November, the flamme rouge month and before too long Santa will be shuffling his way down our respective chimneys. The more organised of you out there may have already compiled an extensive Christmas wish list and despatched it to the North Pole. If, however, you've ever had to feign enthusiasm for a pair of Rabobank bib tights or still feel acute embarrassment when other cyclists comment on that Noddy bell that adorns your handlebars, then you may need to provide those who love you most with a few suggestions over the next few weeks.
If we are honest with ourselves, we all probably have a little too much lycra in our wardrobe and there is only so much you can spend on your bike in a given year, so rather than suggest items that will have your nearest and dearest rolling their eyes in despair, our list (hopefully) includes a few things that they will actually WANT to give you!
And, more importantly, you might actually WANT to receive!
2012 has been a bumper year for quality cycling books and it all kicked off in the Spring with the publication of not one, but two biographies of the great Eddy Merckx. Daniel Friebe's rollicking biography Eddy Merckx: The Cannibal is a warts and all portrait of arguably the greatest rider that ever graced a bike. Friebe presents Merckx as an enigmatic man with his own very unique set of frailties and weaknesses and a little more human than the myth sometimes suggests. It is a wonderful portrait of a gifted cyclist and the age he was competing in and eclipsed the well researched, though more fawning biography by William Fotheringham, Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike.
Photographer, artist (and Wheelsuckers member) Mark Fairhurst produces cycling prints with a wonderful retro, Art Deco feel, recalling the spirit of the golden age of cycling and featuring some of the most iconic races and climbs in cycle lore. Prices start at £30 for an A2 size print, but Mark can also supply a ceramic china mug with any of his designs for £12.95 if your budget is limited. He also has a few quirky Bradley Wiggins inspired t-shirts too! Available from Zeitgeist Images.
For those of us who compete in cycling events, particularly in the hotter months, it is never fun having to endure a car ride home after a sweaty day in the saddle. Salvation, however, comes in the form of Chapeau! Dry Shower Gel which is perfect if you do not have access to running water. Simply rub on to the areas you wish to clean and then wipe off with a towel and voilà, you are good to go! It will greatly reduce the chance of any bacterial infection occurring and is even ideal for removing warm up oils and chamois cream. It won't soothe your aching limbs, but your fellow passengers will love you all the more for using it!
Eloquent, expressive, poignant and engaging: words that describe the writing of Michael Barry, the former US Postal and Team Sky rider who only recently retired from the sport, leaving under that dark cloud cast by the USADA report into doping. Le Métier
roughly translates as 'the craft' and Barry wonderfully evokes the dedication, the agonies and the life of the professional cyclist through the Seasons. The passage where he recounts off season rides with David Millar in the mountains that surround them in Girona will make you want to take your bike out on a cold December morning. The description of racing the Classics will remind you of the inherent dangers that the professional cyclist must endure daily. His honest evaluation of the role of the domestique- in which Barry excelled - will leave you full of admiration for the many cyclists who toil selflessly, often anonymously, for the good of the team.
Put aside your personal thoughts on the authors admission of his doping past, as this book is an exceptional read, revealing much about the demands of the pro peloton. First published in 2010, Le Métier features the beautiful and evocative photography of Camille. J. McMillan. (RRP: £30.00)
Bringing a touch of style to your post ride beverage, this stylish Bone China Cyclist Mug by award winning designer Jacky Al-Samarraie, is part of a range of mugs featuring iconic sports images. Screen printed and decorated in Staffordshire, the mug comes boxed and can be complimented by a coaster in the same design. Dishwasher safe too! Available from The Art Rooms for £10.
The bike light market is a competitive one, especially for an effectivet light that works for both the commuter or the road cyclist who needs to have a light handy if light levels drop.
From the stylish Lezyne brand comes the non-rechargeable Femto Drive LED, which is a very well thought out and durable design. Made out of aluminium, this small (29g), compact light has a 15 lumens output. Available as a front, rear or pair, the Femto has FIVE modes, including the innovative strobemode (essentially a pulsing light). Easy to fit and operate, this is definitely a light that will get you seen, though not one to guide you home in the dark. At £12.99 if bought individually or £21.99 for the pair, it is also inexpensive for a such a neat and funky little light. But watch out, your kids will want it!
