When we think of Christmas, we often think of sleigh bells and snowfall. At Wally’s Bicycles, located in the southern Texas town of McAllen, the holiday season has a different feel. While they may not be making snow angels, the locals get to enjoy perfect riding weather, something that many of us up north long for over the holidays.
Wally’s gets in the holiday spirit by putting up a tree every year the day after Thanksgiving. It's tradition. “We purchase a REAL tree, we like the smell, and put it up in our shop,” claims store owner Wally. “Customers bring in ornaments through the month and we happily display them on the tree and throughout the shop. We are definitely not in the North Pole, but we are excited to celebrate the Holidays regardless.”
Around the shop, with traditional carols playing, the common holiday tradition is to head out for a long ride. “This is the perfect time of year for riding in South Texas,” Wally happily points out. “Often in the summer, temperatures hit triple digits for months on end with nearly 100% humidity. Winter is the time of year when we don't have to cake on the sunscreen and don't have to lug along an extra bottle (or two) sitting in the back of our jersey.”
Most of Wally’s favourite rides include long sections of dirt roads. The challenge of riding on the loose dirt and rock surface is what appeals to him. These roads are often quiet and nearly traffic free so Wally feels at home riding them. His bike of choice for these rides is his trusty R5CA. According to Wally, “most of the roads are good enough for a road bike and the R series tends to just float over them.”
The shop is known in the area as a major supporter of road, mountain and triathlon events. Wally’s is often a spot for race packet pick up and sponsors a number of events as well. The shop puts on a triathlon in late November in the border town. Adventure racing has become popular in the area as well with athletes looking to challenge themselves year round.
Many of Wally’s customers are triathletes first and foremost. The winter holiday season is their time to “work on their weaknesses” Wally tells me. “For me, that’s swimming. The water in lakes surrounding the area becomes perfectly cool and crisp as opposed to summer where it feels like swimming in a hot bowl of soup. Of course,” Wally reminds me, “that is when I am not at the shop or already out riding…”Those poor, unfortunate folks in McAllen, TX have to train in these kind of conditions during the holidays.
So while those of us in the north are struggling to ride at all (without our bottles freezing), the customers of Wally’s Bicycles are getting into the holiday spirit in a whole different way. We can think of them walking around the shop wearing shorts and singing along with the Christmas Carols playing over the store speakers.
How are you spending your Holidays?