It's that time of year again! The time of year when we road cyclists are inclined to drop unsubtle hints to our nearest and dearest about what we hope to find under the Christmas tree.
We all have different ways of going about this: some of us will casually mention that their winter jersey is looking a little threadbare before nonchalantly adding 'that Castelli one that David Millar advertises looks just soooo cool'. Some of us will leave copies of our favourite magazines wide open with the item we covet ringed in marker pen, with the exclamation 'love this!' scribbled in the margin.
Yes, Christmas Day is looming upon us once again and for the road cyclist Christmas morning can deliver the same crushing disappointment that Mark Cavendish experienced when outsprinted on the Champs-Élysées this Summer. How many of us have excitedly fondled a present, nodding and winking happily to adoring kin, sure in the knowledge that it is definitely those Rapha bib tights you've been longing for, only to watch in bewilderment as a megapack of Primark Y-fronts drop into your lap?
But do our long suffering partners really want to buy us the latest power meters or thermal oversocks? Probably not. Yet in this season of giving, we would hope at the very least they would want to buy you something that reflects your passion for road cycling. And to guide them in their search, the Wheelsuckers team have put their collective heads together to suggest some items that you might not only want, but your non-cycling partners, relatives and friends might actually want to give to you!
Chris Sleath of Edinburgh based printmakers Dynamo Works draws from his extensive library of wood type as the foundation to create stunning hand printed, limited edition prints with a cycling theme. The artistic process starts with a cycling quotation, set in type using wood and metal alloy letter type, which is then enhanced with screen printed bike related graphics and portraits taken from old magazines and catalogues.
It's the human quality of these prints, crafted by the hands of a skilled artisan with an eye for the written word and using traditional printing methods, that really mark these works of art apart from digitally produced prints. The quotations, some Queen lyrics and a tribute to Bradley Wiggins aside, are taken from a bygone age of cycling and meld perfectly with the antique type blocks that Chris uses, which would have been used by typesetters when Henri Desgrange was still ruminating over the route of the first Tour de France!
Printed on high quality 200gsm Stockwell cartridge paper, these original and striking A2 prints really are a unique gift, fit to adorn the wall of any cycling afficionado!
See the current collection of screenprints designed and made by Chris Sleath on the Dynamo Works website. Prices from £40.
Sorry ladies, this is one for the boys! Well, if you are going to shave those guns, make sure you do it properly! This is a bit of advice gleaned from an unlikely source - former pro rider and Team Sky Sports Director, Sean Yates.
You wouldn't expect such an unapologetic hardman to have a feminine side but Yates advocates using a woman specific razor, rather than one for the male chin: "They’re made for the legs, not the face."
Yates is credited with being the brains behind Bradley Wiggins' historic 2012 Tour de France win, so it would be little surprise to learn that Sir Brad benefitted from this nugget of advice too.
We reckon the Nation's favourite cycling Mod would be impressed by the 5 comfort blade system and the 'ribbon of moisture with extra-rich formula for a smoother glide' offered by the Gillette Venus Proskin Sensitive Razor. And if that wasn't enough, then the 'in-shower holder' would definitely be the clincher. If you want to emulate the pros, you have to get the basics right - select the right razor and everything else will simply fall into place.
Available online and at all good Chemists. RRP: £9.99 for the razor and five blades. For far too much information on the Gillette range and for a whole host of shaving tips visit the Gillette website.
Did you cycle an iconic climb this year? Alpe d'Huez or the Monte Zoncolan? Maybe you headed to the Pyrenees and tackled the Tourmalet or ventured a little closer to home, the Hardknott Pass perhaps or Box Hill?
These 9cm high plaster of Paris KM markers are handmade in France and will provide a fitting little memento of your endeavours. Anyone who has cycled on the Continent will be familiar with these white and yellow markers that adorn the verges of the highest peaks and these are faithful reproductions that include the name, the altitude and the road number of the respective climbs.
An ornament, a paperweight or a personal reminder of an epic day in saddle or perhaps a challenge to come? You decide.
Prices start at £13.00. The route markers are one of the many cycling related gifts available from Cycling Souvenirs, who have mugs, espresso sets in famous team colours, prints and t-shirts that will make perfect little gifts or Christmas stocking fillers for the road cyclist!
