2011 christmas gift guide for the female cyclist

Less than a week until Christmas, and derailed by the shock of Kim Jong-Il's death, I'll understand if you haven't bought that definitive, perfect present for the female cyclist in your life. Be it wife, girlfriend, mother, sister, or friend, here's a quick list [you're extra lucky if you're in Japan for some of these items] for the last-minute shopper...
If she trains through the winter...
Pearl Izumi Battery-Operated Heated Gloves and Booties

Available in Japan, these battery-operated lobster-claw gloves and booties are Pearl Izumi's latest winter product. Heating panels keep fingers and toes cozy enough and there are three levels of warmth you can choose from. Gloves and booties cost 15,540yen apiece, but if your giftee rides hard through the winter, these just might be worth the hefty price tag.
Craft Zero Extreme Women's Base Layer

Gifted a Craft base layer last Christmas, I am not embarrassed to say that I lived in it for the duration of an extremely cold, Boston winter [is that redundant?]. The new Zero Extreme looks even warmer and more comfortable. Being machine-washable doesn't hurt either...because who wants to hand-wash yet another item after a cold ride?
Sufferfest Training Video

Because sometimes a girl just wants to stay inside. And do intervals. You know?
If she likes to ride in the city...
Nantucket Bike Baskets

Gorgeous and adorable, I would happily buy a city bike just to get one of these baskets. I'm partial to the Jetties collection, which allows you to release the basket [which comes with a handle!] and stroll through a farmer's market in style.
Outlier 6-foot Scarf

What casual bike outfit is complete without an Outlier item? The long, merino scarf by the masterminds behind this awesome brand combines light-weight comfort and colors to lust after. One look and you'll want one in each color for yourself, too.
Pearl Izumi City Ride Winter Gloves

When I first saw these gloves, I imagined them curled around mustache bars on a stately yet simple city bike. Casual enough to be deceptive, but functional enough to keep digits comfortable, I wish I had had these instead of my leather, cashmere-lined gloves which I half destroyed by using them as riding gloves last winter. [Available only in Japan.]
And if you're looking to splurge...
Garmin Edge 800 GPS

It seems everyone has one of these, and for good reason. If the cyclist in your life loves to discover new rides but has a tendency to get woefully lost, this just may be the ultimate gift. With a waterproof screen and the ability to conjure up a phantom rider to ride at your "goal parameters," the only thing this doesn't do is tell you to stop for good coffee. But you already knew how to do that, right?
Have a great Christmas, guys!

christmas mornings and the rapha 500

My sister loves to sleep.
This fact is not only well known amongst her friends, but might go so far as to be a distinguishing feature. It's not that my sister loves to sleep in after drinking her way through most of the previous night with friends, or wakes up at a respectable hour and chooses to go back to bed, hung over. My sister's sleep is much more intense, probably requires extensive training, and is an event that should be included in the Olympics. Getting up at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon might be an early "morning," and calls are not allowed before noon, at the earliest. Flailing arms [and sometimes, fists] would fly in[to] the face of anyone brave enough to attempt to wake her [yes, even, once, my mother's].
Yet my addicted sleeper of a sister has consistently made one exception to the rule. And that was always Christmas morning.


The anticipation familiar to everyone who has had parents loving enough to give gifts at this time of year, my sister made a practice of getting up at what I would later come to refer to as "the ass crack of dawn." Long after I abandoned the practice of jumping out of bed and racing to the tree, my sister would scuttle into my room, wide-eyed and awake [for once],
"Kaiko, Kaiko, wake up! It's Christmas!!!"
I would do the equivalent of playing dead, hoping my unresponsiveness would discourage her. It never worked - she would shake me like a cat ripping gleefully into a small and helpless rodent - but thankfully college seemed to mellow out my sister's ability to rocket out of bed at 5.30am on Christmas morning. And after a few Christmases spent apart, I'm not even sure her internal Christmas clock is still working.
As annoying as it was then, though, this year, I almost wish my sister had kept up that practice with the early Christmas morning wake up calls. Because with a road bike - my very very first - on the way, and all the little parts of it coming together [or at least sitting in a cardboard box at NYC Velo], even with snow on the ground, I would gladly rise too early to ride the crap out of that new frame. And if the prospect of a new bike wasn't enough to get me outside into the freezing cold, there was the idea [or hope] of doing the Rapha 500.


