The Gift of a Bicycle



I was in a local bike shop last week. The owner is a ‘half-empty’ man - grouchy, long in the tooth and stubbornly resistant to the ethereal effects of good news. But he was beaming. People are giving bicycles for presents. Business is good,’ he said.

By Rob Penn

Wednesday 21st February 2018

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Music to my ears. As a lifelong cyclist, I take delight in the thought of people giving and receiving bicycles as presents. I can remember being given a Raleigh Hustler for Christmas nearly forty years ago. It was purple and pimped up with white handlebar tape, a white saddle, a white water bottle, white cable guides and white tyres – it was the 70s. I rode it furiously. I felt I had wings. ‘Ever bike?’ Jack London wrote, ‘Now that's something that makes life worth living!… Oh, to just grip your handlebars and lay down to it, and go ripping and tearing through streets and road, over railroad tracks and bridges, threading crowds… and wondering all the time when you're going to smash up. Well, now, that's something!’ That’s how I felt on my Raleigh Hustler.

When you give a bicycle, you’re blessing the recipient with good health, independence, a sniff of freedom, equilibrium, sensory pleasure, a new way of seeing the world. Okay, I’m getting carried away now. The point is you’re bestowing on someone gifts that a piece of technology cannot come close to providing.

It doesn’t have to be an actual bicycle, of course. Any piece of cycling kit – a pair of good winter gloves, a fancy shirt for climbing cols come the summer, a pair of waterproof panniers, a set of lights or a track pump – conveys the same positive message: go for a ride, go now! (Ed - And go for a ride abroad! ;-) )

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