Rich, smoky loganberry on the nose, raspberry, blackberry and spice on the palette. This is a wonderfully rich Rhône red that hails from the vineyards that abound near the infamous Mont Ventoux in Provence. It's a heady and complex combination of Grenache and Syrah grape varieties, beautifully balanced by master winemaker, Jacques Grange.
This is a robust, ruby coloured wine and one that you would be ill advised drinking the night before you attempt to conquer the "Beast of Provence". We would, however, suggest you put a bottle aside for your victory banquet, and enjoy with a hearty wild boar stew or if you want to continue the cycling them, then pair the Delas with the tongue burning Provençal speciaility, fromage fort du Mont Ventoux.
Available (online only) from Marks and Spencer. Visit Marks and Spencer online for price/stock details.
The northern Spring Classics of cycling have provided some of the most enduring images of professional cycling - grainy black and white photos of tortured riders, covered in mud, fighting both inner demons and slippery cobbles.If you really want to emulate the pros then competing in one of the Sportives based on the Classics is definitely one for the bucket list.
Travel specialists Rpm90 offer a number of packages and bespoke tours in Europe and have come up with the novel idea of providing gift vouchers from £100 up to the full price of one of their trips. They still have some spaces available for their Liège Bastogne Liège Sportive package. This is one of the most epic and demanding Classics and you will get to ride the iconic Sportive on Saturday 26th April, then let Boonen, Cancellara and the rest of the pros show you how to really do it the following day!
The price includes entry into the event, accommodation in a 5 star hotel near the start/finish, dinner and breakfast, ride nutrition and a much needed massage! So if you enjoy cobbles, chips and Belgian beer, get your nearest and dearest to club together and buy you a voucher that will allow you, for one day only, to be a true Flandrian!
Prices for the Liège Bastogne Liège Sportive package start at £495 for a shared room and £695 for a single and does not include insurance and travel to Belgium, though Rpm90 will pick you up from Brussels Airport of Eurostar terminal. Vouchers are valid for 1 year and are presented in a gift box with an Rpm90 cycling cap worth £15 included! For more details on the Liège weekend and their other tours and bespoke packages visit the Rpm90 website.
This might be rather incongruous with this festive time of year and the nature of this post, but as we are all too aware, accidents do happen and in cycling it can be unexpected and sudden.
Whether cycling alone or in a group it is vital to have personal information on board so that relevant information can be relayed to relatives and medical staff. We at Wheelsuckers have long been fans of the innovative products offered by OneLife iD and the Surrey based firm are continually extending their products to compliment their already impressive range.
Now endorsed by professional riders, including Team Sky's Luke Rowe and Marco Pinotti of BMC, OneLife ID offer a range of interactive ID products that allow you to share specific details about yourself and medical conditions that might just be crucial in an emergency.
Whichever product you opt for - and there is plenty of choice ranging from the stylish Squadra wrist bands to a set of stickers, your OneLife iD account automatically comes with the added benefit of a free Mobile Phone ICE screen builder, which contains all your most important emergency contact and medical information. So whenever you have your phone, you also have those important details readily available just in case they are needed.
Our long suffering partners, our friends and family may glaze over as we talk them through our latest Strava stats. They may occasionally laugh at our lycra clad forms as we clatter clumsily out of the family house, but we all know that, deep down, they love us all the more for our cycling passion. They tolerate our obsession and are yet bemused by it too, but they all want us back safe and sound at the end of the day. We would venture that this is the one gift they would value over all others.
More information on all their products and prices are available on the OneLife iD website.
We have long been fans of the Gore Bike Wear range of clothing - a manufacturer that consistently succeeds in fusing effective, innovative textiles, with clever design to provide garments that not only perform brilliantly in the conditions they are meant for, but also keep you looking good too!
For those who err away from classic black or the recent trend for hi-viz, then Gore provide a wide spectrum of colours and designs to suit all tastes. Design is one thing, but it's the level of performance and functionality that is the hallmark of the brand.
The new Ladies Power Jacket is a case in point. Even before pulling this jacket on, it has a weight and feel that oozes quality - you just know it is going to keep you warm on even the most freezing winter rides, yet the Windstopper fabric is surprisingly soft and cosy.
