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Watts’ Holiday Gift Ideas: A Guide for Feral Lovers (unabridged)

Merry XXXmas.
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Merry XXXmas.
Merry XXXmas.

Question: If given the choice between going shopping for a Christmas Tree… or of having that naked picture of you circulated on the internet…

(Yeah… that one). The one you finally broke down and sent to that ex-girlfriend however long ago. The one she kept asking for and telling you how unfair it was that she sent you so many and you never reciprocated with anything, much less a selfie. The one you tried to look “sexy” in, but ultimately just looked lost and embarrassed. The one you instantly regretted and had to check fifty thousand times to make sure you didn’t accidentally send to your parents, much less “all contacts”. The one she sent you years later, out of the blue… as if to say “Yeah… I still have this and will not hesitate to use it if you so much as even breathe wrong“…

…which would you choose?

Answer: The picture. My god, I will accept every fucking consequence of that stupid fucking picture.

Taken in a (dirty) bathroom mirror. Angled awkwardly to try and look impressive (or at least not unimpressive, such as it was). Gut sucked in. Eyes unsure where to even look. Straight at the camera? At myself? At a random corner of the room? At the ceiling and God, who was, one can only assume, judging me at that moment? Wondering if he messed up when he made me?

Just please, please, please do not make me wander around a “tree farm” in some cold, snowless strip mall parking lot… Christmas music playing over speakers… watching married couples who loathe each other (but “belong” to one another) fight about which one of them is wrong about everything (I’ll give you a hint: Yes)… trying to choose between a tall skinny tree that just isn’t wide enough?… or a short fat one that just isn’t long enough? Which all just comes back to that damned picture again… and the choices are: “set self on fire” or “get in car and drive off cliff.”

Or both

All kidding aside…

(And I totally am. Because that’s not about me, it’s about a friend. A friend who told me a funny story about something like that happening to him, and not to me, and since it wasn’t me, I absolutely did not break out into a sweat when another friend recently said to me, with this weird smile on his face, “So I talked to Gwen the other day…”)

The point is: it’s the holidays. And while for some of us that just means suicidal depression and crippling existential angst, for a huge swath of the consumer population it’s a magical time to buy into buying shit for people.

So, in merciless long form, here’s a list of items that I would gladly consider sleeping with people for… were they to buy them for me.

(But honestly, the real way you can tell that story isn’t about me is that I don’t believe in god, and therefore, he can’t judge me)

(only Gwen can)


But first… gas money for said experience.

I know I asked for it last year, but…please? Just a little? So I can disappear in my van?

“ooooohhhh, what a bad boy”

I get that some people are content with where they live… and put down roots. And buy houses and do yard work and remodel bathrooms and have granite countertops and buy in bulk and plant hostas and shit. And I get that riding the same loops and trails day after day fulfills and sustains them… and doesn’t just make them drink too much. Every night.

But some of us are restless. And as much as I sometimes wish I could feel that way about a place, I just don’t. And the only way I survive is by getting away and finding new places. Even when they’re in…Arkansas. Or Kansas.

This is Kansas. Not L.A.

Which brings us to…


For years I’ve done the same amazing events. 6 Hours of Warrior Creek. PMBAR. ORAMM. The Shenandoah 100. The Wilderness 101. The Pisgah 111. The Somethingsomewhere 123. And I will forever continue to do them. And if you haven’t… you should. But convinced as I am these days that I have a…a brain cloud. And that my time is limited… I’m looking toward distant horizons.

It’s probably completely unrealistic at this point, given how close it is (barely a month away)… but as an unrealistic romantic who will one day literally be torn apart by the intensity of feelings, at the top of my list is Jay P’s Fat Pursuit.

We won’t go into why I live where I do. But it’s one of those things. You know… those things. (Think couple in a tree lot) When I tell people that I live in North Carolina, they often say something like, “Cool. I hear good things about North Carolina.” Followed, invariably, by “Pisgah, right?” Yeah. Pisgah. That’s not the North Carolina I live in. I live in the Piedmont. Rolling to flat. And while we undoubtedly have our moments… It’s 40 degrees outside right now. And raining. My neighbor still has a “Trump” sign up in his yard. And there are an inordinate number of people here who are excited because a “Cheesecake Factory” just opened in town.

(Editor’s note: What?!? We have a Cheesecake Factory now?!?)

Yeah, there’s a chance we’ll get some snow at least once this year. A crippling two inches to bring the city to its knees. But otherwise it’s the same shit… every day. Just colder.

