Review: The #creakybottombracket 2017 Holiday Gift List
We do not own the cover photo. The content is owned by the respective photographers.
(2017) In 2017 we emphasized the bicycle as an escape from a year of stressful headlines. We honestly did not think we would make it this far into the year (the year is not over yet) without some sort of cataclysm. And while we still continue to not really care for holiday lists, we have gotten more and more inquiries through email about certain items we’ve written about. Unfortunately some companies we enjoyed have closed up shop – Lone Wolf Cycling and Curbar to name two – while happily other companies have expanded their trade – Belgian Boys Club comes to mind without hesitation.
In the same format as years gone by our list increases in value. We start out with easy gifts for the cyclist in your circle or for you to discreetly leave on the screen as you head out the door for work. It wouldn’t be a creakybottombracket.com holiday list without including items stored in our clubhouse for when the gang shows up. Shaving accessories, coffee, post-ride libations, and custom bikes can be found listed below. We’ve had our most populated year yet, so we found some new items that make us think, “I’d like that, too.” Well. Let's get to it.
Happy Holidays from the offices of creakybottombracket.com and enjoy our list!
Grounds and Hounds Snow Day Winter Roast ($12.50 USD)
Any time I struggle with a gift idea for someone, I automatically return to the idea of coffee. Most people drink it; most cyclists drink buckets of it. Why not look to Grounds and Hounds Coffee Company who has great coffee and a great cause?
Imagine purchasing coffee for someone on your list only to find out that twenty percent of the proceeds goes to the rescue partner closest to you. Crossed someone off your list and have a portion of that sale go to helping dogs? That is certainly something to feel good about. With cyclists drinking their fair portion of coffee, imagine just how many donations would occur.
It doesn’t stop there. Bounce around their online store to see other offerings such as their three-blend starter kit, their ¾ sleeve shirt, or their own offering of coffee mug. We zeroed in on the Snow Day Winter Roast. We’re hoping for a snowy winter where we can brew copious amounts of coffee after a ride through swirling snow. It’s the possibility of that happening that gets us excited to live in this area. Riding through a snowy forecast to come home to Snow Day coffee by Grounds and Hounds Coffee Company is our idea of a good offseason day. It’s made great by knowing a rescue gets just a little bit of cheer, too.
Mad Alchemy Belgiephile Socks ($14 USD)
When one surrounds his/her life with the road or ‘cross bikes, it is a natural tendency to have a lust for being Belgian. As an American cyclist, it is a natural defense mechanism to demand respect within the global peloton. Show up as a Belgian with shoddy everything and that rider is automaticaly the favorite. Why does it happen like that?
Mad Alchemy has always been a leader cycling accessories such as embrocation (which we had on our list in 2015) as well as extremely stylish kits. We reviewed – and continue to use – their shave cream and shave puck. These guys know how to make great products. Based in New Hampshire, Mad Alchemy produces everything from salves and creams to collaboration clothing and accessories. One item stands out from all the rest for us. We had to throw it on the list.
Read our content long enough and it becomes clear we love Belgian cycling kits. Sometimes the socks are the weakest link. After today we have no worries about the socks coming up short. Mad Alchemy featurs the Belgiephile socks in absolutely vibrant colors. The sock has the traditional three stripes across the cuff atop a beautiful blue. Add in the winged dragon on the back and the look is complete with your favorite Belgian attire. Be careful while shopping on their site, though. You just may find several other items to dress around. It is completely acceptable to let that happen.
Belgian Boys Club Winter High Top Socks (25 Euro)
Speaking of Belgian socks, our friends at Belgian Boys Club have just released a pair for those cold and blustery days. Perhaps if we had these yesterday when it was in the forties and pouring we may have considered riding. People may have driven alongside us and started to ask, “Are you cra…?” only to see the Belgian Lion of Flanders on our person for them to reallocate their comment to, “Say no more.” Satisfied they would drive on.
Satisfied, too, would be the fact our feet would be nice and toasty throughout the ride. Quality winter socks are hard to locate. Most perform well for the first half of one season and then deteriorate beyond that. Belgian Boys Club’s penchant for quality will put your concerns to rest.
