The holidays are a time when you can reasonably hope that someone loves you enough to indulge with something extravagant, something you pine for but are unlikely to drop the coin on yourself. Sure, there’s more to the holidays than that, a lot more. Giving my kids cool stuff is way better than anything I might receive, and I was selfish enough for long enough that I’m relieved to be able to write that with ironclad sincerity. Or maybe it’s that enough cool stuff passes through my hands the rest of the year that I don’t really have to wait for Christmas.
Nope. I really love those smiles.
So we’re going to kick this one off with a true extravagance. This is a bike nut’s answer to jewelry. Sorta. Way more useful than jewelry, but every bit as well made and beautiful. The Silca HX-One is an 18-piece tool set comprising eight Allen wrenches, six Torx bits and four screwdriver bits. They are the best-made Allens I’ve encountered in my long career, and I’ve hung out with guys who look down their nose at Snap-On. At $125 it reeks of overboard the way teenage boys smell of desperation, but unless you lose one of these, this is quite seriously the last set of these tools you’ll ever buy.
Bedtime stories are a favorite part of our household, even if getting the audience into bed is as hard as getting a politician to answer the question you asked. This fall we ran across a fantastic Kickstarter project, called B Is for Bicycles. It’s a minimal investment—only $18.99 for the durable hardcover, and on those nights when the audience is longer on interest than endurance, you may not make it to M.
Cool. I want to be cool. I want to walk in a room and cause men and women alike to swoon. I want a bike line that succeeds because of how amazing I am, not because they are impeccably made, but I also want the bikes to be so amazing that it increases my personal amazingness.
Of the many frame builders out there working in lugged steel, I have to admit that I lust after the work of one guy slightly more than the others. Mark DiNucci of DiNucci Cycles has a set of skills that truly set him apart and an aesthetic that disguises function as form so that his work is irrevocably original and unique without hyperbole.
In a world where credit due is given too rarely, I try to give the folks at Bike Monkey props for putting on the event that sealed my lovestruck surrender to the charms of Sonoma County. Bike Monkey events are run like an effective Thanksgiving dinner. Everything you need is there, it goes off on time, is a bit crazy, overwhelms you just enough to make your senses reel and forces you swear that next year, you know exactly where you’ll be. For $380, Bike Monkey offers what they call the Hope Pass—entry to every one of their events save the fondo and the Howarth Dirt Crits. The courses are as pretty as they are challenging, the entrants as fun as they are fit, and memorable as said Thanksgiving dinner.
Given the unacceptable rate at which we cyclists are mowed down by meth-snorting bishops texting their BFF, we would probably do well to always ride with some sort of blinky. Not that it will prevent said high clergy (see what I did there?) from turning us into a speed bump, but for normal people who might only be asking Siri where the nearest Starbucks is, a blinking light might help prevent us from being vaulted skyward. But what of those holy folk on their way to or from the bar? Well now there’s the Fly 6, a blinky that also shoots 720p video, to record the blunt instrument as it passes—or strikes—you. The Fly 6 is made by Cycliq and goes for $169. It’s got a run time of six hours, which can be put to use recording the looks on everyone else’s face as you open your 40 of whoopass.
Temperatures in Sonoma County have been sufficiently frosty to cause me to recognize that I need some pieces for even colder weather riding than I’ve been using. While I have a few pieces for freezing temps, needs can spark desires. I’m covetous of the Assos Habu Jacket (the name isn’t that simple of course, but I’m not going there). The thing about Assos’ cold-weather gear is that the pieces are almost unnaturally lightweight for how warm they keep you, meaning that you maintain dexterity and flexibility in the mobility-sapping cold. Yeah, it’s $379, but it’ll last at least 10 years.
When I was a kid, tricycles were as durable as Donald Trump’s ego. They also weighed about that much. Finding a tough tricycle with a metal frame has gotten tough. I fail to comprehend why. Fortunately, Schwinn, which has mostly gone down-market, is making a kick-ass tricycle and it’s so low-slung it’s good for the tiniest pedalers. Did I mention it’s as stylish as George Clooney?
I want one more weekend of riding with Mini-Shred back when he was just two years old. He loved riding with me when I was fully decked out for a ride and his enthusiasm for someone so small seemed miraculous, transcendental. The wisdom of his little body was more than two.