Gear Prudence: As a grad school graduation present, my dad is offering to pay for an awesome bike tour of Ireland, our ancestral homeland. He and I have always been into biking together, and a trip like this is a lifelong dream. The problem is that he’s also invited my good-for-nothing brother with whom I have a very strained relationship and who isn’t even into biking. What the hell? The thought of a week with him is basically unbearable. But this is an extremely generous gift and such a great opportunity. What do I do? —Exceptional Riding In Natural Gaelic Outdoors Beckons If Kin Evacuates
Dear ERINGOBIKE: Great job wrapping up school! As a gift, here’s a chance to glower at your sibling over a Guinness. GP applauds your father’s munificence, but there’s a bit of a poison pill here, isn’t there? It sounds like this offer is less about celebrating your educational accomplishment and more about a family vacation. There’s nothing wrong with that—family vacations aren’t necessarily terrible!—and as a rule, the person paying gets to call the shots about who’s in and who’s out. So your dad is well within his rights to invite your non-cyclist brother. This definitely puts you in a tricky position. Declining the offer makes you seem like an ungrateful jerk, and there’s certainly an element of self-spiting in that, but it still might be your best option.
There’s no point in embarking on this biking jaunt if the misery of sharing the trip with your sibling is going to outweigh your enjoyment. If your moments of transcendent cycling joy will be negated by frustration and fraternal antipathy, and if you honestly don’t think you’d be able to get through a week of riding with your brother—even in an idyllic setting and even if accompanied by your dad, who you seem to like—then it’s better not to try. Use your grad degree to get a higher-paying job and use that extra money to pay for your own trip. You can even invite your dad if you want.
But don’t turn down the offer if you think one of two things might happen before you leave: 1) you can reconcile with your brother (LOL) or 2) you can resolve to ignore his presence the entire time and commit to having fun regardless of his inclusion. Maybe his being there won’t be so intrusive. Maybe you and your dad can outpedal him and leave him in your dust. Or maybe a puckish leprechaun keeps breaking his bike every morning while also leaving bus tickets to the next B&B. GP knows that family stuff is complicated but would hate for you to miss out on a fulfilling cycling experience. If there’s any way you can make a go of it (and there might not be!), you should try. —GP