It’s that time of year again. The holidays are here and it’s time to think about how you’re going to convince your favorite bike commuters that they’re loved. And of course, there’s no better way to do this than by buying them stuff! Here’s a list of ideas.
LOCAL BIKE SHOP GIFT CERTIFICATE: This is just for last-minute cop-outs. This gift does not fully illustrate your devotion to your bike commuter. You could do worse, but you can do so much better. Read on.
KEEN AUSTIN PEDAL SHOE, $120: If your bike commuter must clip-in when they ride and they want a normal looking, everyday, non-bikey-looking shoe, then the Keen Austin Pedal is a great daily driver. It’s a men’s shoe, but Keen has the Presidio for women that appears to be equivalent feature-wise. These shoes are SPD compatible and as such, you get the best of both worlds: you can clip-in when you ride and you can walk on wood floors without destroying them. They’re leather; they’re water tight. They have a nice Keen-sized toe box for medium-weight wool socks, and they look normal. They’re comfortable to walk in, too.
RAINSHEILD O2 CYCLING RAIN JACKET, $30: A perennial favorite. Yes, you can spend a ton more money on a much higher quality rain jacket. But no matter what the ad says: the fancy jacket will not “breathe” any better when your beloved cyclist is jamming up the hills of Spokane. Yes, the O2 is delicate. Be sure to note that fact on the accompanying holiday card and the O2 may last your cyclist up to two years. This jacket will become one of your cyclist’s favorite items. It’s great as a wind block, as an emergency shell, and as a rain jacket. It packs up tiny and weighs just over half a pound. And it’s cheap! Slam dunk.
WOOL BASE LAYERS, $25-$85: At a minimum, every bike commuter in the Inland Northwest should have a thin wool beanie-style hat for under the helmet. If your beloved commuter doesn’t have one, then there you go: another slam dunk. Smartwool sells these caps for about $25.
The days of “scratchy wool” are long gone. If the fear of the scratch is keeping your commuter out of wool, then surprise them with an Ibex merino base layer shirt. It’s silly how soft and warm this stuff is. And it doesn’t stink, which pays off for you, too.
RIVENDELL MUSA CYCLING PANTS, $65: If the cyclist on your holiday list is a guy, or a woman that doesn’t mind wearing basic (guy) pants, then you’ve got a lot of good pant options to choose from. A consistently great cycling pant is Rivendell’s MUSA. MUSA is an acronym for “Made in the USA.” These pants are just smart in their details. They were clearly well thought out designs from a daily cyclist: good room in the thigh; deep pockets; reflective bits at the ankles; gusseted crotch; relatively normal looking; and really well made. The latest version of the MUSA pants hold up much better than the earlier versions. And they also dry fast. You must go to rivbike.com to buy them.
GORTEX MITTEN SHELLS, $ DIY: Want to show your love by making the perfect gift for your commuter? Sew them up a nice light set of Gortex mitten shells. Think small, light, simple and then get stitching! The idea with these shells will be to slip over existing light wool or poly mittens. Your goal is to sew up a shell that will keep out the wet and wind in the difficult conditions known as “wet and low 30s.” We’re not looking for gauntlet-style Everest-climbing or Harley-driving shells here.
RACK N BAGS, $50-$200: If the commuter on your holiday list is still using a backpack to schlep their stuff around, you should consider getting them a rack n bag solution. This can be tricky if you’re not a bikey person, since some bikes do not make mounting racks easy. But if you know that your cyclist’s bike can take a rear rack, you cannot do better than the Tubus Fly (about $100). And you can’t put a better bag on the Tubus Fly than an Ortlieb Front Roller (about $100).
If that’s too rich, then find a no-name aluminum rear rack for about $30, and go to Pedals2People and learn how to make bucket panniers for about $20. Bucket panniers are made from recycled food container buckets and are great solutions for bike camping and daily commuting alike.
CUSTOM ELEPHANT BIKE, STARTS AT $2,000: Yes. Buy your beloved a dedicated custom commuter bike. Don’t you think it’s strange that the bike that many cyclists use every single day is their junkiest bike? That their “commuter” is nearly a throw-away heap of bike-shaped object? We’ve profiled Elephant’s Glen Copus in OTM before, but if you missed it, Spokane happens to be home to a really accomplished bike builder that creates beautiful, functional, and super high-value steel bikes. “High-value” in this context means not expensive—not just compared to other customs, but to most quality bikes. If your commuter rides a Frankenbike with zip-tied fenders, duct-taped lights, and a rear rack attached to the seat post, then consider contacting Glen at www.elephantbikes.com.
John Speare grew up and lives in Spokane. He rides his bike everywhere. Check out his blog at http://cyclingspokane.blogspot.com.
Everyday Cyclist, Magazine Article |
The first big snow of the year and I was on the phone with a friend from Spokane who was in Seattle for a business trip where not much business was getting done. “What is wrong with this town? Everything is closed.”
