THE BIKE BEAT
By Adam Searing
Yes, there were some few extraordinarily lucky riders out there who might have gotten a new Santa Cruz full suspension carbon mountain bike or a camper van with a custom bicycle rack and an outdoor hot shower.
But what about the rest of us? I’ve been surveying my fellow bicyclists this week about cycling-related gifts they both gave and received this season. Here is a list of their favorites:
Woolie Boolie Socks ($16.99)
Abel Hastings, a local rider, immediately brought up this low-cost but high-comfort present when I asked for his input. While I got dress socks with a moose on them, these wool socks designed for cycling up everyone’s game for cold weather, according to Abel. And I’m not going to make any jokes about him getting “cold feet” when it comes time to ride the narrow bridge over the creek either.
Membership in Triangle Off Road Cyclists ($50)
NICA Coach Bryan Engle immediately responded to my question with a great gift that actually improves trails and our local bicycling environment here in the Triangle. Otherwise known as TORC, membership in this nonprofit service organization means not only new connections with fellow riders but new resources for trail building, maintenance and safety. And those trails are visible all around the Triangle.
My own thought was this excellent custom-made bag for a mountain bike that holds just the basics — a tube, CO2 inflator, tire levers and so on. Neil Warren owns a (very) small company in Calgary, Canada, and makes these bags himself to perfectly fit any bicycle. He’s easy to email or get on the phone and the bag itself is well-designed with a waterproof zipper and heavy-duty construction.
Bontrager Wavecel Helmets ($150+)
I asked the manager of Chapel Hill’s Trek bike store, Matt Harban, for suggestions and his response was that “the best cycling presents are about safety.” No disagreement there.
Bontrager and other a few other manufacturers are at the forefront of new innovation in helmet design where significant advancements have been made in making helmets more protective. Researchers at Virginia Tech University just issued an influential study showing that helmets using these new designs and materials (“Wavecel” and “MIPS”) are better at absorbing impacts.
Garmin Forerunner 35 ($169.99)
Local physician and rider Dave Bartholomew immediately mentioned the new Garmin watch he was lucky enough to get this year. It tracks his distance and time, is simple to operate and lets him focus on riding rather than pushing buttons.
Decorative Headset Caps ($12.99 or so)
Modern bikes use an aluminum cap at the top of the headset that is normally just a smooth unmarked cap. Marissa Elk, mountain bike team director and NICA coach, loves to give out decorative versions of these caps for the holidays. Her suggestion for me was one with the slogan “First Ride – Then Beer,” which I took that as a compliment since the encouragement was to get some exercise before I opened an IPA from Carolina Brewery. In any case, this is a clever and inexpensive present.
Adam Searing is a lifetime resident of Chapel Hill, a mountain bike coach and attorney.