When it came time to sit down and write this month’s column … I had nothing. Not because there’s a lack of bicycle happenings—fall in Salt Lake is always packed with events ’cause it’s pretty much the only time of year when you can bike somewhere and arrive relatively dry from sweat and/or melting icicles.  I guess I just didn’t feel like going to any of them. As Megan Follows’ characterization of Anne of Green Gables dramatically exclaimed in the 1985 CBC mini-series (you’ll only get this reference if you were a doe-eyed, 8-year-old girl pre-’00s), I was in the “depths of despair.”

I know I’m not the only one who sinks into the couch during this time of year, literally feeding depression with sourdough baguettes (the not-so-secret ingredient for becoming an FBG). The holidays are stressful, and if you’re like me, the 20-degree temperature change happened way too fast for you to buy a good pair of fuzzy slippers, so your feet are perpetually cold and it’s making you grumpy.  Now, if you’re like me, go ahead and slap your stupid fucking face as hard as you can for being such a selfish, ungrateful little bitch. I drive by the homeless shelter every day, where people are huddled up against the fence cradling their dirty kids wearing fuzzy slippers as REAL shoes in 30-degree weather––and I’m complaining because it’s making me sad I can’t fit into my
skinny jeans?

If you’re reading (or writing) this column––if you own a bicycle, a coat and have four walls to hang out in at night––depression is a luxury. The only thing that’s going to peel you off those cushions and dust the crumbs off your chest is the realization you’ve got it pretty damn good as a lower-to-upper-middle class yuppie––even if your boyfriend’s fucking your bestie and your boss is a misogynistic douchenozzle. I don’t wanna get all Relief Society on you, but I don’t have to, ’cause it was Gandhi who said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” In pretty much every photo I’ve ever seen of that guy, he’s grinning like a hyena––either he was a pretty happy person, or someone was feeding him Percocet.

I’m not the most charitable person I know, especially in the global sense, but I say yes when the cashier at Whole Foods asks if I want to add a dollar to my over-priced purchases every once in a while, and I bought an Invisible Children DVD at a Thrice show once. It’s hard to get self-motivated enough to make a difference in your own life, let alone someone else’s––which is why I admire organizers.

Christy “Punkin Pants” Jens and the SaltCycle crew are some of those do-ers, and have put together an event for you to lose yourself in (a manifest will be provided so you don’t actually get lost) and rack up some dopey endorphins in the process. Every year around November, cyclists across the nation group together for their own two-wheeled holiday tradition, Cranksgiving: the alleycat that gives back. Traditionally, Cranksgiving is a scavenger-hunt-style bike race where you ride to different grocery stores and buy food, which is donated at the end. From places like New York City and Chicago, to small towns in the Mid- and Southwest, and even Puerto Rico, some form of Cranksgiving is happening this year. Salt Lake has served as host to this event annually since I joined the scene a few years ago, organized by a variety of individuals, but it was Christy (who is also responsible for the popular Tweed Rides and the ladies’ Kopchovsky Cat) who stepped up to take charge for 2012. “No one else raised their voice to spearhead it, so I decided I would make it happen come hell or high water,” she says.

Salt Lake’s Crankgiving is on Nov. 17 and will be a little different because (as everyone should be doing) she actually did her charity research. Rather than buying up cans of spam and pork beans along the route, riders are asked to bring $10 in ones––cash to be donated at each stop. You see, the Utah Food Bank can buy food at wholesale prices for much less than you can at the grocery store, so the $1 you spend on a can of green beans might buy two cans if it’s in the hands of the food bank. A lot of the food people donate also goes to waste because, apparently, some of us (I blame Romney) think the less money in your wallet, the lower your taste-bud count. “Just because someone is poor doesn’t mean they want to eat the can of spam you donated––they want to eat the same food everyone else eats,” says Christy. “Food banks know this and they can buy the kind of food people will eat, ensuring nothing goes to waste.”

Perhaps the dealmaker in this race for all the selfish, egotistical bastards out there, myself included, is that you can literally buy yourself a win. The more cash you donate, the more time is subtracted from your time at the finish line. For someone like me, who is plagued with flats at every alleycat I compete in, $100 may very well get my slow ass into First Place! That’s less than the bottle of Oxycodone I could buy from my neighbor to numb the holiday pain, and way more of an ego boost. Unfortunately, I won’t be burning off too many baguettes in the process, as Christy is securing some tasty local food for the
after party.

Whatever your motivation, I guarantee Cranksgiving will cheer you up. “A service-based alleycat lets you get out into your community and think about helping someone besides yourself,” says Christy. “When you participate in Cranksgiving you get to race your friends and get bragging rights, but you also get the chance to reach out into the community and help those who are less fortunate than you.”

Cranksgiving will start and end at Saturday Cycles (605 N. 300 W.), the title sponsor of the ’cat, on Saturday, Nov. 17, from 2-5 p.m. You can check out more on the national event at cranksgiving.org. Come ready to ride “hell or high water” and PUT. THE BAGUETTE. DOWN.