I don’t know about your family of course; our family, or families (my side and Mrs. CA Alps’ side) though, do the name-drawing-gift-exchange thing. That means list exchanges with your “gift-partner” in various forms and formats – some of us text ’em; some of us email ’em and some members of the family (pointing my virtual-finger at you bro) just don’t cooperate at all – no list provided.
YOURS truly keeps a perpetual wish-list going, with links for ease of shopping, so I can provide it at the drop of a helmet. It’s also a good way to keep track of things that I know I’ll likely have to buy for my fine-self; some of the things we bike riders need or want are just too expensive for those dispensation-dealing limits.
ALONG those lines I thought I’d provide you with a glimpse of some of the items I’ve spoiled myself with, a couple of which have really made big impacts on my riding.
Specialized’s Power Pro Saddles
AT up to $275 a pop they are pricey, and so I’ve had to pace myself budget-wise, but I think they are the best saddles around. Short-nosed, with an integrated saddle bag option, I’ve purchased one for each of my bikes, most recently the Power Arc Pro Elaston for my eMTB. I did a review of the saddle a couple years ago so you can get some more details in that post.
ABOUT two years later I am still just as impressed with these saddles as I was when I first docked my derriere onto one. More importantly, the saddle has made an impact on my riding: no more numbness or chaffing and a better position on the bike resulting in more comfort and power over the long run.
Giro’s Synthe MIPS II Helmet
HOW many helmets do you have? That’s a question that my bud ‘Toph recently posed. The answer? Five, all but one of which are Giros. Not all helmets fit all noggins the same, and mine, defined by my nephew as a big-hat head (he’s a supply officer for the U.S. Navy) prefers the bigger-bucketed Giros. I’ve got a lot of dome above the ears and so the deeper-dish helmets are what I need. I’ve gone through quite a few of these and am thankful that Giro has maintained (and improved on) the line for many years.
YES you need to replace your helmet regularly, so if you, like me, have a considerable cranium to insert into said helmet consider spending the ~$200 ducats and getting one of these bad boys.
Lake’s CX 400 Line of Shoes
MY big ol’ feet (50 euro size) are hard to fit. Before I discovered Lake’s CX402 (the 403 pictured above is the latest iteration of the line) I was a Sidi devotee. Years ago, when I had my first bike fit, I learned that I had my cleats too far forward and so my bike-fitter suggested Speedplay pedals because the Sidi line of shoes that I rode at the time did have a special plate that would allow for even more setback.
AFTER riding that set up for a few years, Josh, my gearhead at Competitive Cyclist, turned me on to Lake’s CX402 because it had a Speedplay (4-bolt) shoe. Bolting the cleat directly onto the shoe substantially reduced that stack height and made walking on the shoe much less wobbly.
COMBINE that with heat-moldability and those oh so supple kangaroo uppers and you’ve got a shoe that could change your cycling (and MTB) life, especially if you’ve got unique foot-size needs like moi. With an approximate $500 price point it’s not a choice that should be made lightly but if shoe issues have been challenging for you the Lake’s are definitely worth a try.
Garmin’s Varia RVR315 Rearview Radar
THIS little piece of equipment has made the most substantial impact on my riding this past year and it’s surprisingly inexpensive IMHO. The RVR315 goes for about $150. Garmin does produce other variations of this radar, including the newest, the RCT715, which has a light and a rearview camera, but even for this Inspector Gadget that’s one or two features too many.
BATTERY suck is another consideration. That light and camera could reduce battery life faster than the Manx Missle sprints in the TDF and on longer rides that would be no bueno.
NOW in the interest of full disclosure I didn’t buy this unit. My buddy Rich had an extra and browbeat me (nicely) into making a trade with him for it. He got a stunning Pedal Mafia vest (check out our shop) and I in turn picked up this little wonder.
IT interfaces with my Wahoo and other devices (e.g., Garmin head units and watches) and gives a visual cue as to the speed at which the vehicle, or vehicles, is/are approaching. It also beeps and provides both audio and visual all-clears. Additionally, you can set up vibration alerts.
I’VE tested it out now for quite some time and my neck is much happier. Sure, there are times I still feel the need to look around my shoulder but not nearly as often. I’ve learned to trust that radar; it’s made me even more relaxed on the road, and it picks up bikes too so if you’re racing you can “see” the competition coming.
PERFECT for riding here in the California Alps! I can see where it might be slightly aggravating when used in high-traffic areas, however, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking of making the radar-leap.
THAT’S a wrap!
SO there you go…Butt, head, feet and air. Something for each of the important parts and a bit of tech. to help you keep those parts safe.
HAPPY Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Felice Navidad and Happy New Year. Feel free to spoil yourself whether you celebrate any or all of these holidays. You deserve it, right?