I want… to load a bunch of bags onto a fat bike and ride that fucker in the goddamned snow until I fall the fuck apart. And if I get hypothermic and take all my clothes off somewhere in the backcountry of Montana? It’s better than dying on a bathroom floor in Greensboro, North Carolina. I’ll tell you that much.

Thanks, Trent.
Photo credit: Trent Bona.

But first I need some gear. (Not to mention fitness)

And if I can’t have Fat Pursuit?

The Maah Daah Hey 100. In far flung North Dakota.

And Breck Epic. On what might as well be Mars for me.

And Rebecca’s Private Idaho. Two words. “Gelande” and “Quaffing.” Look it up.

Linda Guerrette Photography: 2016 RPI Gelande Quaffing &emdash; RPI_gelandequaffing_2016-136
photocred: Linda Guerrette
Linda Guerrette Photography: 2016 RPI Gelande Quaffing &emdash; RPI_gelandequaffing_2016-135
photocred: Linda Guerrette
Linda Guerrette Photography: 2016 RPI Gelande Quaffing &emdash; RPI_gelandequaffing_2016-130
photocred: Linda Guerrette

All of which are pretty far away from central NC suburban strip-mall-hell.

So back to gas money. Give it.


I don’t really lust after bikes (just people)… and I have a particular aversion to gravel racing at the moment. (Look for my upcoming Bikerumor feature: “Why I Fucking Hate Gravel: A love story) But I’ll tell you what I want what I really, really want? A Salsa Warbird. But a steel one. With singlespeed capabilities. Yeah, I know it doesn’t exist. Yet. Get cracking, Salsa.

(And… I don’t really hate gravel. Quite the opposite, in truth. Ay, there’s the rub.)

The geometry and fit of the Warbird is dialed for me. Design and execution were nailed. Lateral compliance and vertical stiffness achieved…or whatever. But for those of us who run one gear, it just… won’t. Not the way I need it to. Sure, there are other companies that do steel gravel bikes… but I find myself in between sizes or don’t like the wheel base (or some random bullshit that probably doesn’t even matter, honestly).

And yeah, I’m still mad as h-e-double-hockeysticks at them. And yeah, they still don’t really get why. But whether or not I like all their decisions, I still like their bikes. Even if they don’t like me. (Which I do get… because I don’t even like me.)

Anyway… here’s a picture I drew of what I want, Salsa. Make it happen? Because when I close my eyes at night, I am a really big deal on the internet.

With humble and profuse apologies to the brilliant and amazing @bicyclepubes

Right now? I want this.

PF30 BB and all. But maybe with less seat post.

The Grava boys are my neighbors. And my friends. And I like what they do. And I’ve been bugging them for over a year about this bike.

I just want some custom paint. Y’all down?

Which brings me to:


Spray Bike.  I’ve painted my bikes before, using whatever spray paint happened to be around.  But the execution and durability was, shall we say… lacking. What? I’m not a scientist. But this stuff… is supposed to have magic in it. And I have a few frames that need an update. Or frames that I love to ride, but for whatever political reasons, can’t. (#shoplife). Yeah, I could pay someone to powder coat it, or to paint it completely differently then how we initially or ever even talked about…  but I learned my lesson. (A rare thing, indeed)

I’m going to paint it myself. And if I don’t like it? (And I probably won’t…) I’ll paint it again.

And again. (sigh)


And then I’ll pay someone else to do it for me.


Pretty sure I want this.

photo cred: Zach Overlord

Contrary to popular belief, I actually do like gears. And suspension. It’s just not what I typically ride. Or own. But when I go to dealer events and demos? I always grab something squishy and big. The Kona Hei Hei Trail was one of the first times I’ve ever ridden a 27.5 bike and thought “I would seriously consider owning this fucking thing.”

I keep having dreams about taking this bike to the Shenandoah 100. Having an intimate weekend together in Pisgah. Maybe heading out west. Somewhere. Making out in the van with the door open. Next to water. Spending the day enjoying each other. A sunlit patio. Margaritas. Touching hands. Maybe dropping the l-bomb.


(Editor’s Note #2: Full disclosure, Watts’ shop is a Kona dealer.)


On a scale of one to ten, how aroused does this picture make you?
So sexy! (On a scale of one to ten, how aroused does this picture make you?)

