Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Four Christmases and Four Bikes

As I see it, at the heart of the movie Four Christmases, Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon weren’t evil to want to do their own thang instead of dealing, uh, I mean spending loving time with family over the holidays. See below for the Four Christmases holiday survival guide. One year I brought both the mountain bike, the road bike and, what the “f” was I thinking, a trainer…for both of us. Add luggage for a 4-5 day trip and a bunch of wrapped gifts and I start to think about telling relatives that I’m spending the holiday inoculating babies in Namibia. Since then, I’ve narrowed it to just a cross bike. This year I might just plan on a snowy hike or trail run. Then again, how much is that flight to Tahiti?

The real issue is eeking in the ride or run while running between her Dad’s on the west side, my Mom’s on the north side, her Aunt’s out in the boonies, our friends on the south side and my brothers back on the west side again. It’s $2226.80pp round trip to Tahiti on Delta. This of course all gets complicated with sharing the shower with your step Dad’s kids, running last minute gift errands, finding time to wrap presents without anyone catching a glimpse early and picking up muffins at the bakery for your mom. Hmm Cancun is only $535.80pp nonstop. This year is the 8th time I go home for my Four Christmases and I’ve learned a few tricks on how to get in some outdoor fun amidst a full house of relatively unfit relatives:

1 Don’t make plans for the morning; even brunch is cutting it too close. This is your time to get up and get out the door before anyone creeps downstairs and throws you a curveball like Mom asking you to go pick up creepy Uncle Harold who lives out in the sticks and see’s his golden years as his opportunity to fill your car with farts. If you do run into mom prepping food in the kitchen at 6:30am, you’re not totally screwed. Just get dressed for your run or ride before you walk into the kitchen, chat over a quick breakfast and then make a break for it.

2 Think of where all your relatives and friends live in relation to the best places in town to ride and pick the best one to stay at for the holiday. You’ll make brownie points for visiting. My mom’s is perfect: a few blocks from the bike trail and close to some bushwackable neighborhood trails.

3 KISS Keep It Short Silly. Bang out a quick hour, especially if you’re headed someplace cold. When you add up the time getting dressed and undressed you’re looking at least an hour and a half anyway. Plan it right and the last of your in-laws will be tweezing the last of their monobrow in the bathroom when you roll in the door.

4 Don’t bring a trainer. This is your chance to have fun in your old haunts. If it’s really too cold to ride, go for a run, walk or hike. Besides, do you really want creepy Uncle Harold to see you in your bike shorts or your in-laws to think your wife couldn’t have picked a bigger doof to marry.

5 Bring the cyclocross or mountain bike. Unless you’re traveling to So Cal, Phoenix, or Florida, it’s pretty dang chilly out on the roads. Secondly, bring the cheapest one you own. Your relatives won’t cry when they accidently knock it over getting a Miller High Life out of the garage refrigerator, but you might. If you don’t have trails near where you’re staying, ride the knobbies on the road or go rip up a neighborhood park.

6 Check the map for good places to ride before you get to your destination or on you’re way back. Play it right and it’s almost like going on a cycling vacation and just running into your relatives…almost.

7 Check the web for local club rides. Every city has a local club ride during the week, even in winter. Tell your mom you’re staying through Sunday because you love her so much, and then go rip it up with the locals.

8 Make sure you have your own key for wherever you’re staying or at least the code for the automatic garage door. Again, make sure you have your own key for wherever you’re staying or at least the code for the automatic garage door. As much as the holidays may pain you, you still want to make it to Grammy’s on time to unwrap those new mukluks.

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