Editor’s Warning: By reading this edition of Single Track Mind you attest that you are over 18 years of age and have scant regard for your future well-being. Older readers with a death wish may try to implement Mr. Melling’s ideas but don’t blame us if your New Year’s Day gift is a divorce writ from your spouse’s attorney.
There are holiday gift guides, and then there are holiday gift guides penned by Our Man Melling – enjoy the read, but follow his advice at your own peril!
At this time of festivity, it’s critical to recognize the importance which the women play in a racer’s life. They are not there simply to provide an endless supply of food and drink to all your friends who are too cheap to buy a burger and fries at race meetings but prefer to blag free refreshments: no, they have a much wider role.
For example, who’s going to find the lost earplugs three minutes before the start of practice?
And your precious bike has to be carefully warmed up in time for your first race – and goodness me, without appropriate training the little ladies can be very remiss in this important department. No, it’s so much more than these basic skills.
Clearly, technical and logistical support comes automatically with the marital/steady girlfriend contract but there should also be extended, and sensitive, psychological backing for the man of the house. The fact that the slimy bastard riding the Honda pulled a dirty pass on you for 15th place is equally as important as NASA’s discovery of a new planet or a cure for the common cold – and your life partner needs to recognize this.
She also needs to join in with your unbridled joy at taking third place in the 500cc Classic class – an achievement which not so much equals Marc Marquez’s achievements in MotoGP but comfortably surpasses them.
Equally, she must understand that athletes of your caliber do not need those Girly Boy, so called health, diets but rather we thrive on Nachos and chocolate chip cookies which need supplying in industrial quantities at every race meeting.
So, for all these reasons, at this time of giving and receiving, I have come up with a list of Christmas gift suggestions which should bring that magical glow to the cheeks of any racing wife.
The Hand Made Bracelet:
He most definitely did not go to Jared... 'But babe this is hand-made. Plus those nuts are pure titanium - just like that plate on my collarbone and forearm. Titanium!'
This is a particularly special gift because it has the secondary benefit of being extremely, and quickly, recyclable and so entirely cuts out all that unacceptable Western world waste.
First, check which parts of your bike would benefit from drilled nuts. In my case, the bottom caps on the front forks of the Suzuki needed 10mm nuts and these were available in titanium – and how erotic is that?
A length of the very best stainless steel lock-wire was perfect for the bracelet and with the nuts meticulously threaded on we have a beautiful, hand-made, individual piece of art.
Clearly, girls being the less intelligent of the species, tire of their gifts very quickly and so every part of the charm bracelet can be immediately re-cycled to its proper task.
Empathizing With Your Wife:
There’s nothing worse than having your life partner spill race fuel as she is filling the bike. In England, this is a particular problem because crack cocaine is probably cheaper than gasoline.
So, there she is complaining that the five gallon can is heavy and that the race fuel has removed her nail polish – and it really does this a treat – and has exfoliated the first ten layers of her skin and all the other things which modern women moan about.
You now have two choices. The first is to point out that if she had been part of the “Great Migration" of 1843 she would have walked alongside your wagon for 2000 miles so what’s the problem with the odd splash of expensive race fuel?
Protect dainty digits from greasy grime and chemical burns with a box on nitrile gloves. And they say chivalry is dead...
But this is not 19th century America but a more caring, feeling, empathetic society in which we men are, rightly and properly, in touch with our feminine sides. We should empathize with our loved ones and so an unopened box of nitrile workshop gloves as a Christmas gift really does mean a lot.
However, a word of caution: females are not budget conscious like us men. You will find that after using the gloves just once she may want to throw them away and then demand a second pair for when she is lubing the chain or loading the bike into the van.
This is the slippery slope to an indolent and spendthrift attitude. Remember, an easy going attitude at Christmas can easily be misunderstood for weakness throughout the rest of the year.
Make it clear that the Christmas gift of a box of gloves means just this: one box of gloves for the year - and when these are gone then it’s back to bleeding hands.