From the author of last year's wonderful history of the Giro d'Italia, Maglia Rosa, comes this touching portrait of the most iconic of all Italian cyclists, Fausto Coppi. Coppi: Inside the Legend of the Campionissimo is richly illustrated with many evocative and previously unseen photographs that brilliantly capture the man and his era and simply woven together by testimonials from the people who knew Coppi best - former team mates, gregarios and fellow professional cyclists. It's a heady combination that creates a rich picture of the man known as Il Campionissimo. (RRP: £30.00)
Lest we forget, it really shouldn't be all about the bike! Hailing from the chalk slopes of Mount Ventoux, this feisty little Rhône, La Vieille Ferme Côtes du Ventoux 2011 Domaines Perrin, will provide the perfect accompaniment to your Christmas cheese! 'A warm, elegantly structured, spicy red with intense jammy blackberry fruits' - but let's not worry too much about that, because we all know that after a couple of glasses you'll be regaling your elderly aunt about your latest Strava KOM. Available from Majestic Wines (Price £7.99. Buy 2 Rhône wines under £20 and save 20%).
This photograph of riders in the 1964 Tour de France taking on fresh supplies during the stage between Toulon and Montpelier is one of the many wonderful images available from the extensive Getty Images Gallery. With access to the world's largest collection of images, both archival and contemporary, your biggest problem will be deciding which evocative cycling image you chose to hang on your wall. The prints are of fine art quality and come in a variety of options, sizes and papers to suit any budget. The standard lead time for printing photographs is 10 working days (add an extra 10 working days for framing). Gift vouchers of £25/£50/£75/£100 are also available. Visit the Getty Images Gallery website for more information.
If you want an affordable, easy to use camera to record your rides, then look no further than the DogCam Bullet HD WIDE. Measuring only 8cm and a little over 2cm in diameter but packing 720p definition, this camera punches well above its weight and comes ready to roll with the battery, recorder, camera and microphone all contained within the small unit. The pack also contains a mount suitable for helmets.
The Dogcam comes with a 4GB SDHC card and a helpful LED light that lets you know when you are recording. Download, editing and recharging is simple and easy. And don't let the weather put you off either as the unit is waterproof down to 10 metre - more than enough to deal with the worst that Mother Nature is going to unleash on you!. Available from Dogcam Sport Price: £99.95.
Essentially a collection of essays by the French writer and journalist Paul Fournel, Vélo offers an insight into the sport that will resonate with everyone who shares Fournel's passion for cycling. Many aspects of cycling are touched upon, from one's first tentative attempts to balance, through to old age - a journey he takes with his elderly father cannot fail to move. Cycling, in the hands of Fournel, becomes a metaphor for life. On climbing Mount Ventoux he writes: 'It's yourself you're climbing. If you don't want to know, stay at the bottom'. Each essay is short, rarely more than a page and many illustrated with the quirky illustrations of Joe Burt.
Vélo is a book that you can dip into at will, and should you ever doubt your desire to ride, then reach for this little gem. Published by Rouleur (RRP: £21.00)
Though they sell a range of hi-viz clothing and accessories, it was the Polite Cycling Waistcoat that caught the eye and the testimonials suggest the jacket does cause traffic to give you that little more respect! This is as close as you can get to imitating a police officer without it being an offence. Clever. Coming in a range of sizes, the jacket is fully adjustable and costs £24.99 from High Visibility.
Rapha is the marmite of road cycling and those that have a loathing for the upmarket clothing brand would prefer to cleanse their body in caustic soda than luxuriate in the suds from a bar of Rapha Soap. Inspired, no less, 'by the olive groves that are abundant near Mont Ventoux'. (I kid ye not!). Made using the aromatic herbs and plants of Provence, the soap is rich in natural oils, transforming the shower experience of the Rapha aficionados out there into an almost spiritual event. It can also be used as a stock cube. OK, I made that bit up, but it can be used to wash your Rapha leather gloves, which is so very Rapha! And at only £7.00 it is one of the few products from the brand within eveyone's budget! Available via the Rapha online shop.
Hope you've all been good in 2012 . .
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