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Cyclist Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again: People realize they need to find gifts for the cyclists in their lives, and panic ensues. Well, fear not – the second annual Cycle Oregon Gift Guide is here in the St. Nick of time, and there’s no shortage of cool new stuff this year.

Last year I started off with a list of consumables that cyclists always need, like spare tubes (road bikes typically use 700 x 18/25 tubes), CO2 cartridges, sports gel, chamois lube and Earth-friendly and expensive-cycling-clothing-friendly detergent called Penguin Sport Wash. Well, guess what? Cyclists still need these things, and they’re still great choices. And I’ll probably keep carrying on about the importance of knee warmers for cold Cycle Oregon mornings until I stop seeing nekkid knees all over the place.

Last year I also mentioned the Garmin 800 bike computer, which is still the king of the GPS bike computer hill. However, Garmin is going to replace it in 2013 with something cooler – or at least newer – so that might not be the best choice right now. In addition, it turns out not everyone has the need, technical prowess or interest in plotting their courses in advance on their home computers and then loading them into the 800, which is something you need to do if you want turn-by-turn guidance for your ride. If all you want to do is record your data for download to social sites like STRAVA, or review your course and stats after the fact, the new Garmin 200 is a much smaller, simpler and more elegant choice – and it’s also a tiny fraction of the cost.

Many Cycle Oregonians are avid bike commuters, and there are some very cool lights available these days. The Light & Motion Urban 550 is small, light and puts out a respectable 550 lumens. It also features sidelights, which is another plus for commuters. It’s rechargeable via USB. Speaking of sidelights, Xfire’s Bike Lane Safety Light is a taillight that has a pair of lasers that project two lines on the asphalt on either side of the rider, creating a virtual “bike lane” a few feet in length. The laser will not cut the hood of any car that tries to enter your personal space, like a hot knife through butter (perhaps next year), but it does provide a nice visual reminder for a distracted driver to give you some room.

If you’re looking for something small, top-tube bags like the Aero FuelBox or the Sunlite Bento Bag are always popular with Cycle Oregon Riders who don’t want to keep things like cell phones in sweaty jersey pockets (though I drip sweat all over my top tube too). The Camelback Big Chill water bottle is another good call. Someone left one behind in the Blogmobile, and I’m glad they did, because these things really do keep water cool for quite a while longer than a standard bottle. Apparently these are the official water bottle of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda, so they will probably make you fast, too.

If you have money to burn and really want to score points with someone who has a taste for high-end hotness, Campagnolo has finally come out with its electronic power shifters. I purposely haven’t read much about them, and I absolutely haven’t laid hands on them, because I’m terrified I’ll want them and I know for sure I don’t need ’em and can’t afford ’em. Rumor has it that they perform just as well as their Shimano counterparts – just a tad more elegantly, which is pretty much how it has always been. They almost certainly cost more than most complete bikes, but if you’re looking for the ultimate gift for the cyclist who has everything, this might just be it.

One more item that isn’t cycling-related but can sure come in handy at Cycle Oregon is a portable USB charger, which is nothing more than a big rechargeable battery that can be used to recharge portable electronics like smartphones or GPS devices multiple times before running out of juice. At most campsites, outlets are few and far between, and, while there are always places to get a charge, sometimes it’s nice to have power in your tent.

Happy Holidays, and see you at Kickoff.

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