The concept of the Rapha 500 is to ride 500km [or 310.7 miles] in the seven days from December 23rd to December 30th. A feat that might not be possible to attempt if you are 1. employed or 2. have a life, it seemed like the perfect way to mitigate the damage to my arteries from my own holiday plans to inhale my weight in Christmas food and cookies [mostly cookies]. It's a fair bit of riding, and it would be difficult to accomplish without riding nearly every day of that week, but being 1. mostly unemployed and 2. lacking a life, with 3. a new road bike on the way, it seemed like a great way to get my lazy ass on the road before the new year. Besides, the first 100 people to complete it get a really cool patch!
Can you tell I always wanted to be a Girl Scout? I did. I made it to the Brownies and then either got kicked out or couldn't figure out how them bitches roll and gave up. Probably the latter.


Anyway, the problem is that with those holiday plans to devour cookies smack in the middle of plans to build up my beauty, [thankfully, perhaps, because, let's face it, I have zero proper winter gear to do longer rides in] those fantasies of getting up on Christmas Eve to churn out 70 miles [and then doing it again...and again...and again...] are not likely to materialize. I suppose I could be shamed into doing it trying it [and killing myself] on my single speed, but that idea is currently bordering on "retarded," because what kind of idiot risks life and limb doing that when said idiot will have a proper road bike in a few days' time?
Not this one [surprisingly, for once]. But because I love to live vicariously, I'll be checking up on photos, blogs, rants, and commentary on everyone else's 500. And don't you worry. That new frame's gonna get 500km on it in no time...just maybe not from December 23rd to December 30th of this year.

bike shop christmas

As per the usual morning routine, I grabbed my eyeliner pencil yesterday morning, unsheathing the magic black wand that helps accentuate the eyes that I don't have. One eye squeezed shut with the accompanying eyebrow raised, hand poised, leaning in towards the mirror...
I stopped. Who was I going to need this for? The exam proctor???
The pencil got capped and tossed back into my make up bag. Besides, I figured that looking absolutely haggard would keep me from hanging out anywhere on the way home.
I should have known better. I mean, I do know better...but despite my age, I'm still recovering from junior-high-nerd-status and can't resist the opportunity to hang out with the cooler kids. Bags under my eyes, skull still freshly throbbing from the effects of a tax law exam, sweaty from being overdressed for the warmer afternoon weather, and with no eyeliner on, I bounced into Cambridge regardless.


And found that not only were all the cool kids working there yesterday, so was the infamous [and slightly intimidating] Mr. Croth. I got to bask in his vicarious cool for a grand total of five minutes before he jetted off in those rocking red gloves and the giant Ortlieb bag that was made to smuggle small children into the country. Meanwhile, customers came and went, Jason had his nose buried in paperwork and I started to feel bad skipping around and just being in the way.


Until, of course, Dan came in from the service door, announcing a shipment of bike goodies that Pete described was "as big as a Christmas tree." And indeed it was. There were countless boxes of...everything. Taped and tied together, then wrapped in a plastic cocoon, all it was missing was a big red ribbon. It was like Christmas morning; for once, the bags under my eyes and general haggard appearance seemed appropriate for the occasion. And with the energy born out of unexpected surprises, I pitched in a hand, carrying and ripping open the plethora of boxes.



It was awesomely fun...the best part being that I didn't even have to clean up or organize the huge pile of everything. I left two hours later, secure in the knowledge that Cambridge is currently fully loaded with pretty much everything I happen to currently need. Tubes in every size imaginable? Check. Wicker baskets? Check. Freewheels? [Yes, freewheels.] Check. Cookies? Probably.
Well, okay, maybe they're not stocking any mini road bikes with my name written all over it. But I'm working on that. Maybe, hopefully, for Christmas.