The detailing is impressive throughout too: a high collar, subtle but very effective hi-viz strips, three roomy rear pockets and a zip side pocket with a waterproof case for your mobile and an understated, yet stylish rainbow trip on the cuffs and hem all combine to make this a quality garment.
It comes in four colours - perhaps a little limited given the kaleidoscope of colours on offer with other garments in the Gore stable, but as a winter jacket you will be hard pressed to find one that ticks all the right boxes so emphatically. And the extra bit of good news is that there is a men's version too!
Gore Bike Wear Power 2.0 WINDSTOPPER® Soft Shell jacket RRP: £139.99. Available online or visit goreapparel to see more items from the extensive Gore Bike Wear range and a list of UK stockists.
The keen eyed amongst you will have noticed that professional cyclists now all have personalised bike decals on their frames - a flag of their country of birth and their name. So if you already have the replica jersey and bidon, the shades and the gloves, but you really want to be the 'real deal' then you too can now emulate your favourite team and have your own name and national flag emblazoned on your bike frame, your helmet and wherever else you care to place them for that matter.
Pegatin offers a neat line in sharply printed name stickers, but have recently taken a leaf out of Team Sky's book of 'marginal gains' and launched a range of motivational stickers for your top tube. If the lads at Team Sky need them, then we mere mortals could most definitely do with some too, whether you are flagging in the final stages of the Marmotte or struggling to the local shop for a pint of milk in a downpour.
Pegatin also provides the option of typing in your own, so whether it is the inspirational words of one of your heroes, a rousing poem or your very own prose - you can let your imagination run riot!
Prices start from £9.99 for a basic pack of 10 stickers, though the most popular choice is the full colour flag option, at £16.99, with your name reproduced in 5 each of black and white. The motivational stickers cost £14.99 for a pack of three.
They also offer a discount if you order larger batches, and that could certainly be attractive to teams clubs or groups of riders on a charity ride or holiday.
Visit the Pegatin website for more details and start playing around with some ideas of your own.
Retro cycling chic rarely gets as stylish as this! A modern take on a classic design from the 1960's and early Seventies, this jersey is Made in Italy by the famous manufacturer Santini. This is a top that oozes Italian sartorial flair - wear this and you will be strutting with the same swagger with which Gianni Motta and Marino Basso routinely won races for the Molteni team.
Yet this is not a jersey to be worn off the bike - the fleece backed material makes it perfectly suitable for Spring and Autumn cycling and a full zip, three rear pockets, a small zip pocket and some hi-viz detailing ensure that this is a jersey for the road cyclist who not only wants to look like Franco Balmamion, but ride like him too!
And when you're done riding, you'll look effortlessly cool sipping your macchiato whilst munching a biscotti. Molto Bello! And with sizes ranging from XS to XXXXXXXL (yes, that really is a total of seven X's) you can stuff as much turkey down your gullet and there will be always be a jersey to accommodate even the most festively-challenged road cyclist.
Available from Prendas Ciclismo. Price: £69.95 Online orders available up to the 23rd December using the special delivery option and Friday 20th for (FREE) 1st class delivery.
Is 2014 the year that aero helmets are going to take hold on the road? The Giro Attack is in the vanguard of the type and though they have been embraced by TT riders, their growing predominance in the pro peloton, coupled with some competitive pricing, is a sure sign that they will soon be a common sight on bonces up and down the country.
It's not the lightest helmet on the planet and even Giro admit that their innovation is not suited to climbing in Summer heat, but the Attack gets many plaudits for comfort and cooling and with only a 10% greater drag than their TT specific Selector helmet, you have a product that brilliantly marries high level performance with style, which is not that easy to achieve with protective head gear.
Do you need that extra aero advantage on your club run or sportive? Well, your fellow riders make take some convincing, but if you opt for the version with integrated visor, you are going to look so goddamm bad-ass they would be rather foolish to question your motives!
Available online or check Zyro for UK stockists. RRP: £149.99
Bike cleaner and lubes have historically never been products to get excited about. But all that changed when Dorset based company Muc-Off took these workhorse products and reinvented them entirely.
