jean, Ruth, Stan, Karen, Ray and everyone else we'd like to join us on our tour in southern France next year: Membership in Bicycle Adventure Club so they can sign up right away.
For Rick: A rapid recovery from that truck that ran the stop sign. Let's get him back to long-distance touring in 2007.
For Henry: An even more rapid recovery from all those surgeries. Please give him back the strength to climb those Billy Goats he loves.
For Marie Claire: Beaucoup jours de soleils pendant les vacances pour visiter nouvelles destinations a velo!
For Jim: Anything but yet another bike in the garage -- pleeeeease?!?
For Tom: The time to actually start riding a bike again while still keeping BikeCal.com afloat.
For all the Western Wheelers ride leaders who planned and led at least five such rides: Some tangible (as opposed to "virtual") rewards, including those promised socks. (Consult with statistician Judy D. for this particular list of good boys and girls, Santa.)
And finally, for myself? Really? Oh Santa, you shouldn't have!
For ideas, I first turned to Scott Martin, who recently published a wish list for his birthday: "an EPO gift basket, an 11-pound bike and the legs of a 24-year-old Cat 1." But to be honest, none of that would ever appeal to me. Still, like Scott, I'm beginning (no, make that continuing) to feel the effects of advancing age on my riding ability. So Santa, may I ask for some special favors this holiday season?
Let's start with a new back, one without herniated discs and sciatic nerve pain, but with enough strength to jump on the saddle on the first try. And could you grant me an energy output high enough to eat as much as I want without gaining weight, just like I did 10 years ago?
How about some new warm cycling clothes for cold days and cool clothes for warm days? Along with the wisdom to make the right choices at 8:00 am. And to look good all day, of course.
Scott says he wants to watch the Tour de France in person. Me, I'd rather just ride my bike in France, (without the TdF crowds and traffic). That's why Jim and I love to lead tours there -- in any month but July.
I really do want roads right out my garage door that are as good as the ones I've ridden in France. And guess what, Santa? Some of my local roads are actually getting new pavement, not cheap seal. Keep those repaves like Pierce Road and Stelling Road coming, Santa baby!
What's that, Santa? A new bike? Hey, I love my Merlin Titanium. But those Women Specific Designs sure are tempting. So surprise me.
Scott did mention that his most ambitious birthday goal is to "[k]eep riding till the bitter end. There is no higher goal." Santa, I couldn't agree more. Having your influence on making that happen would be awesome!
Santa baby, let me close with the same lines as in 2002:
Think of all the fun I've missed
Think of all the rides on my to-do list
Next year, Santa, I'll be even better
If you just answer this holiday letter!
Still faithful after all these years,
Naomi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org