If you’re like me—or my wife (who I hope is reading)—you’re a bit behind in your holiday shopping. And since everyone else has published at least some form of a holiday gift guide, I thought it would be appropriate to provide one of my own—albeit at the last minute. So without further ado, I give you…
The First Annual Pavé Semi-Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide!
1. We begin in an obvious place: Rapha (who’s accepting UK, US, and Canadian holiday orders (to be received by Christmas) until 2pm GMT on the 20th). I was a recent recipient of the new Knitted Hat and neoprene Overshoes—two items I’ll need as winter continues to entrench itself up and down the Eastern seaboard. The 100% merino wool hat is one of the softest I’ve ever owned. It looks and feels great on the bike—both under and without a helmet; and is stylish enough to be worn around town. And since this is a Rapha product, there’s a tiny "Chapeau!" on the tag in the hat’s lining—a little extra motivation to get you going on those cold winter days. Better still, it’s not itchy, a common problem with wool headgear. I now have both the Knitted Hat and the original Rapha Winter Hat, and this one’s overtaken the latter’s place at the top of my headgear food chain.
As for the Overshoes, a good set of neoprene foot coverings is a staple of any rider’s winter/spring wardrobe. These are tough, with zippers and seams certain to stand up to months of pulling, tugging, and scraping. The zipper pull locks down against itself, and the reflective tab on the heel offers a bit of added visibility on overcast days—and you know you’ll be wearing them on overcast days. Like the Knitted Hat, the inside reveals a brief musing on riding in Belgium, as well as instructions for care and cleaning. One note on fit: I wear a 44.5 shoe and found my sample XL overshoes to be very baggy around my skinny ankles. Yes, XL is a size too big per Rapha's site, but I'm wondering if even an M would have fit better.
2. Another great last-minute gift idea is a magazine subscription. Boring? Yes, if it’s a subscription to something found easily in any local bookstore. But how about something more obscure? Maybe something French or Italian? Italy’s Bicisport and France’s Vélo are two terrific options. Better still, they’re both available for subscription via Amazon.com’s magazine service. Yes, they’re in a foreign language, but there’s something to be said for a bit of foreign reading laying casually on your coffee table. Expensive? Yes, but well worth the money if the recipient appreciates some of the finest coverage and photography Europe has to offer. (Bicisport’s issues frequently run over 300 pages—the May issue covering the Classics is perhaps the finest single publication all year.) Amazon now makes it easier than ever to get on board—order soon to ensure delivery of your first issue by the start of the season. Here's a link for Vélo; and one for Bicisport.
For the book lover, there are several offerings to satisfy all tastes—several, in fact, are on my wish list as well.
3. The 2009 Edition of Rouleur’s Photo Annual has arrived. You can order it from Rapha to have it for the holidays. The latest edition of Rouleur (Volume 15) is out too—you might as well throw one in if you’re already paying the expensive shipping costs.
4. It’s a bit harder to get (you’ll need to have it shipped from the Netherlands), but Cor Vos has just released a massive collection of his best images from his 30+ years covering the sport called Emotions. Next to Graham Watson there’s not a more legendary name in cycling photography. It’s quite pricey (about $150) and it won’t make it to you in time for holidays; but, it’s hardbound and comes in its own stylish slipcase—another worthy addition to any fan’s coffee table.
5. As far as on-the-bike items are concerned, the #1 gift on my wish list isn’t available at least until January, so an IOU might have to do. Giro’s Prolight helmet was unveiled at this year’s Tour to an apparent lukewarm reception—from the riders at least. I like its retro style though, and its low weight and improved retention mechanism look to make it the most comfortable helmet on the market. I wonder how well it fits over caps?
And since we’re moving up in price, why not take advantage of the holiday season to treat yourself or the cobble-lover in your life to a nice set of classic-inspired tubular wheels?
6. Handspun’s Neo Classics hearken back to a day when the best wheels were made by hand. On these babies, DT’s 32-hole 340 hubset comes laced 3x with Supercomp spokes to a set of Mavic Reflex’s—the grey CD rim coating is your only option (but it’s the only one you want anyway). You can even have them tied and soldered for a slight up-charge. Remember, these are not wheels built by a machine—they’re laced, tensioned, and trued by an expert wheelbuilder right here in the USA. If you need the merits of riding tubulars explained to you, well…this isn’t a gift for you. On the other hand, if you or someone you know appreciates a solid, comfortable ride on a hand-built wheelset that can handle just about anything you subject it to—then these are right up your alley. Your cobbled alley, that is.
7. And last, but certainly not least, why not order some lovely new clothing to go along with your new helmet and wheels? May I offer a suggestion? Orders being taken through the 21st for delivery by the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
So there you have it, Sweetheart--I mean, Reader. A short, but comprehensive guaranteed to please any Pavé rider or fan. Better start shopping though, time's running out.