10 Great Christmas Gifts for Cyclists

If you aren’t ready to take out a second mortgage for that new shiny Trek Madone carbon frame gem this Christmas for that special cyclist someone out there, you can still let them know you care with a few of these MUCH cheaper biking knick knacks. We made up this short list of anything from a small little stocking stuffer for the once in a while cyclist, to stuff everyday cyclists use…everyday. Of course this list is VERY subjective and includes some of our favorite stuff, but that is why they are great gifts…in our humble opinion.

 

1.       Chamois Butt’r - Any cyclist worth their salt knows that chafing goes hand in hand with our beloved sport of cycling. To combat this issue, we are big fans of the Chamois Butt’r whether you are riding in that century or quick Sunday morning ride. Every cyclist uses some sort of skin cream or another, which makes this one an easy gift for any cyclist, heck even those runners too.

 

2.       TimBuk2 Bag ­- Did your cyclist friend make a New Year’s Resolution to ride this bike to work more often? If so, TimBuk2 makes some great messenger bags that they can pack all those work manila folders into along with their laptop. My personal favorite is the feature that keeps the computer compartment separate so you don’t even have to take it out of the bag going through airport security…ah, the little things. Even if they aren’t biking to work, they make some cool packs for just about anything.

 

3.       Performance Bike Gift Certificate - Does your cyclist friend have just about everything you can possibly think of? Then just get them a gift card to Performance(we’ve donated quite a few paychecks to them over the years) so they can just pick out for themselves what they need.

 

4.       Clif Bar Shots - Did your special someone get bitten by the triathlon bug? Or does your special someone just like a quick shot of energy on that club ride? Then these things are pretty sweet…literally and figuratively. They are great for those races and rides to keep you from bonking halfway through.

 

5.       Bike to Work PantsThese things are made from the same guys that invented the Cortarounds and have a rather clever little feature: you can pull your back pocket out and roll up the cuffs to show off their reflective side(how could we not like that) all while keeping you from looking like a spandex wearing cycling commuter.

 

6.       Breaking Away -  Take a break from biking yourself and roll up on the couch to watch others biking in this charming and humorous coming of age story. This is the classic cycling movie from 1979 of 4 young small town Indiana blue collar kids trying to find their way after high school that culminates in the ‘Little 500’ local bike race. One of my favorites.

 

7.       Knog Bike Light - We encourage everyone to have bike lights IN ADDITION to a set of BikeWrappers if they are doing any kind of cycling at night and are a fan of this Australian company. They make some very good, very simple, very bright, and very affordable silicon lights for your bike.

 

8.    Bicycle: The HistoryIf you want to revel in the sheer beauty of the bicycle, this is your book. This is a neat little(480 pages) coffee table book that not only serves as an illustrated history of the bicycle, but also encourages readers to treat the bike as a work of art

 

9.       Clean Bottle - Can’t fit your paws into your water bottle to reach the bottom that has accumulated a bunch of nasty looking gunk BECAUSE you can’t reach it? Then this is the bottle for you because has the ingenious design feature of being able to unscrew at BOTH ends for easy cleaning. Ride Clean.

 

10.   BikeWrappers Reflective Armwarmers – Come on, are we going to make a list like this and not include at least one of our products? These reflective armwarmers are our newest product and there really is nothing else on the market like it with the sheer amount of reflectivity that they’ve got. Winter is upon us so that mercury in the thermometer is dropping quickly and these things are insulated to give you a bit of warmth for those colder rides AND made from a wicking material to keep you dry when you work up a sweat. 

 

UPDATE (11/28/12): We put out a new Christmas gift list of ideas for 2012 here...