Like I said… single-speed spokesmoron or not… I do actually enjoy gears on a bike. And while I have negative zero interest in electronic shifting of any kind… I do have mucho interest in a new Campagnolo gruppo. I’ll keep my 10speed Record, but am not opposed to one that goes, say… to 11?

Why Campy? Man… aside from being rebuildable and ergonomically lovable in every way, it’s all about that goony little thumb paddle. Dumping every gear in one fell stroke so that you can still lose your one man sprint to the county line. (I ride alone)

Preferably installed on this…



Do you know how you can tell that I'm a super cool bad boy who doesn't give two hoots about "the rules?" Always with the middle fingers. That...or I'm just a boring one-trick pony uncomfortable in my own skin. Same same.
Do you know how you can tell that I’m a super cool bad boy who doesn’t give two hoots about “the rules?” Always with the middle fingers. That…or I’m just a boring one-trick pony uncomfortable in my own skin. Same same.

Contrary to popular belief, road isn’t dead. It’s just taking a break from sucking. Harkening back to the days before everyone was a Cat 5 champ, a group-ride hero or a D-level triathlete (cough cough). And because most of the outlying gravel roads are getting paved into Lexus choked thoroughfares for homogeneous yuppie developments… road still has cache here. And getting on a road bike and trying to find those few remaining #roadslikethis is a shit-ton less expensive than paying someone to tell you that you could probably benefit from some powerful anti-psychotics (Thanks, doc.) Plus, five hours on a road bike will take me all kinds of places, while five hours on the local trails will be just be “a lot of the same but different.” A super deep metaphor for life.

Some friends of mine started Vynl a little over a year ago. Snappy MUSA aluminum frames. Simple but eye-popping graphics. It’s been a while since I rode something that wasn’t steel. I dig it. (#rad #radical #radafisting)


Now that... is one cool cat (jersey). Is this bike packing? I don't even know anymore.
Now that… is one cool cat (jersey). Is this bike packing? I don’t even know anymore. 1997?

Umm… All of it. Especially if I really have ambitions of doing Jay P’s Fat Pursuit. With few exceptions, every bit of the “gear” I currently own is either swag from races, or was purchased sometime in the early 90’s.

My Whisperlite stove has finally shit the bed. My -0º sleeping bag is now somewhere around 50º+. My teal Mountain Hardware tent actually invites water inside and weighs roughly the same as my bike (and packs to roughly the same size too.) My purple Camp Trails internal frame pack is sloughing off the contents of it’s inner lining. My Jandd Panniers are covered in un-killable mold and smell like rat piss. And I can’t find my Peruvian Tassle hat… or my Tulasi bead choker.

So pretty much all the gear.

One of these…

The NEMO Gogo LE.

To keep the demons at bay.

And this..

Mine melted.
Mine melted.

A pair of gloves so warm that my hands catch on fire.

Maybe these? 45 North Cobrafists. 



Coupled with whatever the hell it is people wear under this kind of set up. A thing I totally know but want to see if you know.

(srsly, what do people wear? Big gloves? little gloves? Nothing?)


But mostly? I want a puff jacket that looks nothing like this…


And everything like this…


Make this thing… and I will tame sandworms…. or fight a million legions of Sardaukar… or, at the very least, consider carrying your child to term and giving birth to it out of the vagina that I absolutely dreamt I had the other night.

No. I don’t know how I feel about that either. Nonetheless, I did.


Apparently, my mercurial temperament and raging 40 year old angst are really just symptoms of my gut flora being out of whack… and not my primate brain grappling with the meaning and absurdity of existence. At least according to science. As a result, I’ve been experimenting. Probiotics. Yogurt. Kefir (which, incidentally, I scientifically deduced makes me shit my brains out exactly 30 minutes after consumption). In my quest, I discovered this stuff. And whether or not it actually has the multitude of these beneficial live cultures that will really convince the brain in my gut to tell the brain in my head that “shh shh shh…it’s ok… it’s ok… shhhhhh…” it’s become a staple. Because it is de-fucking-licious. I will sit there and eat it straight out of the bag. Or take a swig of the juice when the kraut is all gone.

So this stuff. Leave some in my stocking maybe? For Chanukkah?

Remind me to tell you about "the darkness" kiddo...
Remind me to tell you about “the darkness” kiddo…

My gold tooth. Fuck, I miss that thing. 8 years ago, a crack in a tooth led to root canal that led to a crown that led to a gold tooth. Whether the nerves weren’t kilt ded enough or what, it was sensitive to hot and cold in ways that were sometimes vexing. And thus, the dentist wanted to replace it with a porcelain cap. Which is fine and all. But I’m fancy.

