Since I’ve officially sold out to gravel, here are my 9 favorite items this year. Some of them I bought, some are sponsors, all are awesome. As a cyclist that gets to travel a good bit of the year, I don’t take a ton of items, so the ones I do are thoroughly tested, good for an adventurous cyclists or traveller on your list! I've linked the items to check out, I don't have any discount codes, and hit me up if you have any other questions!
Smartwool Men’s merino 250 baselayer
Cycling below about 50F (10C) is basically a wild guess. Or maybe I'm just really bad at it. I know a lot of teammates travel with a wool baselayer, and this one is always my go to. It’s heavy enough for seriously cold weather as a baselayer with any jacket. If your jacket gets soaked, it holds heat while wet. Since it’s soft merino wool, you can wear it for more days than I’m comfortable admitting without washing, and it doesn’t stink! I’ll wear it with a light wind jacket over top for most rides, even down to about 30F (-2C), and stay toasty warm, even if I sweat it out.
There’s a difference between riding and training on a bike. For me, the line gets blurry sometimes, but I try to make sure I’m putting out enough watts to stop for a sausage roll when I can. The Quarq is one of those things that you never really think about--it just always works. I’ll calibrate it (super easy on the garmin) every week or so, and every time I check it against anything, it works great. I’ve travelled with it, scraped it on curbs, ridden through days of rain, and it never missed a beat. If you’re looking for an upgrade to make you faster, the best bang for your buck is always a power meter! If you want to get faster by getting new wheels, you should get a power meter.
Vittoria Terreno Zero
Nothing will get you more comments on a post than asking what everyone’s favorite tire is for gravel. Everyone has a reason for riding a tire, whether it’s the fastest rolling, the lightest, the least likely to puncture (usually the heaviest), it comes in tan sidewalls, etc. For me, the Terreno Zero checks the boxes of being fast rolling (Center tread based on their road Corsa), midweight (not super light, but good flat protection), and tubeless ready. Personally I prefer a smoother, wider tire for any gravel. My bike handling skills are terrible, and I’m not going to make up enough time on a corner to run a “beefier” tire like the Terreno dry, so wider and cushier is usually faster for me. So far it has worn quite well, has an easy tubeless setup, and does well in the limited mud I’ve encountered! The Terreno Zero is the perfect goldilocks tire for everything I’ve thrown at it, and it's more than capable for all sorts of adventures.
Lauf True Grit Fork
I never expected this item to make this list. When I started riding a Lauf Anywhere last year, I was so stoked they made a bike without that goofy looking fork! Finally, just a normal, racy gravel bike with a lightweight adventure fork. They gave me one of the true grit forks to try, and after overcoming my preconceived notions of how it looks, I haven’t taken it off. It feels like dropping 30 psi out of a 38mm tire, but doesn’t feel squishy like dropping pressure. I don’t notice the weight at all; it corners well, rides fine on the road, and holds up to running into a car. The biggest thing I notice for gravel is how much easier it is to stay in the aerobars (yes I ride with aerobars), and how much smoother the ride is on 3+ hour rides. If you’re still on the fence, hit me up to borrow one, and I’ll see what I can do. Ride it before you knock it!
Goodr is one of those companies that I just happened to find. I thought they were awesome, I bought a few pairs, and then I started working with them! They are $25-35 sunnies (the $25 OGs are my favorites) that punch way above that price. They come in some super rad colors and are all polarized. They don’t slip off my face, even during really sweaty rides, they look rad, and I don’t really know too much else to say. They are sunglasses that look awesome. They don’t slip off your face. They come in a bunch of colors.They're glasses, but probably not ok to look at the sun in.
Just like gravel tires, bib shorts are a love them or hate them sort of thing. Personally, I’ve done lots of long miles, I have a fairly aggressive (read, long/low position) and have tried a LOT of bibs. It isn’t very midwestern to list all the other bibs I’ve tried and then say the Huub ones are my favorite. So I’ll say I’ve tried lots of bibs way over $130, and these are my absolute favorites. They fit my legs really well, grippers aren’t too grippy, the bands are spot on, but the chamois is the topper. Seriously, it’s amazing. Most bib shorts these days have the flat-lock stitching, the wide leg bands, and a good fabric, but the chamois is what really sets these apart for me. The foam is quite dense and pre-shaped, which helps to keep my in the saddle for longer, and doesn’t bunch up or chafe at all. Still haven’t gotten a saddle sore in these yet, *knock on wood* which is more than I can say about any other bib shorts. From 5 hr zwift sessions, to short TTs, these shorts crush it.
It’s not Theodore Queen’s Corn Syrup, but Ted King’s Untapped Maple syrup (or just maple syrup) is probably just as good. I use maple syrup on rides a pretty good bit, and also on my yogurt and granola basically every day. It’s pretty much one of my main food groups, something that I usually get from as a gift, or from Canadians who are passing through (who buys nice maple syrup for themselves?), isn’t wildly expensive, and everyone loves it. Make sure it’s real maple syrup, and enjoy it! Maybe make some pancakes too--get crazy!
Craftsman flathead 1/8”x 2-1/2” screwdriver
I’ll never forget my first real bike shop job where I learned how to wrench on bikes. It was my first day in the back, and the owner, Dave, handed me one of these screwdrivers and told me “don’t ever lose this. You won’t use it all the time, but if I could only have one tool, this would be it.” It’s a bit more multi-purpose than the typical 4,5,6 mm wrench, and way more useful. It costs $5, and I’ve definitely spent way more on dumber stuff.
Garmin Edge 1030
I’m fortunate enough to get to do a lot of exploring for my career. I always travel with my Edge 1030 unit, and it has never failed to get me home and provide a lot of useful data! I initially got it for the battery life (real world, at least 12 hrs), but the mapping, ease of use, and screen size has been a major plus. It basically functions as a full navigation system in addition to being able to track data and power. So I can navigate to the track in any city, pop it on the bike for a track sesh, and ride back with some extra distance if I want to, all without opening the phone. There are still several features that I don’t use (group tracking?) but for my activities (auto-upload, routing, navigation, data tracking) the 1030 does everything I need it to. I've had it since it around 2 years, and just learned I can use it to control my Tacx Neo. Who knows what I'll learn how to use it for tomorrow?