Christmas is a great holiday. The snow, the food, the presents and the mystique of a fat stranger sneaking into your house through your chimney all make December 25th one of the biggest days of the year for most people. But for the moto-heads of the world, Christmas is a chance to get sponsored by St. Nick to some much needed parts and accessories—possibly a new bike—or to find the perfect excuse to buy yourself something cool. While pondering what I was going to ask the Sandy Claws for this holiday, I was taken back to some of my fondest Christmas memories. The following is a random recollection of some of the greatest Christmas gifts that I ever received, in no particular order:
To begin with, one of the most memorable gifts I’ve ever received was the one that started it all: My trusty Suzuki LT 50. I was two years old at the time, and getting this hand-me-down gift from my brother was like being handed the keys to life. Sure, it’s a quad, but barely a week after Christmas I was racing around the yard like I almost knew what I was doing, and an obsession was born. I must have run a thousand gallons of gas through that ATV! A season of ice racing taught me throttle control, and before I knew it I was on to two wheels. These days, I like quads about as much as I like anchovies, but I’ll never forget the fact that without St. Nick, my motorcycling career may never have taken off in such a fun—and safe—way.
Fast forward several years later, I was a pimply-faced youngster with a rabid passion for anything with wheels. The trouble was, growing up in Colorado did not lend to a long riding season in December. But I’ll never forget that one of the best things to get me through a long winter with no dirt bikes was Supercross Circuit, and addictive little PlayStation game that I found under the tree one year. I put more hours on this game in one winter than I probably did on my bike all year, and it saved me from going bonkers as the snow collected outside. As soon as it was nice enough to ride the video games began to collect dust in the corner, though every now and then I still try to revisit my roots with a good rodeo heel-clicker session on the old Supercross Circuit.
As the son of a salty old Enduro racer, I was raised on XR80s and 100s. There came a time, though, when my dad decided that I was ready for a motocross bike. My first one came under the tree with just a bow on it, and there she was: a 1986 Honda CR80. I was psyched, my brother may have been a bit jealous and my dad was excited to see my skills progress aboard the zinger of a mini. His enthusiasm plummeted, though, as soon as I started blowing up the bike. Seven—and I’m not exaggerating here, you can ask my dad—pistons later, we got rid of the roach and I was on to bigger and better things. Nonetheless, I still get a tear of joy in my eye when I remember that two-stroke Christmas.
I’ll never forget the year my best friend got one of the new No Fear Stratos Chest Protectors. As a copycatting little thirteen year old, I had to have one. Santa was kind enough to oblige that year, and the thing lasted for almost two seasons of pure abuse. Last time I was home I saw the old guard hanging in my folk’s garage, still chipped, cracked and sandblasted but altogether in decent shape. I may have looked like a power ranger in that chest protector, but I felt cooler than Jeff Emig in a Shift Leisure Suit, and that was all that mattered.
Around the age of 14, I decided that I wanted to get into freestyle. Despite my parent’s doubts, I convinced Santa Claus to help me with a little side project, and as a late Christmas present I received a pile of metal. To some kids this would be punishment, but to me it was better than gold: I now had the resources to build a freestyle ramp! After putting my high school metal shop skills to good use, I was officially in business. My backyard effectively became my own single-ramp X Games course, and it was, as they say, on. Thank you, Santa!
In more recent times (about two years ago), I found myself living alone in Southern California, and Christmas was a sparse one. I stoked my spirits by allowing myself a new mountain bike, which came in the form of a sweet Cannondale Rush 800 demo bike that I bought slightly used for a decent price. That became one of the best Christmas presents in recent memory, and I still pedal that sucker to chest-heaving glory about once a week. I’m a total penny pincher and not one to spoil myself, but this was one exception that rocked my holiday’s pants off. Do you have a favorite moto- or wheel-related Christmas present? Leave a comment or post a picture in the www.dirtrider.com forums. Let’s see what you got!