Haven't done your holiday shopping yet? (Shame on you.) Picky cyclist in your life whom you're never sure what to get? (Aren't we all?) Relax. You still have some time, and we've got you covered. Presenting 11 gifts that any reasonable cyclist would love to receive, from inexpensive stocking-stuffers to big-ticket items for the rider who has it all. To get it there in time, though, you may need to summon the speed of Mark Cavendish. Allez!
1. RAPHA TRAVEL SET ($45)
This gift pack includes shaving cream, aftershave lotion, and chamois cream (which, incidentally, is among my favorites). These products are loaded with the essences of lavendar, juniper berries, cypress, lemon, and more, which is what makes them feel great, though they might not be quite right if your guy's not into smelling good. For the non-roadie, consider the Winter Skincare Bundle ($60), which nixes the aftershave for soap and cold-weather embrocation.
2. CANNONDALE BMT-6 FUNCTION/CO2 TOOL ($30)
First of all, every cyclist can always use another multitool because these little gadgets can disappear faster than Lance Armstrong's sponsors. And Cannondale's latest is a trick device, with four allen keys, a Torx 25, a flathead screwdriver, and built-in CO2 inflator. After all, if there's one thing that's easier to lose than a multitool, its a thimble-size inflator. If you're feeling flush, tack on $15 for the full kit.
3. TWIN SIX STANDARD THERMAL HOODIE ($195)
This is the time of year for cycling apparel minus the dweeb factor, and this softshell hoodie gets the job done. The Bluesign recycled polyester fabric is water-repellant enough for blasting around town in the snowy crud but still soft and fleecy on the inside, and there are cycle-specific features like extra-long sleeves and a deep rear pocket. Except for the subtle Twin Six logos, you can't really tell it's bike gear, so it's as suited to ice skating or Christmas ales at the brewery as bike commuting.
4. KNOG MILKMAN LOCK ($25)
I'm still marveling at this brilliant little lock. It's smaller and lighter than a rear casette and as pretty as any Apple gadget. Sure, it won't stop the determined thief. But it's enough protection for those times when you just need to make a quick run into the grocery store on the way home or when you want to leave your bike on the patio while you swill a post-ride cocktail. Stow it in your rear pocket and never be caught without again.
5. FEEDBACK SPORTS SPRINT WORK STAND ($255)
There's no better time for ripping apart the bike, cleaning and lubing and checking it all over, and putting it back together again like new, than the holiday break between Christmas and New Year's. And there's no better stand for doing it with than the Sprint. This has all the great features of Feedback's top-shelf stands (burly build, quick-release height adjustments, 360-degree rotation, super compact size when folded) with the added benefit of a fork-mount-style mounting system for added stability.
6. WD-40 BIKE ($8-$15)
Did it ever seem strange that using America's favorite wonder-lube on your bike was nearly as bad as pouring sand all over your chain? It must have struck the company as odd, too, because last fall WD-40 launched a full line of bike-specific products, including wet and dry lubes, biodegradeable degreaser, foaming bike wash, and frame polish. Jeremy Powers and Team Rapha-Focus (yep, one of the winningest cross teams in the country) have been running it all season, and if it can stand up to that abuse it can certainly keep your loved one's chain quiet. And what better way to fill a stocking?
7. RETRO JERSEYS THE GRINCH ($80)
It wouldn't be a Christmas list without one gratuitous holiday-themed item, and the Grinch at least appeals to those who drink the eggnog as well the Scrooges. Retro has been crafting pop culture cycling apparel for a decade (think Star Trek, Gumby, and Chiquita), though they've gained much of their following for their micro brew collection. Call me ... well, the Grinch, but I'm most partial to their more subdued designs.
8. POLAR BOTTLE RED CROSS DISASTER RELIEF BENEFIT BOTTLE ($15)
It's true that bike bottles can be about as prolific as cycling doping scandals, but if ever there were one to buy, it's the new Polar Red Cross Disaster Relief Benefit Bottle. For every one of these boldly emblazoned bottles purchased, Polar, which was inspired by the fallout of Hurricane Sandy, will donate $5 to the American Red Cross. For little more than a standard bidon, you get a tricked out thermal bottle (either 20 or 24 ounces) and the chance to help. And yes, the carrying gewgaw is removable.
9. BICYCLE COFFEE COMPANY DRIP CONE ($35)
If you're loved one is one of those caffeine-avoiding high-performance purists, I say, get this for yourself. Because seriously, is there anything better than the pre-race ritual of grinding beans, filling the drip cone, watching the boiling water percolate through umber grounds, and then losing yourself in the reverie of a beautiful golden cup? Order up this ceramic cone, and fill out the box with a couple bags of Road Holland's Dutch-style Wake N' Brew beans. Extra speed guaranteed.
10. GRUBER IMAGES CYCLING CALENDAR ($18.86)
I realize that in this age of computers and smart phones and tablets, many people have given up on wall calendars. But digital renditions look paltry next to these four color prints, which capture a year of emotion and majesty in the pro peloton. From Martijn Maaskant toiling up the snowy Muur van Geraardsbergen to Joaquim Rodriquez's emotional victory at Il Lombardia, there's loads of motivating imagery. The Grubers, husband Jered and wife Ashley, burst onto the cycling photo scene just a few years ago, and their enthusiasm and love for the sport continues to pour out of their work.
11. STRAVA PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP ($59)
Everyone's favorite sports social media site added a host of new features to its premium memberships recently, including custom heart rate zones, GPX downloalds, and a wealth of new tools for assessing and parsing power metrics. There's no better training motivation than hundreds of thousands of like-minded cyclists to compare yourself against, and a premium membership provides the maximum benefits and features for doing it.
BONUS: THE GIFT OF BIKES
And for those who want to give but aren't so concerned with receiving, might we suggest a few cycle-specific charities.