Holiday Shopping, Black Friday Rush, by Bohphoto on flickrIt’s the time of year for Thanksgiving and holiday shopping. Columnist Ryan Kelly reflects on the how it’s important during this time to give thanks and remember those who have helped you out throughout the year.

by Ryan Kelly

With the holiday shopping season upon us, it’s time to be thankful, and I am the first to remember this. So I thought it would be helpful for me to create a list of people and organizations who ought to be thankful and remember me during any upcoming five-hour mall excursions. Why, you ask, should they be giving me any gifts? Hopefully I’ll make my case below.

USA Cycling: My Elite license cost me $160. So far, the only use it has been put to this season is allowing me the splendid opportunity of getting lapped by Jamey Driscoll in every UCI race. Instead of purchasing my Elite license, I could have spent my season simply hopping on the course (kitted up and on my bike, obviously) with about two laps to go to have Jamey rocket by me; which would have achieved roughly the same result. The rest of the 45 minutes usually spent racing could have been spent enjoying a new hobby, like making a trampoline out of flat tubes, or trying to steal the SRAM Volvo (loaded with bikes and wheels) and engaging in what would be a very confusing high-speed police chase. I basically handed USA Cycling $160 – money which could have gone towards classes in hot-wiring Swedish sports wagons. So how about it, USA Cycling? Throw me one of those sweet generic USA teamkits!

Real Pros/the people that lap me: I know that most professional American cyclists barely make enough to afford rent – and ‘cross pros even less than that – but they are benefiting from my entry fees. Each of those $45 checks goes towards the payout, and I’m certainly not seeing any of that money come back to me – which would only happen if races start paying forty deep; I could probably save myself the trouble and just mail a check to whoever I think might win the race. This would cut out the middleman, and save me some gas. So when every elite rider in New England is rushing through the mall this year, it would be nice if they pick up an Xbox game and send it off to me – since my entry fees have probably already paid for it.

Promoters: Whatever money doesn’t make it to the racers goes to the promoters; although I’m sure that, through putting on such a costly event, promoters likely end up with a majority of my money. Either way, my entry fee is going to the mythical land of Someone Else’s Bank Account. Promoting is a thankless job, but I like to think that throughout the season I have made promoters’ lives a bit easier by giving them an entry fee and expecting nothing in return. That’s right. Ryan Kelly needs no podium girls. Ryan Kelly needs no giant glasses of beer. Ryan Kelly doesn’t even need a shower after he races. Just give him a starting grid to be at the back of, and a parking lot generally devoid of children and police officers to change in, and he’s happy! I’ve been saying thanks to promoters all year by entering their races, and it’s time they think of me…other than when they laugh as they read my name on the pre-reg list. I was wrong before when I mentioned my $45 entry fee. My entry fees aren’t always $45 for races. They’re usually something like $47.50, or whatever the entry fee + the BikeReg transaction fee ends up being. I am certainly thankful that BikeReg is there to give me a schedule of races and make it insanely easy to register (registering for a race takes such a short amount of time I don’t even have a chance to remember how demoralized I was after my last race until I’ve already clicked the “Register” button). However, they probably should have a server, network switch or something in memory of the money I’ve spent there. I’d appreciate a server purchased in my name.

Gas stations: If I wasn’t racing my bike almost every weekend, I would probably never drive to exotic locales like Northampton, MA or New Gloucester, ME. There is a very real likelihood that, if it were not for cyclocross, I would spend the fall sitting on my couch playing video games or partaking in another activity that doesn’t involve six hours of driving for two hours of racing. The cars that I bum rides in are not powered by happy thoughts of rainbows and unicorns, but rather toxic and highly processed, eons-old organic debris. Maybe the current plunge in gas prices is my early Christmas present (or maybe it is just an indication of how truly screwed our economy is). If it is, that’s fantastic. But if big oil is planning something beyond decreased gas prices, I think fuel made from thoughts of rainbows and mythical creatures would be nice.

Dunkin’ Donuts: Like every other ‘cross racer, I require food. Thankfully, there is a law in Massachusetts requiring a Dunkin’ Donuts to be placed every quarter-mile along all paved roads. As a result, I have probably spent more money at Dunkin’ Donuts this season than I have spent at an actual supermarket. The only gift that I would like in return from DD is for the company to stop plastering photos of Rachel Ray everywhere. For some reason she just creeps the hell out of me. And maybe cut it out with the Styrofoam cups.

My roommates: Imagine, if you will, that you live with a loud person who enjoys electronic music, as well as leaving his speakers blaring when he is not in his room, or even in the apartment. Also imagine that this person tends to wake you up at seven in the morning by stomping around the kitchen whistling the theme to Magnum, P.I. Now imagine that this person is gone, almost every weekend, for all of the fall season. Sure, he is annoying as hell five days a week, but having him gone on the weekend is enough of a reprieve to calm your ever-increasing homicidal rage. On second thought…maybe my roommates should be buying the promoters presents?

Well, that’s all I can really think of for who should add me to their shopping list. But if you want to buy me something – magic wheels that will actually make me go faster, or a time machine so I can remind my past self to actually train – feel free to pick it up and send it my way. Cash is also accepted.

Ryan Kelly, Cyclocross Magazine ContributorCyclocross Magazine’s contributing writer Ryan Kelly is a ‘cross renaissance man. He’s racing with the pros, writes an online column about ‘cross (see his previous entries here and here), shoots video interviews of the pros, and takes photos of the non-pros.