Review: The #creakybottombracket 2018 Holiday List
Cover photo is lifted from the site Riding the Catskills. We do not own the photo. Please visit the site to support a fellow cyclist. Furthermore, we do not own any of the photos on our holiday list. Please support the companies listed.
This is the year the creakybottombracket.com office will take Lexus up on the idea of purchasing a car as a gift. Why not? We’ll just put a purchase order in and wait patiently for delivery. According to their commercial this is commonplace, and after watching sports car racing at Lime Rock in Connecticut we have just the livery for the team car.
In all seriousness a holiday list is difficult for a sport rooted in warmer months. I used to enjoy the holidays playing hockey. Equipment gifted could be put to immediate use. In the cycling world some items will get instantly muddy across the remaining cyclocross dates or shelved until a more appropriate time comes about. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen overanxious receivers force a scenario and ride around in new bibs, knees exposed, in frosty conditions. Of course you’re not cold.
While we wait for 3M to finish wrapping the company car, have a peek at our 2018 holiday wish list. We think it’s our best one yet. Before we get to it we want to give thanks for making this our most read year by a long shot. And before it gets away from us: Happy Holidays!
Gift Card to the Local Bike Shop ($ Any)
I was advised early in life to consider a profession that is reluctant to mechanization. Don’t pick a career that can be endangered by a robot. Some have said unemployment is the direct result of machines replacing humans. That pesky little device people check approximately seventy times per day has put many businesses asunder, too.
Bike shops are hardly immune to the mechanization of the Internet. Consumers spend hours trying to find the best deals when they could have loaded up the car and hit up the local bike shop. The local shop supports the community in remarkable ways. They fix every bike in town, that much is obvious. But did you know a lot of bike shops give back to the community through sponsorship and volunteering? Even non-cyclists benefit when shops provide sponsorship or volunteers for the town 5K. Many shops encourage youth to get involved in the shop and out of.
They are also the central location of all things cycling. Group rides leave from there. Friends will ‘meet at the shop’ then head out into the surrounding countryside for rides. Local bike shops are on the shortlist of places people just ‘pop in to see what’s new’. So why not support them with a local bike shop gift card? No one ever spends the exact amount on the card so the shop will see dividends. While you’re picking up a card or two for a significant other poke around. You may just want to see ‘what’s new’ too.
Rescue Project RP Socks ($17 USD)
It’s not everyday we find a gift that gives twice, but our article about the Rescue Project kit has us excited about their new line of DeFeet six inch socks. Buy any apparel from the Rescue Project store and ten percent of the purchase price goes to a shelter of your choosing. That means buying a gift for someone is also gifting money to a shelter.
We have reviewed numerous DeFeet socks and find them to be exciting accessories to any cycling kit. Rescue Project’s RP socks feature their German shorthaired pointer logo in celeste with accent lines to make the design pop. Match it with their celeste one-off jersey to add to the project’s approach of helping shelters around the United States.
Rescue Project has used several cycling kit companies in the past few years as suppliers to their ever-changing kit designs, but selecting DeFeet as a sock designer is a partnership that could go for quite a while. At one of the lower priced items on the list you may find yourself convinced to buy two pairs of socks: One for that person on your list and one for you. Each purchase helps, so why not?
Drive Coffee Le Mans Roast ($18 USD)
Naturally, affixing a Ford GT40 leaves very little room for error. When a friend of our publication forwarded Drive Coffee’s social media feed to us, we were excited yet cautious. Was this coffee that comes in oil cans a gimmick? We had to try it out for ourselves.
Follow this page long enough and it is made plain there are several loves: cycling, ice hockey, and proper motorsports. The sound of an IMSA racecar going by stops us in our tracks. Indy cars and Formula One cars ignite fire in our eyes. Watching Drive Coffee’s unique delivery video involving a Ford GT40 driver who hands over coffee (California only) is something to behold. It’s obvious we love the Gulf livery; I mean look at our colors. So earlier this year we ordered two oilcans of coffee. It was gulped in a few short days.
If part of gift giving is presentation Drive Coffee has the process covered. Their roasting schedule is announced on social media. The beans - roasted on Fridays – were posted shortly thereafter. As with other quality roasters, Drive Coffee’s beans has a controlled acidity with an incredible and enjoyable flavor. This is a gift that could see a cup slid your way. Or better yet, buy extra beans. The oilcans keep the recently roasted beans fresh. Don’t say we didn’t warn you when Le Mans feels creep in as if flying down the Mulsanne Straight.