You’ll also have a little less to worry about when one considers the reflective cuff (and Lion) on the sock. With the lower level sunlight from the season, it’s normal for yearlong riders to look for every advantage in the visibility department. With companies making visibility a priority Belgian Boys Club jumps in the game with socks that not only keep you warm, but also they’ll help make you seen on the road. Not a bad gift idea when it comes down to it.
Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction's Root Liqueur ($30 USD)
One of the benefits to living in Bucks County is its rich history. Just when everyone thinks we've wrung the towel dry of all possibilities, something pops up and rekindles the Colonial spirit. Take Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction for example. This company zeroed in on colonial spirit recipes. Since clean drinking water is only a recent development in the history of humankind, much of the liquid during the colonial times had some form of alcohol in it.
Enter Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction's Root. Remove the cap and the liquid immediately gives off a root beer scent. That's because this is made using the a Native American recipe from Pennsylvania that preceeded colonial times. In fact, every ingredient in the bottle can be found in Pennsylvania in some form or another. The recipe was the precursor to the modern day cans of root beer in the soft drink aisle. Today it hardly resembles the spirit of centuries ago.
Take a sip and your tongue goes for a ride along flavors that eerily resemble modern day root beer. It then snaps into a whiskey flavor halfway through. Coming in at 80 proof keeps it close to the category of whiskey and rum. They have created their own categories, joining their other concoctions such as Sage, Beet, Snap, and Rhubarb. These are all perfect complements to holiday meals or a post-ride libation with friends. Having one or a couple of these offerings by Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction wrapped up for a friend this holiday season may just make you the talk of the gift-giving circles. Pennsylvania gift-givers beware.
The Copper Hat “The Journey” Grade A Silvertip Badger Shaving Brush ($119 USD)
Shaving products are great because most everyone shaves. The Copper Hat Wet Shaving Supplies recognizes both men and women in their shaving endeavors. With cyclists partaking in their fair share of shaving, it is only natural we include a shave brush on our list.
On our shaving shelf we have only have one brush, and it does the duty of two. It is a knobby brush meant for facial lathering. For those who use a simple coffee mug as a scuttle we don’t need to remind you of bouncing knuckles off the sides with each pass. A longer handle would do the trick. The Copperhat offers a long handled-brush for such an occasion.
What’s great about the wet shaving industry is its obvious choice for cutting down on waste in the form of cartridges and/ or steel cans. The Copperhat stands behind this mentality and offers this brush to help add more to the wet shaving movement.
The Journey comes in silvertip badger fur, perfect for those who have sensitive skin and frequent ingrown hairs. It’s also the first choice for anyone interested in forming a thick lather. The long handle also gives great leverage in turning the hard shave soap into a pillowy thick lather. If you want to impress a cyclist on your mind this holiday season, this may be your secret weapon. Since the website targets men and women shavers equally, be prepared to find yourself shopping around for your own personal needs. I’ve said it before; wet shaving is exactly like a bike shop. You never ‘just take a look.’ A couple years goes by and suddenly you have a whole new part of your personality.
Portland Razor Company Straight Razor (Start at $180 USD)
Speaking of wet shaving, I’ve had a conundrum that has been solved. Straight razors are great but the presence of deep hollows – essentially very thin blades – create havoc for my face. I have relentless stubble. A deep hollow does fine for approximately two shaves before it admits to having met its match. Off to Portland Razor Company it goes to be honed only to have my stubble excited to beat it down again. Sound familiar? Portland Razor Company has just the answer.
I looked around the interwebs for wedge razors. This type of blade has fallen out of common usage in favor of those deeper hollowed, super sharp blades. To get a wedge – essentially a V shape – requires a custom setup. Custom typically means expensive razors.
From the land of Chris King, Portland Leather Company, and Sugar Wheel Works come razorsmiths who create quality wet shaving tools. One can purchase a stock razor or one can start with a stock razor and slowly make one his/ hers. Want a wedge? Done. Want your name etched into the razor? That’s possible. Want unique scales? Portland Razor’s got your back. With a brand-new razor the user knows he/she is the only one who has shaved with it. Using blade etching this purchase goes from something that’s used today to something that’s passed down in the future. That oft-overused line of the gift that keeps on giving applies here. You keep shaving for less and it could be handed down from generation to generation. Try not to put your Strava KOM time on the etching. No one will know what that means in the year 2100 (assuming we’re still here).
