Yes, my gift guide is late. I’m the worst. Thankfully, there is still time. Rather than try to write a clever opening, I’m just going to get to it.
I’ve spent somewhere around two months of the past year on the road, chasing interesting stories or projects or visiting people I’ve always wanted to visit. It’s been incredible. I also managed to spend a large chunk of the year injured and unable to ride and race the way I wanted to. It was a break from riding that I didn’t want, but one that I needed. It has allowed me to re-evaluate how I look at equipment and I now understand a lot more about what I want for myself.
This list is largely reflective of that- this is the stuff that I would love to see sitting under the tree for myself…
There is no where I am happier than at a race with a beer in my hand, cheering everyone on – this goes especially for track racing. It has always hurt my heart a little that I can’t experience track racing the way it existed early in the 20th Century. When bike racing was THE American pastime and could fill Madison Square Garden.
That’s not happening any time soon. But Six Days of Ghent sure is.
There is nothing that I love on the planet more than a good bike party. The Six Day race at Ghent is, as of this moment, my favorite bike party. The building where it is held exists almost exclusively for this one event (that and the Flemish version of The Voice). You’re packed in with thousands of rabid race fans. There is real deal Derny racing, Madisons, match sprints – and it’s on a 166.6m track. The racing is incredible – completely thrilling. You can grab a ticket for the infield and watch the racing next to other racers warming up. You can grab tickets for a seat in the stands and park for the week. Heads up – the American model of cheering your face off at sporting events isn’t necessarily appreciated in Belgium. At best, you’ll attract some glares. At worst, someone might be inspired to start a fight. But hey! The whole thing is amazing. Exhilarating doesn’t even begin to describe it. It will fill your bike love cup full for the whole year.
Gotta say, though, when I was there, I was able to take a morning and attend the World Cup CX race at Koksijde. If you can pull that off as well, make it happen. You won’t regret it. I haven’t been to a cyclocross race stateside that even touches it.
Get your tickets now if you’re thinking of going next year.
I’ve been working on a bike with a friend of the show, Erik Noren, for the past year so I haven’t had a lot of room in my head for other bikes.
That said, it is cold outside. There is a lot of snow on the ground. It is impossible to not have fat bikes on the mind.
I’ve lasted six seasons in Minneapolis without a fat bike, still managing to get around. When I wanted to do a fat bike race, I’d borrow a bike (there are plenty in this part of the world to go around). I just haven’t moved on one because I haven’t really met one that’s done it for me.
And then I saw what Chris “Soultrain” Sulfrain had going on at REEB. I’ve been coveting the TyREEBdonkadonk for over a year. Room for 5.05in tires on 100mm rims, Pinion gearbox with Gates carbon drive, accommodations for a dropper post, and a Lauf Carbonara 60mm carbon fork. It’s much too much- which is why it’s just right. I’d never had a fat bike inspire a visceral reaction out of me before this one.
I’ve been pining for the women’s sized Giro Empire VR90. They come with Giro’s SuperNatural Footbed kit so that my high arches are guaranteed support. I’m excited for the narrower women’s fit, and beyond stoked that this version comes in Berry and Pink- which will match all of my socks and kits and be otherwise v flashy.
I’ve been pretty stoked on Coeur since seeing their product at Interbike 2015. The brand patterns are fresh. I like how the brand was created by two women triathletes to address frustrations that they personally faced training and competing in available product. It’s because of this approach to product that I feel they would be the best team to create zip away bib shorts.
The solution is pretty simple, a single locking (critical) zipper up one leg so you can pull the short to the side and get what you need to get done, done. The rest of the bib is pretty minimal – no extra swaths of material up the back of the garment. No special front strap solution to make getting into or out of the bib complicated. Plus, Coeur uses their Cold Black material on the bibs which reflects radiative heat to keep you cool in the hot sun.
Winter is tough in Minnesota – until you get the right gear. I want to spend the rest of this polar vortex bundled up in the Smartwool NTS mid 250 bottom. They are durable as well as thin, meaning you can throw them under a pair of tight fitting jeans if you’re looking for a way to keep the chill off for the day. Plus, as they are 100% Merino wool, they wick and they don’t retain bad smells from people or next day campfires.
They come in a variety of colors besides black, an extra bonus for someone like me who has an almost entirely black wardrobe (especially in winter). Being able to quickly locate and install a base layer is critical for spur of the moment winter hi-jinx.
That’s what I have. Happy holidays!