Editor’s note: This is it. The final day of our spin on the holiday gift guide, brought to you by our gear-review guru, who, over the last 12 “business” days, compiled a 12-day list of gift ideas (in various price ranges) for all the nordies in your life. So if you see him, say thanks. And stop asking about his underwear-washing regimen. He’ll get to it when he gets to it.
It is with carpal tunnel-ridden wrists, a rapidly dwindling supply of thinly-veiled sexual references, and a heavy heart, that I must sadly inform you that this is the last installment of the 2016 edition of “12 Days of FBD.” I like to think that every day can be a day with FBD, as hopefully all of you have taken these amazing gift ideas to heart and bought every single thing on each and every one of these lists. To be clear, if you have followed all of my instructions carefully, you should have actually bought TWO of everything on all of the lists, as you’re going to give one away and keep one for yourself — nothing is more pro than that.
As you undoubtedly expect, we’re going to go out with a bang, as I really have saved some of the best for list. These aren’t just gift ideas, these are THE gift ideas.
Day 12: Blast Off
Under $30: Donation to Protect Our Winters nonprofit, $Any Amount
Like skiing? Guess what you need to ski? Snow. Thanks to one of the strangest elections perhaps in the history of democracy, we have a president-elect who believes that despite overwhelming scientific evidence, climate change is a myth being perpetrated by the Chinese. This is a problem if you intend to venture out of your house for any reason at some point in the rest of your life. Instead of sitting around complaining about this travesty, DO SOMETHING about it. Most politicians are like sheep — they follow the flock, so make your voice heard and support one of the great organizations out there fighting for not just our winters, but the very survival of our planet. One very good organization leading the fight to save Earth is Protect Our Winters. I put this in the “Under $30” category, but you can most certainly donate any amount. Please also feel free to donate in the names of others, in particular if they also refuse to believe the near unanimous scientific consensus on climate change (Guess what you’re getting for X-mas, this year Rob Magee?). If you breathe air, don’t want your house destroyed by flood, or even remotely care that future generations won’t be able to walk outside for more than 30 seconds without their clothing burning off their bodies if we don’t address this problem right now, you’ll be glad you supported these folks. Donate at ProtectOurWinters.org.
$30 – $100: Nebulizer (Pari Trek brand, $73)
Maybe you can’t ski like the Norwegian National Team, but you can share their approach to pharmacology and ethics. No asthma? No problem! Fly to Norway, find a “sympathetic” doctor, and boom, you’re TUE’d and on your way to better splits. Available at JustNebulizers.com.
FBD Pro Tip: Don’t buy sunburn cream in Italy.
$100 – $250: Muck Boots, $214.99
What do watching races, retrieving your intransigent Great Dane and getting Christmas trees have in common? Cold feet — remember way back when we started this journey I told you we’d discuss both cold hand and cold feet? (No, not the marriage type of cold feet, you’re on your own with that one) — and while we’re on the topic of cold hands, for the love of God, NO, you DO NOT have Raynaud’s Syndrome, you simply have shitty gloves, so stop it with your hackneyed, amateur, self-diagnosis.
Over $250: Custom Altius biathlon rifle stock, $1,200
I don’t know if there is a more exciting sport anywhere in the world than biathlon: this amazing competition combines all of the coordination, fitness and discipline of cross-country skiing with the laser-like focus of precision shooting, therein adding a mental toughness and focus factor simply not found in most other sports. The extremely narrow margin of error involved in shooting golf ball-sized targets 50 meters away in wildly unpredictable weather at near-max heart rate means that you see frequent lead changes, action all the way down to the wire, and emotion and intensity in its rawest form.
It is for all of these reasons that biathlon is one of the few sports that I will actually watch. I’d much prefer to actually be out doing sports rather than sitting at home watching others do them. I have this crazy notion that controlling my own destiny (and activity) is somehow healthier than attempting to live vicariously through others. I’m not alone either, as there was a landmark study in 1972 by noted behavioral psychologist Martin Seligman, on a phenomena known as “learned helplessness”. The main finding of the study (and subsequent related studies) is that organisms are much happier if they are in environment they can control. This Sunday, you can go for a ski, or you can scream at the TV at the overpaid, steroid-abusing mercenaries, who, contrary to popular belief, DO NOT represent your city, state or personal values. And should your team win, please never forget your role in that whole process.
