Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Christmas Post

Every year I have to spend an inordinately lengthy amount of time on Christmas cards. Being the eldest of five siblings, and having a mother who herself was one of five means there is a more-than-healthy crop of relatives to send to, alongside all my friends. I am a slow writer which probably doesn't help matters, but it's always a good couple of evenings worth of work to get the task done.
So, quite why I insist on then hand-delivering cards to my local friends remains something of a quandary.
It was something that my Dad did, I guess. My parents would send and receive literally hundreds of cards every year, so from a postal cost perspective it probably made sense to drive round town and hand deliver cards to local friends. Once I was old enough of course, I used to get sent out on my bicycle to do the necessary.
And it's something that has continued to this day. I cannot bring myself to spend money on posting cards to people that live within a mile or two, so every year there is my now-traditional Christmas postal ride that takes place. It used to be a bit of a drag, but as the family has grown and my responsibilities with it, any excuse to spend time in the saddle is a welcome one.
I usually spread the cards out on the kitchen table and look at who and where I have to visit, planning a logical route. Favourite sections of road are of course factored-in, and it can usually be strung out long enough to make it a fun local blast. It certainly helped when Nik moved a few miles up the road to Harpenden!
When it comes to delivery time, the season dictates that I am layered-up in all my winter finery. The necessity of breathing dictates that some facial flesh is left uncovered, though everything else is a mass of base-layer, merino, thick lycra and neoprene. "Bring out the Gimp"!
For the last few years I've run this errand on my road bike, mudguards keeping me dry, high-powered lights and scotchlite keeping me visible.
A couple of years back December was especially cold, and many side roads had an inch or two of ice upon them. After delivering John's card I ended up in a stand-off with a daft woman driving a large Mitsubishi 4x4. Most of the local highways had been well salted and were relatively clear, but here there was just a pair of ruts up the middle of the road where tarmac was exposed, the rest being solid ice and compacted snow.
We came face to face, me occupying one rut, her straddling both. I tried to gesture and explain that if I ventured off said tarmac I would stand no chance of staying upright on my 700x23c's with 100psi of air inside them. She however, wasn't interested in any such discussion. The windows stayed up, she put her full beam lights on and sounded her horn continuously until I gave up and dismounted. The irony of the fact that she was driving a vehicle perfectly equipped to deal with such road conditions (at low speeds anyway) seemed not to matter. I slipped and fell hard onto my lycra-clad backside as she gunned her V8 engine and slowly rolled away...
This year I think it's going to be a fat-tyred exercise. Nothing against my road bike but I've got a brand new pair of 2.3" knobblies on the mountain bike and I want to know how they're going to perform in the gloop. And there's plenty of that out there right now.
I'll just need to wrap the cards up to prevent them looking like they've been dragged through a hedge backwards en route.


  1. Finally the weather cleared enough yesterday to allow me to get out:

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. You could do with a GoPro to create a few edits for some of these stories. I have have a Contour or two you could have actually...

    1. Would definitely be up for giving that a go. Am a little out of touch on the video editing front, but am sure I can pick it up quick enough. Anthill Films crew, step aside...

    2. Would definitely be up for giving that a go. Am a little out of touch on the video editing front, but am sure I can pick it up quick enough. Anthill Films crew, step aside...