And from the humble beginnings of the now ubiquitous pink bike cleaner has been spawned a vast range of cleaners, lubricants and polishes for every eventuality. There is no longer any element of your bike or kit that can claim immunity from your some much needed TLC.
Road tested and constantly improved by their team, who just happen to be as passionate about their cycling as they are about soap suds and bike oil, their products have an enviable reputation for getting your gear back to sparkly clean condition.
But what makes Muc-Off's achievement even more spectacular is that maintaining your bike has never been so sexy! Take their range of lubes, for example, which come in a funky, embossed box that could comfortably rub shoulders with aftershaves and cosmetics on the perfumes counter at Boots! Cool design yes, but design that serves a purpose too - those hi-viz lids will mean the caps will go back on, rather than disappear along with all the other detritus on your garage floor!
And when you have finished cleaning your bike, Muc-Off have products to leave you, the cyclist, smelling as fragrant as Victoria Pendleton.
Their Shower Scrub smells so fruity and fresh, that you don't need to be an adrenaline fuelled athlete to enjoy its invigorating effects. And if a sportive or race takes you away from home and you feel the need to freshen up before heading back, then their anti-bacterial Dry Shower Body Wash will allow you to freshen up without the need for water.
They've even been good enough to concoct a product with which to polish your helmet!
Visit muc-ff.com for more information about their range of products and to shop online. The last date to ensure delivery in time for Christmas Day is Friday 20th December.
Californian based company Lezyne have a reputation for producing high quality and excellently engineered bike tools, lights and bottle cages and their RAP LED 14 multi tool is no exception.
The multi tool is built with forged and drawn chrome vanadium tool bits, but it is the edition of a one lumen LED, activated by a on/off twist operation, which shows that the designers appreciate that mechanicals can happen any time and an extra light might just be the difference between getting the show back on the road or hailing a taxi.
The RAP LED 14 comes with a good range of Allen keys, a Phillips and a chain splitter - encased in aluminium side plates and an elastic wrap, which not only keeps the tools tight and clean, but also make it far more comfortable to carry in a rear pocket.
A well thought out little tool that weighs in at a compact 160grams - a cracking little stocking filler!
Can the smell of the landscape through which you ride have the ability to inspire? Well, someone at Rapha certainly thinks so. Their skincare products, concocted using aromatic herbs and plants of Provence, may help to place you in 'the zone' if you are thinking of tackling the infamous Mont Ventoux in the near future.
Rapha may well be onto something and no doubt Sir David Brailsford will come sniffing soon enough, but wherever you are heading in the coming year, whether it's a Continental sportive, a cycling trip with some like-minded friends or you are just taking your bike away with you on your summer
training camp family holiday, then you'll need to pack a few essential cycling toiletries.
And what better way to fly the flag abroad than to kit yourself out with the stylishly presented Rapha Travel set, which features products from their skincare range, all sized down to 50ml so that you can take them as hand luggage.
The set includes shaving cream, post shave lotion and that all important chamois cream. The combined ingredients, including pine, rosemary, patchouli, lemon and juniper berry are so deliciously intoxicating you may even be forgiven for dolloping a spoonful into your morning porridge. Lovely.
Priced at £30, the Rapha Travel Set is available online from rapha.cc
Hennie Kuiper was a gifted all-rounder who in the late 70's and early 80's could mix it up with the very best of them in the mountains or on the flat, amassing some notable stage victories in the Tour and the Vuelta in the process, as well as a smattering of the Monuments and the 1975 Road Race World Championship. Quite a palmarès and the man himself encapsulated the guile and tenacity required to succeed in one perfectly crafted quote: 'Racing is licking your opponent's plate clean before starting on your own'.
This enduring truism is now one of four wonderful cycling quotes adorning a set of exquisitely crafted English fine bone china mugs made by one of the oldest UK potteries near Stoke-on-Trent. Kuiper's words are accompanied by striking artwork inspired by the red, black and yellow colours of the T.I. Raleigh cycling team he rode for between 1976 and 1978.
This is just one of four mugs available either as a set or individually. Bernard Hinault's snarling 'As long as I breathe I attack' is reproduced with a wonderful Team Renault design and the set is rounded off by two famous quotes that resonate in the Wheelsuckers office: Fausto Coppi's 'Age and Treachery will overcome Youth and Skill' and Greg Lemond's observation, 'It never gets easier, you just go faster' - the latter set in a striking La Vie Claire design.