How do you account the difference in snow response in Seattle vs. Spokane? In Seattle even a little snow closes school, shuts down Microsoft and has folks abandoning their cars on I-5. The first snow of the year has shown this is still the case on the Westside of the state. The problems persist even after the great winter of 08-09. Much has been made about how difficult it is for Westside local governments to properly allocate resources for rare major snow events. Some even speculate that’s why Mayor Nickels lost his job. A comment on the Seattle Times website from the November 23rd snow coverage typifies this attitude; “It is shocking how poorly local our municipalities deal with snow and ice.”
But if you dig a little deeper that conventional wisdom that blames government for not doing enough in the Seattle area starts to break down. I asked my sister, who grew up in Spokane but has lived in Seattle for 20 years, about why snow paralyzes things there. “People are kind of crazy,” she says. “Nobody knows how to drive in the snow.”
Another commenter on that same Seattle Times page backs this up; “I attribute the primary reason for my three hour commute to people out on the roads with ill-equiped vehicles and/or no experience driving in extreme winter weather,” says the poster. “It was simply unprepared motorists who made the commute more treacherous for the rest.”
Don’t we have enough Eastern Washington transplants over there? Are all-season, siped tires that expensive? Do they expect government on the Westside to deploy a massive fleet of snow removal vehicles each time it snows two inches?
I’m not the only one wondering these things. Seattle news website Publicola.com recently ran a story entitled “Why the City Should De-Escalate Its Snow Response,” which asked for less “FREAKING OUT”, less salt on roads, and more focus on arterials instead of trying to clear every road down to bare pavement.
“Yay—more snow, no school today,” my son says this morning. Don’t count on it. We don’t freak out enough on this side of the mountains.
Editorial, Magazine Article |
Welcome, winter! Brrrr.
By the time you read this, I will have completed my first half-marathon on November 28 here in Seattle! I could not have done this without the random musical assistance of the following folks: JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, Sammy Hagar, Kelly Osbourne (I said random!), Brad Paisley (I know!), and Rihanna (yesssss!). Real-life support courtesy of my Mom, Dad, sister Erin and pals, you know, also irreplaceable. Thanks!
Away from the self-serving…
Facebook photo-tagging recently alerted me to a lovely cross-state pairing between MON CHÉRI and KORY KRUCKENBERG. You’ll remember Kory from that faaaantastic Karli Fairbanks album a while back, as well as his band Pablo Trucker, and his years spent in Spokane (Mead School District, holla!). Now at the helm of Spokane’s favorite lil’ pop quartet’s latest recorded effort, the results are sure to delight!
The band—CAROLINE FRANCIS, PATRICK MCHENRY, KURT OLSON and BRANDON VASQUEZ—agrees. As front-lady Caroline explained recently via e-mail, “Kory is not only extremely talented, he is so friggin’ nice, and hilarious, and fun to hang out with… When he found out we wanted to record with him he seemed so willing and excited!”
Recording with Kory means travelling to his Seattle studio and changing the dynamic of previous experiences for the band—in most cases, cramming a whole lot of work into a smaller amount of time. But up to the challenge, they were: “The biggest difference [between this time and last time] is how far we travel to record, which means recording A LOT in two days (usually Saturday and Sunday),” Caroline explained. “I love having that timeline though of having to get so much done in two days; it makes us all work hard, but doing it together makes it so much more fun.”
The band, which was recently highlighted on MTV’s music blog following a competition win, hopes to release the album in the spring (recording should be wrapped within a couple weeks). They have two December appearances on the books at the moment: one on the 18th at Huckleberry’s, and another on the 23rd at A Club, as one of Platform’s Thursday nights (highlighted last month, ‘member?).
Speaking of Platform, Patrick Kendrick & Co. bring JAMES PANTS to A Club on New Year’s Eve for what is sure to be a paaarty. But before you NYE-it-up, celebrate some holiday fun-times at the Knitting Factory’s NOIZE 4 TOYZ on December 3 with Lucid, 18 Shades, Character Flaw, Josh Pryor and Vial 8. A new toy gets you in, and the collection of ‘em at the end of the night goes to bringing some BIG SMILES on Christmas morning. Orrrrr, there’s mainstay the OAK RIDGE BOYS, whose show includes classics annnnd a magical Christmas set—also December 3, across downtown at INB Performing Arts Center. WHITE CHRISTMAS runs through the 19th at the Civic Theatre. Local boy MYLES KENNEDY returns to town on the 30th to perform with his band ALTER BRIDGE at the Knitting Factory.
LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST (I hope you’re still there, this is gettin’ good…), on the subject of local boys, Spokanite BRIAN WHITE and honorary-Spokanite ANTHONY STASSI have dropped out of Hockey and are collaborating again with… wait for it… their former SEAWEED JACK band-mate Geoff Doolittle! I will surely keep you posted on the results, and wish the dudes the best on whatever they might be cookin’ up!
Happy Holidays to all!
Crushing Rocks, Magazine Article |