Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all bikeists everywhere! Whatever you happen to celebrate (or not), may this season be filled with pedaling joy for you and yours.
Of course, when you are The Bikeist himself, every day is Christmas. Never one to defer joy, when I conceive of something that will enhance my biking experience (that I can afford), I go out and acquire it. (Ditching the second car and solely bike-commuting for 19 years definitely helps me to rationalize each and every purchase as a "necessity.") Some things are best saved for the big day, though, and I simply can't wait for Santa to put one of these under my tree this year:
Thanks to my old mountain biking buddy, Chaz, for bringing this piece of awesomeness to my attention. Who cares if I have absolutely no use for it in San Diego. I want it! You listening Santa?
As for my pre-Christmas acquisitions, let's take a look at a few in case you need to pick up a last-minute gift for that special bikeist on your list:
(1) The Revelate "Viscacha" (Giant) Saddle Bag -
Undoubtedly, you have been ogling the various images I have posted of this beauty hanging from the back of my Secteur. I found it in an Adventure Cycling catalog loaned to me by my buddy Chris, and can't say enough about what a game-changer it has been. The impetus to pick it up (via Amazon since I've never seen it carried by a local bike shop), was my Oregon border to San Fran ride this past summer. Having done some multi-day treks with both backpacks and racks/panniers in the past, I have found both methods to be imperfect. Even when traveling "light," and even with backpacks designed for cycling, they all take a toll on your arms, shoulders and back. Plus, they just take away the sense of freedom you want when spending hundreds of miles in the saddle. Until I found this bag, the only alternative was to throw a heavy rack on the back with panniers hanging off the sides. While this method provides the upper-body freedom denied by backpacks, it makes the bike handle differently and just feels clunky to me. While a rack is invaluable for hauling stuff around town, like a backpack, it becomes an impediment when pedaling for days at a time. The Viscacha eliminates the drawbacks of both methods while providing ample room for all the gear you need (minus tents) for long rides or commuting. It weighs in at a mere 13 ounces and mounts to your saddle rails and seatpost like the tiny saddle bags we have become accustomed to carrying our keys/wallet/patches/levers/multi-tools in -- NO rack necessary! It easily expands or contracts by rolling or unrolling the end and had room to spare during my trek this summer as it housed my next day's shorts/shirt/socks, a jacket, a poncho, pump, spare tube, repair kit, multi-tool, first-aid kit, micro-towel, micro-blanket, maps, kindle, thin cable lock, and various charger cords. This bag is a God-send! It didn't only immeasurably enhanced my NorCal trek, it has become my every day commuter bag. My shoulders thank me every night after doing my 23 mile ride home for leaving them perpetually unburdened. Finally, this light as air bag has solved my personal conundrum regarding what to do with my jacket on long weekend rides. Sometimes I want to shed it after warming up on cold mornings or just have it for the end of the ride when I'm all sweaty, but the sun is going down. Having this "trunk" gives me a place to stow it besides tying it around my waist. The Viscacha is one of the very best bike innovations since they took the pedals off of the front wheel and attached them to a chain and drive-train instead. Get one - you will only thank me.
Shimano PD-A530 SPD Dual Platform Bike Pedal -
Speaking of game-changers, these babies were key to the overhaul of my old red Cannondale to the do-everything urban assault bike it is today. With its fat tires, mountain bike handlebars, platform pedals, old rims, etc., the bike was fine for a short-trip to the store, but not up to serving as a back-up commuter. New rims, skinnier commuter tires, bullhorn handlebars and a Brooks saddle really jazzed up the old bike, but these pedals epitomize its "do-everything" spirit. As you can see here, one side isdesigned for a SPD cleat, while the other is completely flat and flip-flop ready. So, whether I need the bike to tow my giant 12.5 ft board to Glorietta Bay or fill in for the Secteur as I clip in for my 25 mile commute, these, sleek, pedals are up to the task. Thanks to my JAG buddy and dedicated ultramarathoning bike-commuter, Dan, for the tip on these fantastic pedals. As with the Viscacha, it helps to tap into your bikeist network when considering a bike-related purchase --
(3) Specialized Tahoe MTB Shoes -
YES, MTB shoes! This really wasn't a "new" acquisition for the Bikeist, because they replaced the exact same model I had finally worn out after 7 years. It took a huge gaping hole in the side to get me to abandon my super-comfortable old Tahoes, but, thank God, Specialized still makes them. I got them when I was bike commuting to USD for my E-Law program and needed bike shoes I could also walk around in all day. The recessed cleat made them adequate for walking, but the breatheability and suppleness of the rest of the shoe is what got me hooked. So comfortable. As a non-racer, I don't need the foot coffins that the spandexed crowd squeeze their feet into. I want the benefits of clipping in without the discomfort. These do the trick (as long as Specialized keeps on making them!).
Feeling a little guilty now as I realize that this short list doesn't even cover half of my biking purchases this year. Oh well -- Santa loves bike commuters -- perpetually on the "Good" list -- right, Santa? Right? . . . . .