Each mug also comes with a classy little notelet that includes a few more details about the rider, the quote and the inspiration behind the artwork. Whether it's a warming mug of steaming hot Earl Grey, a strong coffee or a green tea to flush out the lactic acid - your post ride brew has surely never looked so good or been quite so inspiring?
Dishwasher safe and sold exclusively by The Handmade Cyclist the mugs are priced at £15 each or £55 for the set of four. And if you have a some wall space available, then the same quotes and designs are available in high quality prints too, starting at £25 for an unframed A3 size. Last orders for Xmas delivery should be placed no later than Friday 20th December.
We road cyclists are all too aware that the devil is in the detail and for some of us this is never more true than when it comes to ensuring that all our accessories are beautifully co-ordinated.
Thankfully the clever people at Endura have done all the hard work for us and produced a box set of their BaaBaa range to ensure we cycle in style this winter! Featuring a pair merino socks, a skullcap and multitube, this is certainly a gift for the discerning cyclist who wants to look good, yet not compromise on performance.
The naturally wicking, breathable merino will ensure you will be cycling in warmth and cosy comfort this winter from head to toe. It is a luxurious gift, but if the Baabaa doesn't get your goat, and why would it when it's a sheep, then the Retro Gift Pack, which includes a stylish retro inspired cap and a couple of pairs of socks, just might be the one for you! And you'll be pleased to hear that both the packs are unisex too!
Available online or visit the Endura website for stockists, but best to check with stores beforehand. The Baabaa Gift pack retails at £34.99 and the Retro pack at £22.99.
This spectacular photograph of Raphael Geminiani descending the Col du Tourmalet in the French Pyrenees during the 18th stage of the 1952 edition of the Tour de France is one of the many wonderful images available from the extensive Getty Images Gallery.
With literally thousands of photographs to chose from - both archival and contemporary - the prints are of fine art quality and come in a variety of options, sizes and papers to suit any budget. The choice on offer is vast - portraits, spectators, the pro peloton and recreational cycling - there is not aspect of cycling that has escaped the lenses of the photographers! The standard lead time for printing photographs is 10 working days (add an extra 10 working days for framing and the Gallery).
Gift vouchers of £25/£50/£75/£100 are also available. Visit the Getty Images Gallery website for more information and the Getty Images archive to discover more about their extensive, world famous collection.
The strapline for SiS is 'Endurance Nutrition. Without Compromise.' If ever there was an emphatic statement of intent then that has to be up there with the best of them. And seeing that their products are widely used in the pro peloton, the Lancashire based sports nutrition experts have every right to hold such confidence in their range. So when you have finished picking over the turkey carcass and start to plan your New Year training regime, you would be wise to select SiS as a training partner, such is their commitment to helping athletes perform at their very best.
Science in Sport's products are designed to help you train, perform and recover quicker and the Endurance Pack is a great way to sample some of the products on offer from this market leading nutrition brand. On special offer over the Christmas period, the pack includes a handful of isotonic gels, a selection of energy, electrolyte and rapid recovery sachets, a couple of GO Energy bars and an 800ml SiS bottle.
The SiS Endurance Pack is widely available online and is available for £6.99 over the Christmas period, a saving of over £10 on the RRP. Visit the SiS website for more information.
Winter collars are a useful garment to have at hand if you are riding through the colder months, thanks to their versatility. They provide immediate cosy warmth and whether worn on the bike or off, they provide a chic accent to your neckline! They also make for a perfect little stocking filler and there are patterns, colours and textiles to suit all needs, tastes and wallets.
Rapha's Winter Collar is made of a soft merino and spandex blend and comes in a range of rich colours, including the upmarket brand's signature pink.
The Endura BaaBaa Merino Tech Multitube is made of merino wool so is naturally soft on the skin, provides excellent breathability and odour resistant too. Snug enough to wear under a helmet, the multitube comes in black, deep pink and a striking ultramarine (right).