Pedal Mafia Limited Edition Flanders Kit ($230 USD)
First. Follow Pedal Mafia on Instagram. These Aussies know how to do cycling. Whether it’s their late model, low riding pickup truck with bikes in the bed or it’s their Ford Mustang with Seasucker racks on the back window, Pedal Mafia is that cool place you weren’t sure to enter as a kid.
This year they offer a limited edition Flanders kit that adheres to the minimalistic style. The all black kit features three white stripes on the jersey with Belgian colors on the zipper. The bibs have the Belgian colors on the right leg seam. The left leg offsets this striping with the Pedal Mafia logo. On the back above the pockets is a negative space Lion of Flanders. Here at creakybottombracket kits become our favorites when the designers have the less-is-better mentality.
Don this jersey at your next group ride and others may just nod in approval. The design is simple that the casual rider will appreciate your selection. The cycling specialist will recognize the homage to Belgian cycling with your selection. Don’t be surprised to find that person queuing up behind you in the paceline knowing just what you’re capable of. Sometimes kits do all the talking.
Entry into the Cycle Adirondacks Cycling Vacation ($1200 USD)
The event is limited to 200 participants. Being a schoolteacher I could make a case for signing up for the third offering of the Cycle Adirondacks experience. It is a one-week jaunt around the six million acre state preserve in Upstate New York. The event is entirely unique, which is why we hope to participate soon.
It is not a race. Cycle Adirondack is an event where participants can regularly ride either a metric century or an Imperial century on six out of the seven days. The event continues its niche existence by offering participants stops along the way to learn about the natural surroundings of the Adirondacks. Further custom experiences involve local start and finish towns welcoming participants with block parties and music.
Take it from me, a resident of the Adirondacks for several years, when the towns welcome participants, they go above and beyond to make the experience memorable. The event’s schedule from August 18-24th is a great time to be in the Adirondack Mountains. Escape the summer’s heat by heading north and exploring roads you never knew existed. The experience comes with a tent service unless you want to bring your own tent. Should you feel tenting (our contribution to the lexicon) is not for you, Cycle Adirondacks has three lodging potentials in the towns of Speculator, Inlet, and North Creek. Consider this your flagship event for 2018.
Spectrum Custom Build by Tom Kellogg (price varies)
The cycling industry operates on a bell curve. That means the standard carbon bike fits 33% of the cycling world perfectly. Another 33% can fit in the bike with a little jostling and bending. The final 33% is basically out of luck and needs to find a custom fitting. But what fits 100% of the cyclists is a custom build that not only fits right, but looks right too. Imagine riding a steel bike that no one else has in the style riders used to sport.
Let’s start with the frame built by Tom Kellogg. Tom used to form the titanium frames for Merlin bikes, so you know he’s on top of quality. Add in components of your choice, let’s go with the fictional company Chris King, and the frame goes from a piece of art to functional art. If your interview said you like to race, perhaps the fit will be aggressive and designed for carbon wheelset clearance. If you said you’re a gravel rider, perhaps the tolerances will allow for wider tires. If your fitting interview stated you want an endurance fit, perhaps the frame will be slightly more upright. The point is whatever you want; a custom build from Spectrum Cycles will produce it.
We once saw Tom Kellogg’s once-per-year tandem roll through a bike shop in Breinigsvile, PA. It was adorned in the Gulf colors with the largest disc brake ever seen on a bike. From that moment on, a deep desire to be part of the Spectrum culture started. We imagined our website’s colors splashed across the steel frame indicating uniqueness. That deep orange, white, and black would create a complementary reveal. Take a Gulf-colored tandem and make it a single bike and we’re sold. Add custom painted carbon drop bars and other accessories and we’ll practice our response of, “Oh this old thing?” to anyone inquiring about our Spectrum frame. But don’t be surprised to line up at the Derby on Sunday to find either multiple Spectrum frames or even Tom Kellogg himself pedaling next to you.