Ninety percent of holidays are cooked up for the express purpose of accommodating the sale and purchase of commercial goods—the selling of crap
, in other words: Said crap may be in the form of confections, jewelry, or sexy French maid costumes. Oddly, there don’t seem to be any sexy French butler outfits…or maybe that’s not odd at all, now that I’ve envisioned it. Sweaters emblazoned with reindeer also play prominently in the scheme of things.
There was a point in time, however, when these holidays had a greater purpose. A time, for instance, when communities singled out the most attractive member from their midst and dragged the unfortunate soul naked, through the fields behind a white horse in order to ensure a bountiful spring crop. Or a time when everyone danced around a giant symbol of a phallus in celebration each Spring. Seriously, what did you think the May Pole was supposed to represent?
Nowadays, however, we shop. Halloween, Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas…it’s hard to think of a holiday that doesn’t involve buying something. Consider today—Black Friday. The name is ominous as hell—as if it were a special day when everyone in your town catches bubonic plague and staggers through the streets, glassy-eyed and festering with sores. Not too far off the mark, really, if you’ve ever seen people camped out in droves in front of shopping malls or shanking one another at Wal-Mart as they battle over the last PlayStation 4.
Maybe it’s just the 90-year-old Amish farmer in me, but this annual shopping orgy saddens me a bit, particularly since (in America, at least) it comes directly on the heels of a day dedicated to giving thanks for what we already have. One night you look across the dinner table and remind yourself that if you have a dinner table, a family, friends and something to eat, you are a lucky bastard. The very next morning, you find yourself hammer-fisting the nose of an assailant at the toy store as he tries to wrestle the last inflatable Frosty the Snowman from your grasp. Theoretically, said Frosty the Snowman is somehow connected (as a symbol) to a guy born in the Middle East a couple thousand years ago who wasn’t exactly down with owning a bunch of crap and/or punching his neighbor. Again, the finer points of these holiday rituals get lost in translation over the years.
And so here I am, looking at Pinkbike, scrolling through the Black Friday deals. I’m not going to tell you that there’s anything wrong with scoring a great deal on a XT 11-speed chain or a fork or what have you. If you can spend 5 minutes online and save some money, go for it. But I do hope, that you don’t
spend the entire day shopping.
If you are lucky enough to have this day off, get outdoors. Go for a ride, feel that burn in your lungs and legs as you crest some impossible climb, check out the view from the top—the view from the top that most people will never see as they run around miles below you, battling over discount screwdrivers, bonus-packs of scented soaps and the 8-movie, Blu-ray Collector’s Edition of the Fast and Furious
franchise. Listen to the sounds of the forest around you. This is what actually matters—the ride—the actual process of pedaling here.
All the shiny bullshit that we bolt onto our bikes the other 364 days of the year? That stuff has no greater worth than the experience of riding your bike. It’s easy to confuse the two sometimes. Easy to get lulled into thinking that your bike isn’t good enough already. Easy to think that a new fork or wheelset will make you a better rider. They won’t. Not really. Riding will make you a better rider. Riding will make you stronger. Riding will make you happier. Spending your day shopping or worshipping at the altar of New-And-Improved? That shit just makes your wallet lighter.
It’s Black Friday. The best thing you could do today is drop everything and get out on your bike.
I hope you do.