Be Bicycle Santa - Andrew's List
Be Bicycle Santa
I've been reasonably thoughtful this year. I mean, I don't remember doing any skids on trails and I gave away a few tubes to fellow travelers. I worked at some trail days, even in the rain, and I didn't even wear shants or short-shorts on any rides where a photographer was present.
Still, from my entirely unscientific polling it seems that, in general, St. Nick knows a lot more about socks, underwear and booze than he does about riding. So my list is a mix of gift ideas for anyone looking to boost a beloved cyclist's Christmas experience (and haul!) along with some suggestions for how Père Noël can improve mountain bike gear for next year.
More 'Weird' Bikes
I've been fortunate to ride some very interesting bikes in 2017. That includes hammering climbs on the entirely different suspension platform of Marin's 160mm travel Wolf Ridge 29'er, floating on the fast and very fun upgraded Trek Stache and the shenanigans that I had on the Kona Wozo.
If I get to choose one gift from Bicycle Santa it's that the industry designs more distinct machines along with all the generic mega-awesome-super-sleds that aren't much more interesting than last year's similarly awesometastic bikes.
Part B of that gift is that I get to try them.
Ibex Merino Knickers
Ibex may or may not be going bankrupt. There is a lot of information out there and the only two facts that are easily confirmed are that they have laid off a bunch of employees and that they divorced their entire dealer network to focus on direct sales. And everything on the website is on sale.
Ibex makes a lot of stuff but they manufacture two pieces (in the USA) that are without equal for their application. They are a mid-weight Merino wool 3/4 knicker and a heavy-weight Merino wool 3/4 bib-knicker.
Both items are simply amazing to wear when its cold and my 3/4 bib-knickers are positively f***ing glorious under an otherwise uncomfortable pair of truly weatherproof shorts.
Treat yourself, or a cyclist you care about, to one of the best pieces of cycling kit ever made.
I'm into the smell of Triflow in a way that's probably illegal in the ten most conservative states (probably also the kinkiest ones). Unfortunately, it's fantastic for lubing the inside of cable housings and pretty much nothing else. That includes chains and especially suspension pivot points (Triflow is a wet lube so it attracts grime and yet it still needs to be applied before every ride).
But we all have a friend who is regularly dribbling it on to their chain, or worse yet spraying their whole drivetrain down with an aerosol can. Create a Christmas Miracle by correcting the error of their ways before they go out and discover an even worse option.
There are a few really good chain lubes on the market and a lot of crappy ones. I've had great results with Boeshield T-9 and Dumonde Tech Pro X Regular in all conditions, from dry and dusty to pissin' rain wet, but whatever works best in your locale is the right one to buy.
Bonus points for being a cheap gift that can make a big difference to drivetrain life and riding experience.
When I suggest getting all sweaty and having a professional photographer take your picture I'm not picturing a bearskin rug and leopard print skivvies.
Reflecting on a year of writing reviews and editorial one of my favorite takeaways is the small collection of riding photos that Dave Smith has snapped of me. Long after I've forgotten stealing nips from Tim's flask to fend off the cold, or hiking up the trail for one more angle, I'll have some great riding shots.
As it happens, between projects many professional outdoor photographers, Dave included, are happy to book riding photoshoots freelance. Rates and minimums are going to vary like red wine prices in the liquor store; you generally get what you pay for but there are some amazing values if you do some research.
They may not fire things up in the bedroom but you can show them to your mom when she asks what you've been up to lately.
Weather Proof USWE Packs
My USWE pack review is far from complete but I'll say up front that the unique 'No Dancing Monkey' harness system works really well for me. It stays put bumping a hardtail down rough North Shore trails and hammering technical single track back up.
Where does Santa Claus come in? I'm assuming the folks at USWE have been good this year so maybe the elves could tuck some little messages into their gifts hinting for a waterproof version? A hybrid of my beloved Acre Hauser and this Airborne 9 will be delicious!
What to get for the rider that has everything? Many local trail associations have Trail Passes with proceeds going right back into the trails. They're generally around $20 for the year and come to term yearly with a good Karma return on the investment.
Either way, be kind to your fellow trail users, regardless of how they're traveling. Thank you for reading in 2017 and Happy New Year!