Exclusive to Wiggle, dhb's Buff® comes in three colours (blue, red and black) and features a subtle design incorporating the dhb logo. It's highly breathable and should ensure your neckline, nose and ears are kept as warm as toast on a winter ride, but if you want a little bit of extra protection, dhb also have a hi-viz reflective buff too.
Rapha's winter collar costs £25 and is available online at rapha.cc. Endura's Baabaa multitube is available online. RRP: £13.99. Visit endura.co.uk for stockists. Both of the dhb's Buffs are available via Wiggle. Price: £12.99
If you love your bike so much you could eat it, then now you can, thanks to Foska's Pasta di Bici. Made in Italy by Arte & Pasta using semolina, spinach and tomato, what better way to carb load before that big winter ride than gulping down a bowl of these beautiful little works of gastronomic art.
A 500g bag of Pasta di Bici costs £5.95 and can be bought directly from foska.com or instore at branches of Evans Cycles nationwide (check availability first) and Action Bikes and Cycle Surgery, both in London.
As anyone who has slipped into a pair of Assos bib short s will testify, the Swiss manufacturer takes the comfort of the road cyclist very, very seriously indeed. But there concern for the backsides of the riders who chose to wear their products does not end there and a tub of their soothing Chamois Cream will ensure you will not have to endure any potential discomfort in those delicate areas during (and after) a long day in the saddle.
With active ingredients to reduce friction and inflammation, and cooling menthol that is long lasting even over a long period at a high tempo, it is no surprise that this cream is the choice of many in the pro peloton. If you find a tub of this in your stocking, then you'll know that your partner really does care about you too!
Available online or visit Yellow Ltd for UK stockists. RRP: £13.99
It's not often that a humble bike pump walks away with an international design award, but that is what the Birzman Zacoo Tiny Tanker managed to achieve when it swaggered out of the coveted International Red Dot Design Awards in Germany earlier this year with the gong for Best Design.
We'd be the first to agree that Birzman produce some exquisite looking bike tools that could easily stand on a shelf in your garden shed or adorn your mantelpiece, but the Tiny Tanker is not just an object of beauty. Both presta and schrader compatible, this highly polished alloy/composite pump can reach a pressure of 220 psi without exerting too much effort, which is impressive given it's slim, minimalist lines.
Summarising their decision to award Birzman the coveted prize, the Red Dot jury highlighted the 'innovative valve technology and the use of high-quality materials [that] are the outstanding features of this compactly designed floor pump'. Praise indeed from an organisation governed by the motto “In search of excellence”.
We couldn't not feature a bike on this list, but it had to be something just that little bit special. So, if you have been really good this year, and we are talking Nelson Mandela/Mother Teresa territory here, then a custom build from one of the World's most renowned frame builders might be heading down your chimney on Christmas night!
Bob Parlee founded his company a little over 10 years ago with the simple goal - to produce the most sublime road bikes that would perform at the very highest level. Designed with an almost obsessive level of detail and using cutting edge technology (Parlee has said himself that he is "an engineer, not a designer") the Z3 is the manifestation of that quest and with a price tag just shy of £6,000 for a custom built frameset in any colour you desire, this really is a true thoroughbred of road bikes.
Oxfordshire based company Ubyk is one of only a handful of UK distributors of Parlee in the UK and the team are convinced you would be hard fetched to find a faster bike than the Z3 - all the more impressive given its traditional look.
And if you want to ensure that every aspect of the bike is light and of the moment, the Ubyk boys suggest you round off the build with a Meilenstein wheelset (a snip at £4K), a Dash carbon saddle (which you can customise to match your Z3 frame of course) and at £70 the Edelhelfer bottle cage is an absolute steal!
Oh yeah, and don't forget that with the Shimano Di2 electronic groupset
you your partner will be having to fork out an eye-watering £12,000 for a bike that weighs in at about 5.8 kilos!
Handbuilt in Beverly, USA, Parlee produces 100% of every bicycle they sell - even the carbon bottle bosses are made in-house! This is all to ensure that nothing is overlooked in production and guarantees that every bike is, quite simply, perfection on two wheels. As James Heath, Director at Ubyk points out about the Parlee Z3: 'Never before has a frame of this calibre been available with so many customization and ride tune options.'
So, you have to ask yourself: "Have I been good?!"
Don't forget to check out our Christmas Books Guide too!
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