The choice is yours: watch other people do stuff or go make yourself better. Get out there and work on your technique. Learn how to classic ski. Learn how to classic wax. Then give up on classic waxing and buy these (Rossi skis from Day 3). Or, call Caldwell in hourly intervals if you even have the slightest inkling that your kick wasn’t perfect. Don’t just take my word for this though, test it yourself. See which strategy leads to happiness. I’m not your mother, so I’ll leave it up to you if you want to shape your own future or let your happiness be dictated by events over which you have literally no control. Seems like an easy choice to me, but hey, what do I know, I’m just that guy who only uses the passing lane for passing cars, then immediately returns to the correct driving lane in order to allow faster moving vehicles to safely pass.
Since after that little sermon, you are now no longer watching football, how are you going to spend your Sunday afternoons? Here’s an idea — let’s go back to what we talked about two paragraphs ago — why not try biathlon? Biathlon isn’t just for unkempt French dudes, it is for everyone. There are several excellent programs right here in the good ol’ US of A than can get you started safely, certified and really to rock (including Colorado Biathlon, Minnesota Biathlon, Ethan Allen Biathlon, Casper Mountain Biathlon, Bridger Biathlon, to name just a few).
FBD Pro Tip: If you are going to race in the greatest of all winter sports, biathlon, here’s a shocker, you’re going to need a rifle. As we have already clearly shown over the course of the past 12 days, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well, so if you’re going to race, you might as well outfit yourself with the best gear possible: the Custom Altius biathlon stock. Available at AltiusGuns.com.
FBD Bonus Pick: The Smokey Bear Watch, $1,000
I’m sure it’s not a secret by now that the FBD likes gear, nay, LOVES gear. And it loves him right back. Ask any good craftsman and they’ll tell you success is all about having the right tool for the job. Sure, you can use a screwdriver to pound a nail, but you know who does this? A certain guy by the name of Primative Pete. Following this metaphor, you certainly can wear a digital watch out to dinner, but you know who does this? A certain guy who’s not getting laid that night. Plain and simple, you’re not going to meet any girls (or boys) if you’re wearing a digital watch. Now don’t panic here fellas, the protocol regarding male fashion accessories is ridiculously simple and can be broken down into three simple rules:
1. No jewelry. Ever. (Wedding rings don’t count, as those are more anchors than they are ornamental). Why no jewelry? This should be quite self-explanatory, but in the off-chance that you still have questions, these photos pretty much say it all:
2. No cologne. Ever. Don’t be “this guy”.
3. Have a nice watch. If you’re paying attention and following the above guidelines, you’ll realize that this protocol doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for dudes to accessorize. This is by design, as while women often excel in this arena, guys usually massively screw it up.
None of these items shown here should ever be on your body at any time, for any reason:
What should always be on your body? A nice watch. We already covered training watches in Day 5, but what about those two hours per day in which you are awake but not training? If you have somehow managed to cloak all of your glaring narcissistic tendencies enough to dupe an unsuspecting female into joining you at a local fine dining establishment, for heaven’s sake, show up with some game. We’ve been over the underwear protocol in excruciating detail, but trust me, underwear selection and hygiene level will not even come into play if you goof up the basic stuff, and having a nice watch is, well, basic stuff. Remember to guys, you only have to follow THREE frickin’ steps here and two of them are just things to NOT do, so everyone out there should be able to handle this.
Here’s what’s awesome about this code of conduct though, not only is it ridiculously simply for even the most fashion inept male to follow, but a nice watch can be a treasured heirloom for literally generations to come. On very special occasions, I still wear a watch my grandfather gave me and it means the world to me. Watches can also be used to mark special occasions, therein giving the gift lifelong significance. If you give (or are given) a good watch for graduation, a birthday, anniversary, etc., you will think about that event and that giver essentially every time it is worn, and isn’t that what holiday giving is really all about?
I am particular fortunate in that the lovely Mrs. FBD (yes, there really is a Mrs. FBD) will occasionally reward a good performance in the bedroom with a watch and I’m proud to say that I’m up to a collection of three beautiful time pieces. Far be it for me to be one to brag, but let’s just say that I can maybe even see another one being added in the next few years.
Now that we’ve proven our theorem on why you need a decent watch, the obvious next question is, “Which one?” As usual, we have you covered here too. FBD loves watches and while an easy pick may be a Rolex, Omega, Bell and Ross, Cartier, or Breitling, none of these brands may really be “you.” This is why one of my new favorite Mickey’s is this:
Made in Detroit at the Shinola Watch Factory, this watch is a very limited edition and celebrates the history of one of the most iconic and longstanding environmental movements, forest fire prevention. In a time when we need to be doing everything we can to help our environment, it is refreshing to see a company paying tribute to one of the most effective environmental public service campaigns ever and even donating a percentage of the sales to the US Forest Service.
