In addition to my many other excellent qualities (such as, um, posting morose, self-pitying blog entries like yesterday’s), I am an excellent giver of gifts. Seriously, I really am. I’m known for giving people gifts they don’t expect, but quickly come to find useful. I am, for example, directly responsible for why most of my sisters now carry a Leatherman Micra on their keychains. And for why my Dad always has a GPS with him when he goes hunting. And for why my Mom uses a headset whenever she talks on the phone. And for why Susan now carries her iPhone with her everywhere she goes, even when she’s not expecting a call (I could write a very convincing article on why everyone who has to take a lot of pills and shots and spend a lot of time with IVs in them should have an iPhone).
My technique for giving great gifts is really very simple. I use the following patented three-step process, which means that if you use it, you must pay me a nickel in royalties. Yes, only a nickel. I am not greedy; I just want acknowledgement of my ingenuity.
- I identify interests the Gift Recipient (GR) and I have in common.
- I think about things that I either have or really wish I had in the vein of that interest.
- I buy one of those things for the GR.
Yes, it’s simple. Yes, you should have thought of it yourself. But you didn’t. And that’s why you must now send me a nickel.
Using this brilliant (and, I remind you, patented) technique, I have come up with my ingenious Third Annual “Christmas Gifts Cyclists Will Actually Like and Use” List.
Before I get started, let’s take a moment to consider: This really is the third year I’ve done a Christmas Gift List for Cyclists. I recommend checking out the 2005 list and — especially — the 2006 list, which has a lot of great suggestions, many of which came from Friends of Fatty.
In fact, it was due to the 2006 list that I found out about Twin Six, and I daresay that’s worked out well.
That said, you may find that some of what I say this year contradicts what I’ve said other years. Which is not really very inconsistent of me, since I do that all the time. Hey, I’m not here to design unassailable logical constructs; I’m here to tell you what to buy for Christmas.
Note that I’m going out of my way to either leave off items that have been in previous lists, unless I’ve got a compelling new reason why you should consider this item as a gift.
- A bike. In 2005, I argued you should not buy a cyclist a bike. This was because really awesome bikes are too expensive to be gifts for most of us, plus most cyclists have a very specific idea of what bike they want, and the chances of you buying that bike are — let’s face it — poor. However, my line of reasoning assumed you wanted your gift to be a surprise. When you think about it, though, which do you think most cyclists would rather have: a surprise, or the bike they’ve been lusting after? So, do this: gather all the cyclist’s friends and family together and agree that instead of each of you buying individual presents, you’re going to band together and buy the one thing the GR really, truly wants (or some portion thereof, if the GR has expensive taste). Trust me, the surprise that you’ve organized everyone around buying the GR’s fondest desire will far outweigh any possible surprise of a lesser gift.
- A floor pump, even if the GR already has a floor pump. File this under “Things I’m listing specifically in the hopes that someone will pay attention to and buy for me.” Most cyclists have a good floor pump, but they’re constantly having to move it from the car to the garage and back again. I would love to have one floor pump to keep in the garage, and one that lives in my truck. That way, I have one fewer things to keep in mind when I’m loading up to go on a ride from a trailhead I have to drive to. And you know what? If I had a third floor pump, I’d still be happy, because then I’d have a pump I could keep by the rollers in the exercise room. And if I got a fourth floor pump, well, I can’t think of a good use for a fourth floor pump, but I haven’t really put my mind to it yet. To choose a good floor pump, just go to your local bike shop and tell them you want to see the floor pump they use in the shop. If it works, you know it can stand up to whatever your GR can dish out.
- A really, really good pair of bib shorts. Until this Summer, I had never owned a pair of expensive, top-quality bib shorts. Thanks to a nice bonus at work, I treated myself with a pair of DeMarchis. They are wonderful. But I think most cyclists hesitate to spend so much money on shorts. It seems self-indulgent, wasteful. So do it for them. Spend the $150 - $200 a great pair of bib shorts costs on the GR. They’ll say, “You shouldn’t have,” but deep down, they’ll be incredibly excited to find out if there’s really a difference. And then they’ll be excited that there is in fact a difference. And you’ll get to be pleased by the fact that the shorts you bought are the ones the GR always picks for race day. Brands to consider: Castelli, Descente, DeMarchi. Those are quality brands that aren’t on the wrong side of the law of diminishing returns.
- A really nice helmet. Here’s a trick to surprise and delight your cycling GR. Find out what size and brand of helmet they wear, then buy a new helmet — same size, same brand — but top of the line. Most cyclists need a new helmet every couple years, so even if the GR doesn’t need one right now, s/he will soon enough, and then s/he’ll have a really sexy one, courtesy of you.
- A Microflate Nano and a bunch of CO2 cartridges. I’ve been a fan of the Genuine Innovations’ Microflate for a long time. It’s tiny, it’s cheap, and it has no moving parts, so it’s really unlikely to break. Buy one of these and a box of 16g threaded CO2 cartridges (a box of 30 cartridges costs only $40 at Gas Depot), for your GR, and s/he’ll have what she needs to take care of flats — whether on a mountain or road bike – for years and years and years.
- A sexy jersey. I wish I could sell you a Fat Cyclist jersey for Christmas, but they’re all sold out (don’t worry, there’ll be a 2008 Fat Cyclist jersey). But Twin Six does have a buncha other great jerseys for sale. My favorite’s the Cross. I own one, and that black and red is very sexy. I need to lose weight so I can fit in it again (I’m not even close to size Medium right now).
- Fat Cyclist T-Shirts, Socks, and Water Bottles. Hey, you didn’t expect me to not plug my own gear, did you? I’ve now got orange water bottles, pink water bottles, t-shirts, and socks for sale. All at Twin Six. All priced to sell. Whatever that means.
- Coaching. You don’t need a huge amount of money or vast quantities of free time to get faster. Robert Lofgran coached me last year, and it made a huge difference.
This, I know, is not a big list. It’s a good list, but it’s not by any means a complete list.
What I’d like you to do is, in the Comments section, say what cycling-related item you’re hoping someone will give you for Christmas. Together, we’ll create a list you can confidently either use to purchase gifts, or to send others to when they want to buy something for you.
Either way, you each owe me a nickel.