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Craig’s List taketh away AND giveth back…

I went back down memory lane as I recently heard a friend’s story of their bike being stolen, which brought back the painful memory of my bicycle thievery story from about two years ago, which I thought I would sahre. To frame the scene, I am living in the expensive San Francisco, and fortunate enough to live in a place with roommates that has a garage. I can’t tell you how nice it is to not have to worry about street parking but more importantly gives me a space to store all my toys in this expensive square foot conscientious city. So rather than squeezing my bicycles, surfboards, sports equipment, and other outdoor goodies in the apartment, I was happily cramming them in our garage. Since the garage is fairly secure and took two sets of doors to actually get into the garage from the front, felt pretty secure that everything in there was safe and didn’t need to additionally lock ‘em up… Apparently, that assumption turned out to be very wrong.

 

One day I geared myself up to go for a ride in the city, moseyed my way down to the garage, looked in the spot where I keep my bikes, and quickly came to the realization that both my mountain and road bike weren’t there. I started going through the memory bank of, “Did I lend them out to someone? Did I leave them at a friend’s place after my last ride? Did I leave it locked outside the bar last time I went drinking?” but know that my memory isn’t THAT bad that I could forget about both of my bikes. Then the violating realization slowly hit me, “Someone took them!”. They physically broke into our place and took them. I have no idea when it happened and who could have known that they were in there but they knew exactly what they were looking for. My suspicions were only further confirmed when we looked on the front door of our place and found a spot on the knob where they used a screwdriver to pry open the lock… This is when the anger started to set in. They could have taken plenty of my stuff and I wouldn’t have been that upset, but come on man, my bikes!?!? The more the neighbors and I check the garage, we realize they took several more things… My motorcycle helmet, some tools, and honestly can’t remember what else now, because I was still fuming about the bikes. The police come out to file a report and takes down all our information. Once the police leave, I am still mad but am trying to come to terms with the fact that I will never see my rides again.

 

As time passes since the break-in, I have visited several pawn shops in the area and have been watching Craig’s List just in case the remote chance that they turn up on there, but to no avail. After a few weeks of checking in and me growing more pessimistic by the day that they would ever show up, sure enough a single listing for my exact model and color road bike shows up on Craigs List. Unfortunately, I did not register my bikes’ serial numbers with the city police department since I thought I was pretty safe on that front, so I wouldn’t be able to identify my bike this way. Though thankfully for me and unfortunately for the person that posted this, they included some very HQ and detailed picture of this bike, which I could specifically point out and identify certain scratches and marks that I had acquired through rather unfortunate at the time crash from a blown tire. My first reaction is to act like I want to buy the bike myself and get a little of my own vigilante justice… But cooler heads prevail and I call the police to find out what I can actually do, though do this only after I started phase one of vigilante justice plan and called the guy acting like I wanted to buy it. I find out from the police that there is really nothing they can do, since the CL posting is from South San Francisco, and it is out of their jurisdiction. At this point THAT is definitely not going to stop me from getting it back, so I call the police in South San Francisco and give them the whole story. The guy on the phone doesn’t really give me the time of the day until I mention two things: 1) I have pictures on me on my stolen bike with certain markings I can specifically use to identify it and 2) I conveniently have the guys contact info(name and phone #) since I acted like I was a buyer earlier. With this they tell me to come down to the station and they’ll see what they could do but not to have that high of hopes.

 

I quickly jump into the car, parked in the broken into garage, and speed my way down to their station. Once I get there, I tell the detective my whole story AND give him the name and phone number of the guy, who is going by the criminal mastermind name of….Brolio… He takes that and runs it through their criminal mastermind database and find out that Mr. Brolio has a warrant out for his arrest for something completely different, so things just got a bit more interesting. Since my bike wasn’t registered with the city, it would have been fairly difficult to pinpoint the bike specifically on him even with my pictures, but since he already had a warrant out, it was go time. So with this new info, the police start talking STING. Awesome! When I hear that word, I immediately think of the classic Robert Redford flick, The Sting, and I get real excited and prepare to bring out my inner Redford. We concoct the plan that my dad(policeman) is coming with me to check it out and I will get to wear a wire to get the guy. Even more exciting! I make another call to Brolio to arrange a time and place to meet at a local Wal-Mart parking lot, since the police want to go to a neutral location reducing the chances that the guy will evade the arrest, but he doesn’t want to meet anywhere other than the address he gave me first, so game on. To prepare for this, the police go to of all places, Google Maps street view, to get an idea of the house and possible escape routes.