I want that gold tooth back.

No. This isn't my face. Or my tooth. My tooth was so much better.
No. This isn’t my face. Or my tooth. My tooth was so much better.

And finally… I just want a little reason. Yeah, I joke and laugh (and scream and kick and flail)…but the next four years really do scare the shit out of me. Not for my own sake… (brain cloud, remember?) But for my kid. And for this country. And for progress. And for the entirety of our stupid fucking unworthy species. Everyday we get dumber as a culture. As a people. And sure, maybe my horseshit on this site contributes in its own way to that dumbing down. (Say “fuck” again, Watts) Probably. But amusing-ourselves-to-death-aside… fight tyranny where you see it. Whether it’s in the form of a president-elect who represents everything repulsive and grotesque about humanity. Or domestically abusive fascists of the private life.

Or just your own complacency.

Kiss to kill, kids.

Care of the manwolfs. We are sensitive beings.

Happy Holithings.


Watts is the owner/hype-man at Revolution Cycles in Greensboro, NC… freelance moron for BikeRumor… scrivener of shop-life at Dirt Rag… and the misanthropic trainwreck behind the Revolting Cogs, a biannually updated blog and cultural think-tank/build-a-bear-workshop, specializing in scathing Yelp reviews of churches and gas station bathrooms.

Follow him at @revoltingcogs on the soul-destroying time-suck that is Instagram.

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7 years ago

excellent …. you forgot a folding bike in your list though

Joe Etzkorn
Joe Etzkorn
7 years ago

Ah, Watts you rule!! Come up to the Fat pursuit and swing into RMS in Spearfish on your way!!

bicycle pubes
7 years ago

i was super mad and then saw the tent demon picture. and now im not so mad any more, because thats amazing.

7 years ago

I hate words.

7 years ago


7 years ago

+1 Kraut.

Raymond Epstein
Raymond Epstein
7 years ago

On point as always. I’ve eagerly awaited this list as your musings are an island of entertainment in a sea of product roll outs and reviews. Feral on.

7 years ago

So, why don’t you just buy your warbird, since you’re paying cost, and then go on Paragon’s website and pick out your dropouts, and then call up Steve at Brew Bikes and pay him some meaningless sum to weld said dropouts on. Sure, you void the warranty, but you get the bike you want and a chance to practice your welding skills. I want a MUSA steel bike for foul weather and canal path riding, so when a customer brought in a 90s Trek 730, that was MUSA and from True Temper OX that he was disposing of, I snatched it up, ordered IS mounts from Paragon and welded them on. Now I have a MUSA, Steel, disc bike that I can ride the canal path on. And I’m only $400 in the whole on the entire build.

7 years ago
Reply to  Watts Dixon

I meant to say “practice your painting” not welding, you pay Steve to to the welding. But steel is steel, and the Salsa is infinitely modifiable.

7 years ago
Reply to  Beat_the_trail

Yeah……..the Warbirds comes in two different frames; carbon and aluminum. Pretty tough to weld new dropouts onto either frame material. Not infinitely modifiable. Sounds like a sweet 730 disc though.

7 years ago
Reply to  Watts Dixon

Oh, I thought the warbird was steel, mah bad. Aluminum can be modified too, but since it’s heat treated, you’ll ruin the temper locally and it’ll be no good. And I fix my own carbon frames, but I wouldn’t modify a new one.
Brew had a small foothold going in BMX when I was a kid racing, and I’ve kept up with his business since. I’m hoping to do one of his frame building classes next year.

Old fut
Old fut
7 years ago

Always entertained. Thanks.

7 years ago

I read this backwards and it made perfect sense.

7 years ago

Hey Watts! You should do Breck Epic, and acclimate at my house the month prior.

7 years ago
Reply to  chadquest

And by “house” I mean “inflatable mattress half buried in beer cans”.

7 years ago
Reply to  chadquest

I’ll get those cleaned up though, or refill them, or something.

Double ZZ
Double ZZ
7 years ago

Watts…how did so many parents miss this gem and instead named every other kid in America Jordan? You had to of blasted out of the womb at 6.34 watts/kilo.

7 years ago

Fantastic. More like this please.

7 years ago

Descendence bikes both approves this (deleted) message, and will make that steel frame for you. Shameless plug out

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