You know when you really like to do something that you're just not particularly good at? That's me and cooking. Okay, and cycling, but we're putting that aside for now. It wasn't until law school that I found myself alone in an apartment with a knife, cutting board, and stove and left to fend for myself. I knew how to cook a thing or two, but it was mostly Japanese food and I was lacking in both time and motivation. I ate a lot of rice that first year.
I've honed my culinary skills a bit since. The handful of recipes on this site are solid, but I'm not sure they're going to blow anyone away or result in orgasmic throes of gastronomic passion. Still, like cycling, I'm hoping that cooking enough will get me to make something spectacular once in a while. Because there's another thing I like to do but I'm not very good at: gifting.
Unless it's a significant other - in which case they're either a) required to like what you give them [if you've been dating for less than 3 years], or b) going to shamelessly exchange what you got them for something they like better [if you've been married for 10+ years] - it's hard to figure out that perfect token of appreciation for a certain friend/family member/co-worker that you like more than your other co-workers/boss.
Even when they share the same interests as you do, you're still taking a gamble; especially if you've never tested the product itself. But like the vegan chocolate cupcakes I made for the first time for M1's birthday last weekend that ended up fooling everyone at NYC Velo, that pot shot could turn out spectacularly good. Or, it could turn out like my first attempts on the rollers: painful and awkward.
So to make the whole process of gifting this season just a bit easier, the power team behind cassette [read: M1 and me] have put together our top 5 awesome gifts [other than our t-shirts, of course] for that particular cyclist in your life [and no, we don't think that excludes gifting yourself]. We're only listing products that we've used and tried to keep the price range fairly reasonable. I hope these turn out to be the equivalent of those vegan chocolate cupcakes:
Mike's picks: 1. Rapha Merino Wool Long Sleeve Baselayer - $85 As soon as the temperature drops below 50 degrees, a base layer becomes an essential item. I have yet to find one as comfortable as the Rapha long sleeve base layer. Thin enough to be worn under anything, it still keeps me amazingly warm. 2. Outlier Workwear Pants - $180 (Online availability can vary) The Workwear Pants are durable, extremely wearable, and practical – a rare combination in cycling-related gear. 3. Greg Lemond's Complete Book of Cycling - $10 Published way back in 1987, Lemond's Book of Cycling is still a go-to reference book. LeMond is both opinionated and knowledgable, and relates many of the training and fitting tips he learned while a pro in France. 4. Defeet Armskins - $27 Arm warmers are arguably the most versatile piece of apparel in any cyclist's wardrobe. I prefer the wool version of the Armskins - they work in a wider range of temperatures, and even stay warm when wet. 5. The Triplets of Belleville - $11 A classic as soon as it was released, this animated film follows "Champion" as he prepares for the Tour de France (with the help of his grand-mere). The training scenes alone are worth the entire film.
1. Brooks B17S Imperial Saddle - $147.30
The beauty of the Brooks is that unless the receiver absolutely hates Brooks saddles, you don't have to worry about fit because this saddle is going to mold to whomever you give it to. It can be a literal pain in the ass to break in, but once you do, you won't want to ride anything else.
2. Rapha Silk Scarf - $70
Rapha Scarf Fridays. Nuff said.
3. Brooke Siler's The Pilates Body - $12.89
Because cyclists can always use some work on their core. And standing straight is sexy.
4. Superb Cycling Cap and Bianchi Multi-Tool - $40
Choose the teal cap and you'll match the multi-tool. It doesn't have built-in tire levers but I get comments on it whenever I pull it out.
5. Pearl Izumi AmFIB Gloves - $64.99
I actually have the men's version which are a bit big, but I wouldn't trade them for anything. Perfect for the shorter commute or a quick run to the grocery store or to the post office. They'll keep your hands toasty and warm and saved my fingers last winter when it dropped to 0F.
And just for kicks, we're including our dream gift this season. We agreed that it couldn't be a bicycle [that would just be too easy], and not absurdly expensive. As in it had to be within reason; you know, like something under the cost of one of those Victoria's Secret diamond bras [boobs not included]. So if someone loves us a lot, here's what would make us love you [more]:
Mike's dream gift: * Velo Classic Legends of Tuscany tour - $4995 Having already participated in the Velo Classic Spring Classics tour 3 years ago, I have promised myself I will try and make it back on another of these amazing adventures as soon as possible. With so many tour options it's hard to decide, but the lure of the maglia rosa is hard to resist!
Kaiko's dream gift:
* InSide Ride E-Motion Rollers - $795
As if I don't spend enough time indoors, these rollers were featured in the latest issue of Bicycling Magazine and I've been secretly lusting after them since. It's something I'd hesitate to purchase even if I was drowning in dough, but boy wouldn't I love a pair...[although that Tacx Bushido Trainer is looking pretty good, too...and only partially because the Schlecks use them.]
So what are you looking forward to receiving this year?