No matter what holiday you celebrate this time of the year, the joy over new bike gear or even a new bike itself is universal. Even the grumpiest cyclist still gets a glimmer in their eye from getting or giving. This list is less about what I want under the tree as it is about you finding the things that can enrich the way we ride, particularly during the darkest months of the year. At least that’s what I told myself to feel better about compiling such a sweet roster.
Garmin 510 w/ HR – The Metro Boston area is a ‘cross rider’s dream. Trails once trod by hooves and wooden-soled shoes are perfect for a 34c knobby. The only thing is they are hard to find. A Garmin loaded with breadcrumb route points to Robot’s secret-stash trails in the Boston area would go a long way to making this winter one to remember.
Stan’s Iron Cross No Tubes wheel set – Until last week, I’d ridden the same bike for nearly a decade. How much can change in a few years? The answer is a lot. While I now have hydraulic disc brakes and 11-speed shifting after dropping my inner luddite, I stopped short of going for a dedicated tubeless wheel set for reasons of convenience and caution. As a secondary set of wheels, however, tubeless is a natural choice to make my new steel frame ride even nicer.
Castelli Gabba 2 – Growing up in Seattle I learned to love riding in the rain. I still do. My usual approach is akin to a surfer with a wetsuit, though I stop short of natural warming options: You get wet and keep the water warm next to your body. Then I started riding with a friend whose team is sponsored by Castelli and saw that he could actually ride in horrible weather and remain reasonably dry.
Polaris Mini Hoolie kids winter cycling gloves – My elementary-school aged daughter will ride year-round in New England if her hands are warm enough. Ski gloves work but as she rides faster and now needs to shift and brake with reasonable dexterity, they no longer are enough. What better lesson to learn at an early age than cycling in any conditions can be as fun as a sunny day – with the right gear.
A Vermont gravel/cross riding weekend in Spring 2015 – Day 1: Ride the Rasputista backroads event Day 2: Hit Kingdom Trails with skinny tires. I believe a road bike can be ridden almost anywhere. And a ‘cross bike with 40c tires on it can eliminate that “almost” element. This weekend would combine the best Vermont has to offer a rider like me. Besides, I am already registered for the Rasputista; I believe a drop-bar bike can go anywhere an XC hardtail can. I just have to prove it.
A full teardown/rebuild from a great bike mechanic at the end of next summer – This would fulfill an upcoming New Year’s resolution to take better care of my bike. The difference between a competent mechanic and a stellar one can be seen in the little details like anodized cable caps that match the bike. Only a few shops take the time to do this and those are the ones worth trusting with your bike. These services are not cheap, which is why it makes a great gift.
VeloClassic Spring Tour 2015 – A “Holy Week” pilgrimage is a once in a lifetime visit to Flanders and Paris-Roubaix for a glimpse at the immortals in full flight and the ritual feasting upon frites and cobbles. Bike racing is a great spectator sport because, no matter how hard you try, every time I get a fleck of road sand or grit in your teeth I cannot help but imagine “This must be what it’s like …” For those who ride the bumpiest stretches of roads in their area, hands loosely gripping the handlebar tops as they float across the bumps in the big ring with a huge grin, this is the trip to take.
A pair of Buffalo bikes for World Bicycle Relief – More wheels, more good. Development and aid can be incomprehensible but this is one form of support that is immediately understandable with anybody who has found that riding a bike has changed their life for the better.