Mad Alchemy Madness Hot Embrocation ($21 USD)
We compiled this list prior to Thanksgiving Day where the temperature dipped to the lowest reading in one hundred previous editions. The offer was put out there to ride to Thanksgiving dinner. One thought that kept entering our minds during that ride was the want for embrocation.
Embrocation – aside from being fun to say – is a warming salve applied to the thighs. It makes cold rides more bearable. It also leaves a post-ride glow to lull one into a nap on the couch while the television flickers in the background. Maybe that feeling of relaxation is the secret to winter riding. Mad Alchemy makes fine products out of New Hampshire and their embrocation is what they are known for.
Their Madness Hot Embrocation will come in handy for the really cold days. Our only concern is that, being based in New Hampshire, our definition of a really cold day may differ from Mad Alchemy’s. The best part to undoing this secret weapon of winter? They sell Unbrocation for $6 to reverse its effects. (Editor’s Note: This stuff is serious so make sure you know what you’re doing when selecting Madness Hot. If the person on your list has never used embrocation before, maybe start them off with something a little less fiery.)
Chris King Upside Down King T-shirt ($29 USD)
There’s something special about a member of the tribe coming up to us based on what we wear. Sporting a Chris King tshirt is certainly the way to set you apart from those walking through town with basic fashion.
There have been times when we have tried to decipher a coded bumper sticker and concluded we are outsiders to their club. Imagine the difficulty of the public trying to piece together the meaning of a CKPC decal. Imagine further the confusion of general population trying to figure out why we sport a shirt with the word King upside-down. If you have to ask you don’t get it.
T-shirts are gifts with near 100% satisfaction (unofficial number by our guesses). Should the gift giving reach the eleventh hour, order up a Chris King Upside Down King t-shirt that comes in three popping colors. Once the order is placed breathe a sigh of relief knowing a regular t-shirt, transformed by one of the best precision component makers, will be a hit when the wrapping is torn off. Bonus points if you buzz while the person unwraps it.
Sly Fox Jameson Barrel-Aged Imperial Pale Ale ($20+ if you can find it)
Sly Fox Brewing Company in Pottstown, PA, is a cyclist’s dream. Sly Fox offers great beers, trendy apparel, and hosts one of the best cyclocross events on the east coast. Racing at the Sly Fox Cross can meet the approval of any seasoned cyclist. So when Sly Fox Brewing got a hold of Jameson Irish Whiskey barrels it meant their efforts were expanding.
This limited release joins the small family of Jameson caskmates at Sly Fox. That means Sly Fox has been in possession of more than one Jameson barrel. We often scoff at the lines involving people queuing for hours just to get a bottle of craft brewing, but this offering is worth the wait. Having that special someone unwrap one of these hard to come by bottles is a nod to doing research and delivering with a gem of a gift.
Like the Rescue Project gift approach, purchasing from Sly Fox only deepens the ties between the brewery and cycling. I’m sure there are times when sponsors wonder if their publicity pays off. Here Sly Fox’s support of cycling as well as their quality suds earned them a spot on this list. Do yourself – and your recipient – a favor and make the trip to their brewery if any bottles are left. Your only concern will be how to top it next year.
Eat Race Win by Hannah Grant ($50 USD)
We already have one Hannah Grant cookbook on the shelf at the creakybottombracket.com office. We have pulled it down many occasions to assist with a workout meal. Hannah Grant follows up with a sophomore effort to expand on her suggestions for endurance athletes.
Hannah Grant supplied food for the Tinkoff-Saxo team a couple of years ago in the Tour de France. With her book came not just recipes, but testimonies of the riders who cited her meals as an improvement to their performance. Eating clean has its benefits. With Eat Race Win Grant continues this approach, even interviewing a local rider for it in Selena Yeager, who has ridden alongside us at the Hell of Hunterdon and Sourland Semi Classic.
Hannah Grant has not directly challenged Skratch Labs for cookbook superiority but that doesn’t mean her books don’t deliver. Far from it. We have used numerous recipes from her books and have not found a dud among them. What does that mean? That means her follow-up effort is worth a look, specifically for the hydration advice. Most people think the orange lightning bolt is good enough. Can you imagine the performance improvement when ginger shots become a daily ritual? Get this book. Then be prepared to learn to cook with new ingredients.
Portland Razor Company Executive Shave Essentials Kit 2 ($70 USD)
Like cycling, wet shaving is a slow process of accruing items needed for an experience. For some the process takes one trip and a massive credit swipe. Others build up their accessories as they go. Portland Razor Company takes all of the guesswork out of the wet shaving essentials by offering a comprehensive package to get one started.
