Mince pie season comes round every year, and yet still we're somewhat surprised to see the leaders of the weekly pain-chain take to the roads wearing Santa hats atop their helmets or reindeer tails pinned to their bibs.
Traditions across families and cultures are diverse. Not all of us will be eating Turkey on Christmas day. However, there's some very clear features of a cyclist's festive period which most of us will recognise...
The pre-Christmas tinsel club run
If you're not a member of a cycling club, you're missing out purely by merit of forgoing the annual merriment ride.
At some clubs, this will be the mince pie run, others the Christmas jumper ride. Somewhere in the archives I've got a picture of a rider carrying a small Christmas tree strapped to his panniers, complete with battery powered lights.
At my current club, the pre-Christmas ride doesn't involve fancy dress, unless you count the aero wheels and suspiciously vent free lids that come out for the annual 'Downhill Championships' (you've got to go down and back up the other side, no pedalling, it's a delicate balance of physics and nerve).
However your group of ride buddies chooses to celebrate, it's usually fun and a bit silly.
The club Christmas lunch
Closely related to, or on the same day as, the tinsel club run - the annual CC lunch is always an exciting coming together.
A swift glance of the room quite often expresses just how varied the community is. Or should do, unless something's gone a bit wrong.
Get your Bingo card out for Dedicated Dave (probably still in kit), Long-standing Larry (89-year-old and still going strong), Race Organiser Olivia (searching for marshalls for the early season TT), New Dad Dan (not seen on a ride for approximately seven months), Fastest Man Matt (may receive trophies) and Fastest Woman Wendy (trophies also).
Unconventional tree collection technique
Ok, so 80 per cent of cyclists drive and will take the car when it comes to collecting the living room centre piece.
However, those who managed to pick up a tree on two wheels: we salute you!
The 'beware of ice' email
A bit less cheery, this one. However the warning arrives - email, WhatsApp, carrier pigeon - it's often around this time of year and usually instigated by some poor soul's broken wrist.
Club mates with local knowledge will know the danger spots - off-camber corners, bridges and tree covered dips are likely suspects.
Smugness when you find bicycle themed decorations
If you've not got a bicycle, Santa on a bicycle, bicycle wheel, bauble covered in bicycles or a snow globe containing people on bicycles hanging from the tree, do you even ride one?
Christmas present confusion
Yes, merino is the best fabric available for winter cycling socks - but good luck explaining to your mother-in-law why they have to be of a certain length, and why anything deviating from this will be immediately quarantined to the back of the draw.
And don't even get us started on explaining what a smart turbo trainer is, and why they cost upwards of £500...
The bike-ride negotiations
The ideal situation is that your entire family wants to go bike riding on December 25. If not, and you've been smart, you've already negotiated a way in which you can sneak out for an hour or two to enjoy the quiet lanes of Christmas day.
If you've not done it yet, sorry - it's probably too late.
The pizza cutter
100 per cent going to be in your stocking this year.
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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.
Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor.
Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.
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