I’ve saved this for the last day because this is honestly one of the best picks of the series. Yes, it is a bit spendy, but of the over 60 products suggested in the past 12 days, this one is the most “Chrismas-tree ready” (this is the Christmas equivalent of a construction project being “shovel ready”). Why? Well, this gift has pretty much everything. For starters, the watch comes packaged beautifully:
Next, included with the watch is a seven-page bound history of the Smokey Bear forest fire prevention campaign, which is quite interesting. Also included are very nice retro Smokey Bear cards, featuring classic iconography:
These elements all make the gift much more interesting and gives the whole thing a very luxurious feel. So while every nordic nerd would most assuredly appreciate unwrapping a double-pole machine that looks like it has been packaged by the loser of a drunken, monkey knife fight…
… with one simple phone call, you can not only have without a doubt one of the most impressive looking gifts, but also one that will carry significance for literally generations to come. So while the watch is indeed a bit pricey, trust me when I say that it is a wonderful gift.
And remember, you’re never going to meet a woman if you’re wearing a digital watch. Church. Available at Filson.com.
We’ve been on quite a journey together these last 12 days and I think we’ve learned a lot about each other along the way. You all have learned that I wear my underwear for 10 days at a stretch (no pun intended) without washings. I’ve learned that people love to read about gear, even if it requires digging through literally pages of weird, cryptic ramblings on a wide variety of often only loosely-related topics. And my editors have learned that it is easy to tell when I’m getting fired up. Like now. I’m getting fired up because everyone is writing in asking for more, so I’m going to miss you people.
As is the case in any good race, succeeding in this series has required excellent pacing. Since this isn’t my first day on the radio, I believe that, as usual, I have paced myself perfectly (this was drilled into my head doing rollerski TT’s at SoHo with the Loppet Nordic Racing Team. If you skied positive splits in the TT, you did the dishes), so I’m “negatively splitting” this mo-fo — not only am I not running out of energy, I seem to only be picking up speed. I’m not going to lie to you, this means that I am struggling a bit to say goodbye. This, combined with my perfectly timed taper and peaking energy levels, means I feel compelled to throw in a few more FBD Bonus Picks.
*FBD Super Bonus Pick: FBD Bonus Pick #2 is also a real peach, and oh golly, I’m hot today. What is it? Or should I say, WHERE is it? The answer to those questions, in order, is that it is a gift certificate to a training camp on Haig Glacier. Led by Matt Liebsch, one of the only two American men to win the U.S. Birkie in the past 15 years, this camp can lay the foundation for one of your best seasons ever.
There’s an old adage in ski racing, “A good winter is built in summer,” so get a head start on next year’s season now by giving the gift of getting the kooky nordic skier in your life the hell out of the house for a week in the summer. Everyone wins in this equation: Haig Glacier camp, approximately $1,500 (2017 pricing is not set yet). More information available by email; send Leaper in hourly intervals at email@example.com.
**FBD Super Duper Bonus: A week at FBD fantasy camp. Even though you’re a nordic skier, hopefully you have enough of a life that you’ve never considered one of these events, Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, New York Yankees Fantasy Camp, or God forbid, Philadelphia Eagles Fantasy Camp, but what about FBD fantasy camp? Now we’re talking. For just $100,000, you can walk in my shoes for a week (not literally, as I’d never let any of you filthy people wear any of my beautiful footwear). You can experience firsthand the indignity of verbal abuse from East Coast motorists, having your precious belongings destroyed by an unruly and essentially untrainable Great Dane, and if you’re really lucky, perhaps we’ll even let you turn in a rambling, unhinged manifesto about dirty underwear, wax brushes and why you need to be matching your hat, gloves and buff. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that’s happening daily. FBD Fantasy Camp, $100,000. Available at Marketwatch.com (I’m somewhere down on the list with all of the other really expensive, dangerous ones, after all, it IS in Philly, where essentially anything can happen to you at any time).
Finally, thank you all for hanging in there with us to the very end. For many, this has been a crazy, tumultuous year and hopefully these columns have brought some pleasure to all of you in their own right and have also stimulated, encouraged or aided you in some way, shape to form to increase your enjoyment of one of the greatest sports, activities and lifetime pursuits one could ever find, nordic skiing. Have a great holiday everyone and hopefully I’ll see you out there. And please remember on that drive to the tracks, races, or gear store, the left lane is a PASSING lane.
If you’re wondering how the hell we got here, or you just love my beautifully crafted preamble so much that you revisit every day before heading off to face the challenges of the working world, the introduction and backstory can be found here. If unlike most of America, you actually spend you time at work, working, you may have missed some of the previous days and they can be found here: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11