 

With the meet up spot remaining his place, I am told the disappointing news that I will no longer be included in the sting because it could be too dangerous for a non-heat packing simpleton like myself.  As the time approaches when Brolio and I(undercover cop with quite the beer gut) agreed to meet up, I am staked out in another cop car several blocks away waiting for it all to go down. While we are patiently waiting, the other detective tells me some really cool cop detective stories, which make me really consider a different career path than future, chief bike reflector… Finally it crackles over the radio that, “We got ‘em”, which has me very relieved to hear that I could finally be re-united with my wheels. We roll up in the unmarked town car and there are several cop cars with their lights flashing, blocking off the street traffic, with one Mr. Brolio in cuffs on the front hood of the car. The only thing left now is to get a warrant from the judge to search the property. Once this comes through, the police check out his place and find not only my bike, but a slew of others, components, expensive rims, you name it… Turns out Brolio had quite the operation going and was probably a fence for some bike ring. Once the police take inventory of everything, the detective rolls my familiar ‘ole road bike out of the house. As I got to take a closer look at it, he had removed the aero bars that I had on there for a recent triathlon and swapped out my pedals and seat for cheap ones, so guess he started to sell the bike piecemeal. Sure enough, I was able to point out the exact scratches on my left handlebar and frame(thank you crash) like I showed them in my pictures. A little paperwork and one statement later, and I was cleared to take it home. Unfortunately, he did not have my mountain bike stored away in his garage as well, guess he had already sold that one, but I was a happy camper. I got my road bike back AND took down an illegal bike ring at the same time AND saw justice prevail with Brolio by following the proper legal route. Craig’s List serves as an easy way for thieves to sell their stolen merchandise, but in this case this thief did not expect a very pissed off cyclist to track him down using the very tool he was using to sell my bike. Now that same bike(and a new mountain bike) are sitting in my moated, electrified fenced, attack dog guarded, super-duper safe garage…so don’t you even think about trying to steal it again…

 

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Come check us out at the SF Bike Expo on Nov. 12-13

@ the Cow Palace, doors open at 10 AM
@ the Cow Palace, doors open at 10 AM

If you are in the Bay area November 12 and 13th be sure to come check us out at the San Francisco Bike Expo and hang out. You can see some of our new patterns(not available for sale yet) or our new reflective armwarmers in person, but the more entertaining thing may be seeing me trying to stand on my feet all day on Sunday after running the Men's Health Urbanathlon earlier that morning... Guess I really didn't think that one through before agreeing to that race. Oh well, it should be fun and think this show should be even more fun.

 

There will all kinds of really cool stuff there...a freestyle competition, a BMX battle, a whole section just of custom frame builders, a cycle showdown, and of course a fashion show

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Our Top 10 Most Interesting Cyclists to Follow on Twitter During This Year's Tour de France, Plus 4 Bonus Tweet-ers

Johnny Hoogerland having a pain in the ass kind of day...
Johnny Hoogerland having a pain in the ass kind of day...