Pretty Christmas Lights:
You know how much women like Christmas baubles. There you are trying to watch MotoGP highlights on the TV while she disturbs your meditation by struggling past, wheezing and panting, with a seven feet high Christmas tree on her back. Then she spends the whole night walking to and fro with bags of decorations and half a mile of led lights whilst you are trying to study Marquez in ultra slo-mo.
You won't find the chain alignment holidy card at your typical Hallmark store. And it's that extra effort and personalized touch that makes it both thoughtful and practical for your dearly beloved.
But come on, this is Christmas and not a time to be selfish and egocentric. This is the time to empathize with the views of others and think about the joy of Christmas and the magical beauty of those twinkling lights.
So let’s join in and show her a really high quality light. Let’s give her a genuine, laser chain alignment tool. This is another gift which, once she moves on to the next shiny parcel, can be re-directed to the workshop where it belongs.
But wait – don’t be too hasty because the laser can be really useful during the Christmas Day festivities. When your Mother-in-Law arrives for Christmas dinner and launches into her traditional tirade regarding how badly her daughter married and how bizarre it is that someone who so was pretty and well educated failed to fall in love with a banker or a Realtor or a Highway Litter Control Officer but instead was seduced into a life of travelling around the world with noisy motorbikes which also smell and you know what the neighbors think because Laura Britton’s husband won the 2013 “Good Citizen of the Year” award for his work on choosing new colors for the fencing outside the Town Hall and Mrs. Britton said what had my daughter’s husband ever won and all I could say was some trashy trophies for motorbike racing and Mrs. Britton said that sounded all very antisocial and was my son in law a Hell’s Angel and did he race a chopper and what was I supposed to say about this? I mean, it isn’t it time he grew up and started acting his age and not his shoe size?
Unfortunately, the law does not permit assault with a deadly weapon on a Mother-in-Law, even on Christmas Day, but there is a non-lethal defense which can be carried out.
Take the laser pointer and carefully conceal it. Then flick the beam over your Mother-in-Law’s cutlery so that just a millisecond of intense red light is apparent. Then, at each new chapter in the assault look up to heaven and say: “I feel that the Lord is sending us all messages of tolerance, understanding and kindness at this special time of year.”
Don’t react to anything your enemy says – just look piously at the sky and clasp your hands in a quasi-praying position. You will be surprised at how quickly God sending flashing lights is something which worries your M-i-L, because she is clearly heading for Hell and an eternity of being taunted by devils revving up unsilenced four-cylinder two-strokes, so as she cracks you can go in with the killer blow.
“It may be that my heart will be broken in 2014 through a lack of funds to race. If only some kind, gentle, God-fearing person could help me by buying 25 gallons of race fuel. This would be so much more meaningful than those selfish people who can only manage two pairs of woolly socks as a Christmas gift.”
Yes, a result!
Help Round the House – a True Gift for Christmas:
'Oh, chain lube... Darling, you shouldn't have. No really, you shouldn't have.'
You have to see this through your partner’s eyes. Clearly, your overwhelming desire is to head for the workshop, until the whole Christmas nightmare is over and you can get back to the winter re-build which is dominating your thoughts. But, girls have a different view of this magical time of year and we’ve got to recognize and value this.
It stands to reason that you don’t want to upset your house proud spouse, so bond with her and make an effort. The best way of doing this also has the benefit of using up those tins of chain lube which contain enough of the precious fluid not to warrant throwing away but insufficient to take to race meetings and risk running out.
All those squeaky door hinges and creaking cupboards can be treated with just a single tin of partially used chain lube and just think of the sheer delight and joy the love of your life will feel when you present her with her very own tin of lube on Christmas morning!
I should add a little tip to enhance her Christmas experience. Just don’t stick the tin of lube under the tree but make a real effort. A band of tinsel around it shows that you really care and make sure that you include the plastic straw too because this amount of Christmas spirit, and open handed generosity, is really appreciated by the recipient.