Christmas is almost upon us. I know this because my online world has become completely filled with a series of clever phishing attacks attempting to deprive me of cash in return for gifts for the cyclist. Fridays are the worst, marketeers are convinced that I sit up and listen to emails that drop into my mailbox at 4pm in the afternoon. When are the bloody idiots going to realise that every other marketeer in the world follows the same strategy and I’ve only got limited bandwidth available to digest the seventeen million cycling shoes deals I receive. The last three Fridays have seen a bend sinister in their strategies as they invoke Xmas in unison, therefore completely undifferentiating themselves from each other.
Marketing departments really do need to take the occasional step away from the latte and consider the fact that whilst their “calls to action” may seem so compelling on the whiteboard, the vast majority of us have heard them all before and the only thing we ever react positively to is the price which needs to be about 80% less than RRP. In fact I wish they would get together in a kind of marketing UN meeting and agree to unilateral disarmament across a number of phrases, for example:-
“Special offer”, it’s not special is it? It’s basically your attempt to shift something by making slightly less profit on it than the horrific margin represented by RRP. Can this please be changed to “Not quite such a fleecing”
“Value pack”, as opposed to what? “Not value pack” ? This phrase never ceases to conjure up the image that I’ve been getting a poor deal for buying so few of something hence ought to up my intake in order to cut my losses.
“Huge sale”, needs rewording as “we’ve reduced the price of all the stuff that you don’t want, to try and make you want it”.
“Festive deals”, or in fact any kind of deal. In my mind a deal is the end of a negotiation of a sale involving something small, expensive, ingestible and wrapped in cling film. Buying something for fixed price is not a deal it’s a shopping transaction.
So, getting back to Christmas., I’ve been offered all sorts of cycling deals, sales, offers and endless bloody lists of things that I can add to my annual wish list. These range from festive arm warmers to yuletide arse cream (I have spotted an opportunity for mixing pine needles in for that “Christmas” feel). The marketeers fail to realise that as a committed cyclist I have all of this stuff, twice. In fact I have cupboards full of it the volume of which exactly matches my disposable income. I don’t need marketeers to “generate the need” for arm warmers the British climate does that for me in spades. Billboards advertising bright rear lights are not required, close passing lorries are slogan enough. And as for brand awareness, that is completely wasted on me. I’ve bought and broken just about everything, for me brand awareness simply equates to longevity in the hands of Dave. I’ve got a clear list of the companies who supply stuff that I can’t bust and the rest of them fall into the category of those that I can.
But I know that they are cleverer than that, these messages are not really aimed at me they’re destined for my partner. Some of them even have that dreaded phrase which also needs to be scrubbed at the UN meeting “for the cyclist in your life”.
I’m well aware that on Christmas day many cyclists across the land will calmly open the neatly wrapped toolkit and refrain from uttering “but I’ve got three of these already, and this one’s made of steel it weighs a ton”. They’ll be gracious in acceptance as they hand over the last minute box of garage chocolates and I know exactly the thing that they will really wanted. This thing is clear, it’s out there on the social networks like a huge throbbing Belisha beacon. It’s in just about every single conversation I have with a committed cyclist. I’ve read many magazine articles about this thing and suspect that if I dug deeper I’d find a bearded individual who’d written a book about it. I’ve had this thing before and I hope that one day I’ll be given it again. I know as well as any cyclist that this thing is number one at the top of my cycling gift list and I’d not substitute it for any other present.
As an author of two cycling books I’d have hoped that this thing was my texts. Sadly it isn’t, my text pales into insignificance when placed next to this thing and I’d even admit that I’d vote for the thing in front of my books. It’s worth noting that this particular gift is not without controversy, it’s definitely been responsible for a large number of arguments nationwide and I suspect has even been the root of a divorce or two. I also know that whilst it not particularly difficult to get hold of it is often given with a huge reluctance even though the committed cyclist would be eternally grateful for its receipt.
Have you twigged yet reader? Do you know what this thing is? And if you said new bike or Campagnolo groupset or Rapha onesie or Park toilet roll holder you’re wrong. Subscription to magazine xyz was also way off as was engraved hip flask and anyone who dare suggest a drug users memoir deserves a week’s latte making at the UN marketing convention.
The answer is simple. It’s more time to ride. That’s what we really want because that’s what cycling’s about. Time’s where we’re mostly lacking and time is where we have the need. Given more time we’d become faster, fitter, thinner, more able and more appreciative of the riding we could undertake. But modern life compresses our cycling time. Work and family commitments see us in an ever more frantic dash to pack in as much experience into as few minutes as we can. The things we buy or read or wear are simply facilitators to making the most of this time and if there were no eyes endless supplies of ATP, perfect weather systems and a lack of insects I suspect that many of us would be as happy as we could ever be riding naked on a single geared bike devoid of the crap that the marketeers insist we festoon upon ourselves.
I know I’m right about this because I listen to cyclists talk. Their eyes light up and sparkle as they describe the experiences that this time delivers. I can’t remember a single conversation that contained the phrase, “As I summited Alp Du’ez I rejoiced in the sheer splendour of my Assos gilet which had proved well worth every penny of the mortgage I took out to buy it”. Cyclists talk about the times they’ve had on the bike, these times made them happy. Give them some more times and they’ll become even more happy. Remove some time and they’ll become a little more tense.
So, here’s a thought to all those partners or employers wondering what gift to bestow upon the cyclist in their life. How about a little more cycling time? Just an hour or two more will do for a start, but give it freely with your blessing rather than a grudging release from the prison of everyday life. The upside, is that this present will definitely be used, I can provide a one hundred percent returnable guarantee . And whilst the cyclist is spending the time that was gifted their way they’ll be thinking of the giver with fondness and appreciation. A perfect gift that benefits the two.