Well, we are through stage ten of the Tour de Carnage of the 2011 Tour de France and one thing is for certain…this is not your typical Tour de France. From the new teams in the field(four American teams), an incredible amount of roster jostling on the teams themselves, to the Contador/perennial runner up Schleck rivalry, the intensified race for the green jersey, to the bizarre car crashes involved, this has been an interesting first week and a half of the Tour so far. With all this action going on, what better way to get the inside scoop of what is going on than hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth per se…or though that little service called Twitter. With things about to crank up even more and the tour gets ready to separate the men from the boys(with these boys being 10X more man than I will ever be on my best cycling day…) with the upcoming Pyrennes mountain stages, there should be a lot of chatter going from the cyclists themselves. Or shall I say the tweets will be flying across the twitter-verse as the cyclists work those thumb muscles as much as they are “dancing on their peddles” across France, as a Mr. Phil Liggett would say. Here is a very un-comprehensive, very subjective, and very biased(mostly English speakers) list of those cyclists that we think are the most entertaining Twitter-ers. This list will not include a Mr. Andy Schleck or Alberto Contador(even tweets in Spanish and English) even though they are two of the favorites to win the Tour, mainly because they are GREAT cyclists but not that interesting of tweeters. So without further ado, here are some of our favorites:

 

10. Cadel Evans,  @cadelofficial - This Aussie has already managed to win a stage in this year’s Tour(Stage 4). Pretty neat to see him wear that chicken pox jersey...

 

9. Chris Horner, @hornerakg – Unfortunately, Chris is already out of the Tour this year due to a crash, but he has always been a favorite of ours for his always upbeat attitude. Even after his crash this year, he was able to complete the race and not even remember crashing in the first place. Lady luck has not treated Team Radio Shack too kindly this tour, though him being out may mean that he will have a bit more time to tweet off some more inside scoop…

 

8) Christian Vande Velde, @ChristianVDV - Christian has paid his dues over the years and is starting to take the spotlight himself. Plus he usually has some entertaining pics posted...

 

7) Dave Zabriskie, @dzabriskie - Yet another rider who is out of the tour due to a crash and broken collar bone, but entertaining none-the-less. Anyone who thinks the Book of Mormon musical is funny as well is good by us...

 

6) George Hincapie, @ghincapie -  This Tour de France veteran(15 times) seems like a constant on the tour. He helped Lance to win all seven of his titles and is the domestique extraordinaire. 

 

5) Mark Renshaw, @mark_renshaw - Renshaw has been Mark Cavendish's lead out man, not afraid to throw a head butt every once in a while.

 

4) Thor Hushovd, @thorhushovd - Thor, God of Thunder, managed to hang onto the yellow jersey for seven days to start, which is a very impressive feat considering he is a sprinter at heart. 

 

3) Levi Leipheimer, @levileipheimer - Levi came into the tour hot off a win at the Tour de  Switzerland though has had a tough Tour so far with several crashes already and losing several members of his team. Hopefully this Santa Rosa neighbor's luck will turn around shortly. 

 

2) Taylor Phinney, @TaylorPhinney - Even though this young buck isn't even racing in the Tour this year, he is worth a follow.  Taylor is a a pretty prolific tweeter who seems to respond to just about everyone that tweets at him...

 

1) Mark Cavendish, @MarkCavendish - The Manx Missile himself is by far the most entertaining and interesting cyclists tweeter out there. If you're going to follow one Twitter-er cyclists, Mark is your man. He usually doesn't hold back on his tweets, which sometimes gets him in trouble and they then disappear. He is the self-proclaimed fastest man on a bicycle and already won 2 stages this year and 15 in the previous three Tours. 

 

 

 


Now that was our exclusive cyclist only list and would be remiss if I didn't include a few other notable tweeters that you may want to follow as well. Here are four bonus cycling personalities that are pretty entertaining as well.

 

4) Neil Browne, @neilroad - Neil is a pretty popular blogger and 'kind of a big deal' who is also a commentator for Versus. 

 

3) Bob Roll, @bobkeroll - Former cyclist and one of our favorite commentators out there. 

 

2) Phil Liggett, @PhilLiggett - Cycling icon Phil Liggett is quite the tweeter. I can't imagine a tour without him announcing it.

 

1) Jonathan Vaughters, @Vaughters - Vaughters is quite an entertaining tweeter and the manager of the Garmin-Cervelo cycling team. Plus any team that wants to get a sponsorship by these guys is good by me...

 

Who are your favorites? Anyone we missed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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