When we migrated over to wet shaving it started with a straight razor. To get an optimal shave a strop was added. To get that slick smooth shave tallow soap, pre-shave oil, and aftershave were purchased along with a brush and scuttle. For an experience that sells itself as waste-reductive it sure did require a lot of purchasing. Perhaps a one-stop-shop was necessary to encourage promotion.
Portland Razor Company is committed to detail by providing not only exceptional custom razors but also great shaving supplies. The Executive Shave Essentials Kit 2 comes with pre-shave conditioner, after-shave tonic and balm, plus a post-shave powder. For an extra four dollars you can get the Styptic Match Book to help plug those wounds that will inevitably happen to both rookies and Cat1 wet shavers. This is one of those purchases that nod to reducing waste as well as acknowledging simpler approaches.
Belgian Crew Hoodie (€85.00)
It’s been a long time coming for cycling tech companies to offer après cycling gear, but Belgian Crew (formerly Belgian Boys Club) have done it. Think about a time when after cycling comfy clothes are essential. Chances are it includes an epic day on the bike with scores of miles in distance. Those are the days cyclists dream about. That means if you’re reaching for the Belgian Crew Hoodie, you probably just had an awesome day.
Belgian Crew offer a piece of clothing cyclists will want to wear after a major ride. The black garment offers a stout zipper, something that is easily overlooked when it comes to style. It has a subtle Belgian flag on the right pocket as well as satisfyingly thick drawstrings. Whether you decide to cinch the hood is up to you. You may also reach for it when time comes to cheer on your mates in a muddy and snowy cyclocross race.
Winter is a time when darkness prevails in the northern hemisphere. Here at the creakybottombracket.com office we like to come home from work, put on a zip hoodie, and tune in to a professional hockey game. It’s a right-of-passage to get to the spring classics. Or a cycling-inspired hooded sweatshirt is just the warmup needed for the smart trainer with an eye on 2019’s schedule. Either way this hoodie will get you places and warmly.
Long Rifle Soap Brush Craft Cedarwood Badger Shaving Brush ($85 USD)
The gift itself has so much going for it on the creakybottombracket.com list: We love Long Rifle shave soap. Considering it is steeped in literary lore, Long Rifle produces wonderfully scented shave soap for your shave of the day. Their teaming up with Brush Craft, a Pennsylvania brush turner, is all the more impressive. This holiday gift says you did your research as well as explored the other wet shave accessories.
In the past few months Chris at Brush Craft has fine-tuned his quality. With a lazer-etching machine he now cranks out properly badged equipment. There are fewer enjoyable accessories in the shave process than a quality badger shave brush along with wonderfully scented tallow soap. The Brush Craft process is simple yet complex. Chris turns brushes on a small scale but his quality has seen his demand increase. No wonder he paired with Amanda at Long Rifle Soap Co. They both have created remarkable products in relatively short time.
A shave brush is a symbol of commitment. They are not to be used then thrown away. The more they flail outward the more it speaks of the owner and his usage. A fine badger brush means he has a penchant for appropriateness. Gifting one is precisely the package for the person who likes a finer thing or two. Pair it with Long Rifle shave soap and you have the starter pack of scented shave of the days.
Entry to Tenth Annual Jam Fund Grand Fundo ($ Price Varies)
Gran fundos have established themselves as non-competitive events for riders who still want to feel competitive. Before getting annoyed at that comment, that’s us. The Jam Fund is another gift that gives twice considering it benefits younger cyclists looking to get into the racing stream. Host Jeremy Powers brings his clout year after year to feature big named riders such as Ellen Noble, Ted King, and Phil Gaimon. Why not add your name to the ex-professional list?
The Jam Fund Grand Fundo is less like a regular road ride and more like a steeplechase. Be prepared for the numerous unsealed roads of New England. With gravel bikes becoming a mainstay in the cycling discipline there are many riders who are equipped for a ride like this. There are also three types of routes: a short route, a long route, and a long cyclocross route. The long routes manage to stay just under 6,000 feet of climbing, so it’s not exactly a day in the park.
Expect things to be a little different from the standard road race event. There is the much publicized ice cream truck rest stop. If Ted King has his way there will be lots of Vermont maple syrup flowing. I’m sure Phil Gaimon will have cookies. Ellen Noble is a fan of dogs but that is not a food group. Show your gift giving ability twice by registering in kind for your receiver until registration opens. Doing so will not only grant entry to a friend but provide a budding cyclist a chance at a racing future.
