In this crazy time when bikes, parts and accessories are surprisingly hard to come by, it’s tough to know what to buy your favorite cyclist this holiday season. But before you resort to desperation-shopping on Amazon, consider some ideas that might end up being the best gift you’ve given yet.
Give your rider a bucket-list experience.
Every cyclist has a few dreams that they haven’t been able to turn into reality — maybe a bike vacation, a particular event, or a big ride that needs time and support. These adventures lurk in the background, waiting for that impetus that will kick-start them into life. You, as a family member, friend or loved one, are in a unique position to make one of these happen, and create a memorable gift in the process.
This can be done on any scale, too. You can certainly bring all the family members together to fund a big trip, but there are also small, inexpensive ways to support a rider’s goals. Let’s dive into some of the options.
Although this option may be seen as unwise during the pandemic, there are smart ways to make this happen.
- Book a trip through a tour company that is taking serious steps to manage the situation. Western Spirit Cycling Adventures, which offers mountain, gravel and road tours for every skill level, is taking extensive measures to show guests a good time while keeping everyone safe. Or they will take you on a private trip for a small group of riding friends, where you can hone in on the exact experience and timeframe your rider is looking for.
- Design your own trip based around camping or RV-ing, where you create a fun itinerary in a place your rider has longed to visit. Just be sure to plan ahead, since campsites across the country have been slammed with people trying to get outdoors.
- If it so happens that your rider also dreams about #vanlife, you can rent a fully-outfitted van for them to enjoy. This trip-and-van combo could possibly make you the coolest significant other on the planet. There are many options to explore depending on destination; one example for the West Coast and Denver area is Go Camp Camper Vans.
- If your cyclist really wanted to travel internationally to a prime riding destination, try to figure out what he or she found most appealing about that spot. For example, if your road rider dreams of going to France to tackle huge climbs in the Alps, see if you can create something similar in the Colorado mountains. You can book a few nights through VRBO to avoid hotels, but provide more creature comforts than camping.
Everyone has big rides they want to do, and purchasing necessary elements such as shuttle service or bike shipping could be the trigger to get that dream rolling.
- Many epic mountain bike rides involve a shuttle, such as the Whole Enchilada (Moab, UT), the Monarch Crest (Salida, CO), the Big Boulder trail (Downieville, CA). These all-day rides are best with friends, so a killer gift could be a private shuttle for your shredder and his/her riding pals. Since the holidays are off-season for most shuttle companies, try calling them and asking about gift cards. Once this piece is taken care of, more parts of the trip can begin to fall into place.
- You can also explore DIY options, such as recruiting a friend or other family member to create your own group shuttle. You could rent a passenger van while your helper hauls bikes, or whatever variation works for you.
- That same concept can work for non-shuttle rides that require food and water re-supply or other support. You can coordinate supply drops or ships to locations along a bikepacking route, for example, or drive a support vehicle for a road tour. Bikepacking.com and similar sites can be hugely helpful for ideas, advice and inspiration.
- If shipping a bike to a destination would help get a great ride or trip started, you can take care of that issue with BikeFlights.com. They offer not only great rates but also shipping boxes and cases, along with detailed information about every shipping situation you might be dealing with. Not a sexy gift, but it’s an investment in your rider’s dream.
It’s so hard to say what 2021 holds for races and events. In a normal year, buying a desirable race/event entry for someone provides a big boost of motivation, especially if the event is in a dream location for the rider. During the pandemic, many promoters have carried over entry fees from canceled events in 2020, so it doesn’t appear to be a total loss if the 2021 event is postponed as well. In the case of a size-limited, highly desirable event, it might be worth trying to buy an entry just to get into the running.
Give your rider a cycling-app subscription service.
There are tons of apps/sites that are fantastic additions to a rider’s experience, and most are inexpensive. This is the gift that will be well-used all year long.
This tool has a surprising amount of versatility and depth for all kinds of activities, not just cycling, but much of it is now behind a paywall. If your rider isn’t already a subscriber, this gift is a no-brainer. They’ll be able to log their rides, check their fitness progress, set training goals and challenges, find places to ride, join “clubs” where they can compete with others, and tons more. Already have an account? Right on the homepage is a button for purchasing a gift subscription. The cost is $59.99 per year.
This popular trail mapping app/site has gone subscription too and is well worth it to see extensive maps of trails all over the world that are highly searchable. The app allows you to navigate on the ground without cell service, using a helpful direction pointer to make sure you’re staying on track. You can also explore heatmaps, create routes, check trail conditions, and see routes that other rides are using. The service is branching off into other sports as well, so it can come in handy for e-MTBing, hiking, backcountry skiing, horseback riding, off-roading, etc. Cost is $3.00 per month, billed annually at $35.99 per year.
This training app requires a smart trainer to mount your bike onto, but if your rider already has one, Zwift is the hot new app for making indoor cycling more fun. You can choose from hundreds of structured workouts, where you can also compete on-screen with other cyclists riding the same course. Visually similar to a video game, it’s an immersive world that helps you forget the fact that you’re riding your trainer indoors. The cost is $14.99 per month.
Data-rich but intuitive maps for every kind of outdoor activity. You can select from a whole library that includes Forest Service quad maps, weather and fire overlays, international options, backcountry ski maps, and tons more. This kind of information can be very helpful for planning backcountry adventures and bikepacking routes. You can even download your maps to save phone battery power. Gift memberships can be found right here. A standard year membership is $20, while a premium membership is $40.
The tried and tested app for training and analysis. Whether your rider has a coach or not, this app is ideal for selecting training plans, setting goals, tracking progress and clearly seeing your training from both the micro and macro levels. This app’s analytics are a particular favorite with athletes. Prices vary depending on the time frame you pay for.
MTB specific training:
If your rider is an enduro- or downhill-style athlete looking for a complete gym and bike training program, there are many cool online options out there, including:
- Enduro MTB Training – Colorado-based trainer Dee Tidwell provides a well-rounded program including strength, power, flexibility and mobility to get riders fit and healthy for any MTB goal, and his to-the-point videos help you learn the movements quickly. Tidwell takes great care of his athletes and his program is accessible for every level of rider.
- Fit 4 Racing/Riding – British trainer Jonny Thompson offers monthly plans where he videos every single workout so you can easily follow along and see the correct form. These workouts are no joke! This program is best suited to those who already focus on gym work, but want to take their fitness to the next level. There are plenty of videos to watch (without a membership) to learn the style and approach of his programs. And both of these trainers offer options designed around working out at home during the pandemic.
Hopefully, these ideas will make holiday shopping easier, but also more fun — and more personally suited to the rider you care about. During these weird times, we can use more of all those things. Happy Holidays!