This is the 1st annual Bike Junkie's gift guide for that special cyclist on your list. This year, I decided to focus on the practical, instead of the extravagant. But, if you decide to bestow some extravagant gift upon that special cyclist, I'm reasonably sure they wouldn't be upset to find something like this under the tree Christmas morning. These gifts also will say that even though you may not understand their need to go riding at the most inopportune and inconvenient moments, their desire to take their bike on any and all family vacations, or their devotion to pedaling in the basement at unnaturally early hours before work during the winter months, you accept your loved one's obsession.
So, in no particular order, here is this year's gift guide:
Tubes - This is something every cyclist needs, and something that very few have a supply of at home. No matter who you are, or where you ride, you are eventually going to get a flat. Tubes are cheap, usually $3-5 each. Buy your cyclist 4-5, or more. If you really love your cyclist, or if they are especially flat-prone. go for the no-flat tubes, such as Slime, or one of the other brands out there.
CO2 Cartridges - This goes right along with tubes. Something most cyclists only have 1-2 on hand at any given time. Completely indispensable when you are out riding, and they work much better and quicker than mini pumps - just try to inflate a road tire to the standard 90-110 psi with a mini pump. Cost is about the same as tubes. Get your cyclist a road repair kit for Christmas with several tubes, co2 cartridges, and a patch kit.
Entry fees - Yes, you can go ride your bike almost anywhere you want for free, but if you want to participate in a race, event, or charity ride there is going to be an entry fee to cover that commerative t-shirt and water bottle they give you at the end of the ride. Not to mention insurance to protect themselves from someone doing stupid, and blaming the event organizer. No doubt you have heard your cyclist mention something about an upcoming ride, and how much they would love to do it. Surprise them with the entry fee. Cost ranges per event, but typically $20-40.
Shaving products - If your cyclist is a roadie, the chances are high that they shave their legs. The chances are also high that they are stealing your razor and shaving cream to do so. This Christmas, get them their own shaving supplies - ones made especially for cyclists. Brave Soldier makes excellent skin care products targeted towards cyclists. Cost ranges from $15 for a tube of Brave Shave to $55 for the Ultimate Shave kit.
Bar tape - The easiest way to make an old bike feel new is to replace the bar tape. Aside from the saddle, this is your most intimate contact with the bike. Some cyclists will replace their tape every season, others may have had it on there for quite a bit longer. The best tape is a gel/cork tape, it has the traditional feel of cork, with some additional padding provided by the gel. Under no circumstances get adhesive backed tape! It is a nightmare to take off and clean. Unless you know for certain your cyclist would like a particular color, stick with basic black. White is acceptable for that "Euro Pro" look, but it will get dirty by simply looking at it. Cost is around $15-20.
Books - There are hundreds upon hundreds of books out there on the topic of cycling. I am focusing on two that have my attention right now. The first one is Roadie, the Mis-understood World of a Bike Racer by Jamie Smith. To read excerpts of the book, and to get a taste of Jamie Smith's style, visit his blog, Riders Ready. The other plus for this book, is that the illustrations are done by my favorite cartoonist, Jef Mallett - the creator of the Frazz comic strip. The other book is Park Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair. This is a great book for the do-it-yourselfers, put out by the leader in bicycle tools. Great color photos illustrate all of the steps, and the steps are well written and easy to follow. Cost is $20-25.
Socks - Cyclists and wild socks seem to go hand in hand. And like water bottles, most cyclists seem to collect socks. There are several brands out there, my favorite are Lin socks. The reason why is they are made locally, in Logan Utah. Cost is $10-15, unless you feel like making the trek to Logan, then you can ususally find some factory seconds for half-price.
Magazine subscriptions - The next best thing to riding, is reading about other people riding. Not really, but it is nice to keep up with the latest trends, and find out what your favorite pro's are up to. There are several magazines out there, depending if your cyclist is a roadie, or mountain biker. A magazine subscription is also the gift that keeps on giving all year long. A couple of notable choices for the dirt set are Dirt Rag, or Bike. For the roadie in your life, look at VeloNews, or Road. Good all-around choices would be Urban Velo, or Bicycling. Don't worry if they already have a subscription to whichever one you choose, you can simply extend their subscription another year. Cost varies depending, check the websites for subscription rates.
Time - The final suggestion of something to get your favorite cyclist is time. Time to ride. Unless your favorite cyclist is a pro, and does this for a living, finding time to ride can sometimes be difficult. Cost is priceless.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful. If you are a cyclist, print out this list, and place it somewhere your significant other will stumble across it.