MAAP Escape Pro Winter Long Sleeve Jersey ($190 USD)
There are cycling accessory companies who try to develop for development’s sake and there are companies putting out quality. MAAP, an Australian company, is the latter, putting out quality gear with simplistic styling.
While we acknowledge we feature many male-oriented items, MAAP has made garments attractive to both men and women. This is where they are not being flashy for flashy’s sake. Most kits are based in either black or navy, as it should be. MAAP adorns recessive parts of the kit, not taking over the design. Expect the wavy lines of their insignia to present itself somewhere on the garment.
There have been cycling apparel companies who have put out loud patterns as it to embrace the kookiness of being a cyclist. MAAP goes against that approach and introduces kits that, if they were in polo design, would be perfect to wear to the office on casual Friday. Their basic long sleeve jersey features both the name MAAP along with the jagged lines of their symbol on a field of brilliant blue. Yes cold weather riding demands a dark color for splashing and heat retention but not always. With MAAP’s emergence in the US market, it is hopeful another boutique brand shares the top tier of the cycling apparel category. And it does so with intense simplicity.
Velokicks Blanco Lace Up ($203 USD)
As timeless as a straight razor, lace up cycling shoes fill the gap of old school ideas with technologically advanced structure. Velokicks, an Australian startup company, recently emerged as a company ready for the custom shoe market. A review of their social media feed demonstrates their excitement of cycling shoes ready – or not – for the artist’s brush.
These shoes are more than canvases in motion. With carbon soles these shoes are designed to put power to the pedals. Scores of aeration dimples means the shoes possess optimal airflow. Or you could be interested in buying them because they are unique and good-looking. How’s that for simplicity?
Follow Velokicks on social media and you’ll see why we’re a fan. They have posted both Gulf liveries as well as Martini colors on their shoes. Gulf colors with the number 20 on the number plate shoes? Send them to us! Steve McQueen can buzz us on the Mulsanne Straight any day so long as we’re rocking the Velokicks. It gets better: Crash wearing your Velokicks? They have a crash replacement program. Can’t afford them in one lump sum? Velokicks allow fortnight payments. You heard it from us; Velokicks will be a major name in a few years. Get them now so you can say you knew them before they were big.
Oakley ARO5 Cycling Helmet ($250 USD)
We didn’t know what to expect when Oakley announced their intentions to join the cycling helmet world. Based on the fact Oakley entered other interesting areas such as auto racing fire suits we figured they would enter the field with top-notch research. After all, the last thing a racecar driver wants to worry about is whether their racing pajamas are going to delay the onset of a burn. Oakley’s submission has delivered just as we came to expect. Their expansion into the 2019 peloton with major teams should prove they aren’t joking around.
To put a helmet on the holiday list is a bit of a gamble. It could come off as sounding overprotective. “I want you to wear this on and offthe bike.” It could also come off as, “You look like you crash a lot.” But an Oakley helmet suggests that the rider is interested in both style and staying ahead of trends. Since numerous underclassmen cyclists sport Oakley sunglasses it’s nice knowing the helmets are designed to dock seamlessly.
The ARO5 comes in seven colorways for this season and all come with MIPS if that’s important to you. The stylish colorways make it easier to match the team colors. If you’re concerned about getting the correct color, Oakley offers an all white as well as two all black options. Give it a few tries before they release a Gulf colored helmet just for us.
Bilenky Ultralight Classic Road Custom (starts $2600)
Our visit to the Philly Bike Expo gave us more views of local framebuilder of Bilenky Cycle Works. Our holiday list has always featured a custom builder and each year it spirals closer and closer to our office. Maybe next year our neighbor will build a frame.
Bilenky Cycle Works builds bikes specific for each order’s tastes. Options start with basic TIG welding but could move up to fillet brazed or lugged. Those who have ogled over lugged frames of a bygone era can replicate one through Bilenky’s shop. Got a big time traveler on your list? Bilenky can add couplers to the frame to break it down easier for transporting. Bilenky can also add paint to the frame; perhaps Gulf colors to get the process started.
Organizing a surprise involving a Bilenky frame is certainly a stressful situation. The best thing about it is Bilenky Cycle Works has that covered. Get that person on your list a spot in the Bilenky build schedule by making a deposit on their Start an Order page. With so many items on our holiday list to demonstrate how in tune you are to the cycling culture, a Bilenky deposit could certainly be a gift that benefits many in the process. The frame (or bike) could arrive just in time for the spring cycling season. That’s like two gifts in one.