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Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens… ok, I’m no Julie Andrews but actually I do love whiskers on kittens, and kittens in general… so without further ado, these are a few of my favorite things.
As a new member of the CyclingTips gang, this is my first list of products I loved. I hope that as you read through this list you get to know me a little better, as a person as well as a cyclist.
A little over a month ago, my family and I were about to leave Girona to fly home when we decided to stop on our way to the airport, in town for lunch. Without a second thought, we left our luggage in the car and walked the couple hundred meters to a cafe. After some delicious and potentially overpriced toast, we approached the car and I noticed that it didn’t look nearly as full of luggage as it had when we’d left it, 30 minutes earlier.
Upon closer inspection, I noticed the back window was gone, along with all of our luggage (hilariously, they had left Toms’ Trek racing bike, without question the most valuable item in the car). All of our belongings, gone. To be fair to me, because I’m sure someone out there is thinking “well yeah, you left a rental car full of luggage in a parking lot…” I am from a very small mountain town in Colorado where the crime rate is non-existent. I’ve also lived in Girona for three years and have never ever had anything stolen or any kind of incident. So this entire situation was a big shock to me.
When I was writing this list I started thinking about the things I immediately realized were lost to me in that parking lot in Spain. Items that had been in my bag that made me think, “Well, I’m going to need to get those again.” Especially since I spent 2019 racing bikes for a living, which is basically living out of a suitcase. So here’s my list, mostly made up of things I didn’t realize I’d miss so much until they were gone.
Keego metal water bottles
These water bottles only recently came into my life, but already I love using them. The inside of the bottles are lined out with elastic titanium, so your drinking water doesn’t touch plastic. The biggest thing I noticed is if I leave water in my bottles overnight, the next morning they don’t have that taste of stale water like plastic bottles always seem to.
During winter rides you can put warm water or tea in the bottles. I am sure with a regular plastic bottle you consume even more plastic, that it basically melts into your tea, but not if you are using Keego bottles. The price point on them is pretty big, especially when you compare them to other standard plastic water bottles, but maybe this will encourage you take care of them, instead of chucking away a bottle and getting a new one. Better for your body. Better for the environment… just better.
Price: US$65 / AU$94
Now, I am sure this will be a controversial pick. People have opinions about riding bikes while listening to things. So I would like to start out by saying, only listen to one side, for safety.
The Jaybird Tarah Pro headphones were a targeted Instagram ad that hit its mark. After seeing the ad a few times I caved, got the headphones, and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of my purchase. For one, they’re wireless. No cords getting wrapped around everything, tangled in your pockets and just in general being a nuisance. The battery life is amazing, around 14 hours of play time. Sound quality is great, they even have an app where you can adjust for what you’re listening to, so whether you’re jamming to some Avicii or listening to the latest episode of Freewheeling (shameless plug) the sound is crisp and hits all the right notes.
A favorite feature of mine is the magnetic bits on each of the earpieces themselves, which allow you to connect the two earpieces together for storage. When connected, the headphones basically turn off. They’re still wirelessly connected but they pause automatically and also save battery life. So if you’re riding along and that annoying friend who never stops talking rides up behind you, you just magnetize those bad boys together, automatically pause your Audible book, and wait for a good excuse to peel off and start listening again.
The magnetic bits make it easy to throw the headphones around your neck without losing them, but I recommend still tucking them into your jersey. Honestly, these are the best headphones. I have become a diehard Jaybird fan because of them. As a company, they are phenomenal at replacement pieces and warranty help, and they’re based in Park City, Utah, which is pretty cool.
Price: US$159 / AU$230
Koyah fruit powders
There’s a type of person who loves the taste of water, or at least don’t think much about it, and there are the kinds of people who can not drink water unless it is flavored or sparkling. I am one of the latter.
I’m a big fan of drink mix when I ride, and I’ve found that if my bottles contain only water I won’t touch them the entire ride. This year I discovered Koyah, a company that makes freeze-dried fruit and vegetable powders, and I started making my own drink mix. It’s pretty easy with Koyah, some salt, and a little bit of Slopeside maple syrup. Knowing exactly what is going into your bottles is a game-changer, plus I can switch up the flavors every day so I never get sick of drinking just Orange flavor until it runs out.
The powders go great on top of yogurt, into smoothies, into bars, I even feed my dog a scoop of the kale a day so she grows up strong and healthy. Toms brings a tub of the broccoli to every race, because getting enough greens when you’re racing the Tour de France gets a little tricky. Overall, I love all the Koyah products, not just the fruit. A bonus is supporting a small business with big heart.
Price: US$25-$35 / AU$36-50
Velocio Concept Bibs
Full disclosure: I’m a Velocio Ambassador. But that’s because I love them. There are two Velocio pieces in this list, because I honestly wear them every chance I get.
When I first got these bibs I actually went on Velocio’s website to write a review because that’s how amazing they are. My exact words went something like, “if I die, bury me in these bibs, that’s how comfortable they are”. The price tag might scare you at first, but think about how important the quality of the bibs are in relation to the enjoyment of riding a bike? The answer is immensely important.
What you really need to know is that these bibs have fewer seams than others so there’s less weird chaffing and lines that cut into your legs. They can be worn on the hottest days in summer but work just as well on your colder fall days, and they’re super flattering. I hope to never wear another pair of bibs again ever for the rest of my cycling days, or at least until they come out with their next model. (ok I guess on laundry days I’ll wear the Luxe bibs, they’re freaking amazing too).
Price: US$289 / AU$420
After spending a long ride wearing tights with a built-in diaper there’s nothing better than pulling on one of these bad boys. With plenty of room for your skin to breath, a OnePiece is the perfect post-ride lounge apparel while still being stylish enough to score some compliments, or at least some looks, from the UPS guy. The traditional ones are long sleeve and come in a myriad of Christmas-like and traditional Norwegian patterns. They also can be purchased in different thicknesses, depending on the climate you live in. For the summer months, luckily, they have a short sleeve version. In general I love these things so much I gladly dedicate the coveted luggage space to bring them with me when flying…anywhere.
Price: US$160 / AU$230
Taylor Swift’s Lover
Yes. You read that right. Taylor Swift’s 2019 album Lover is included in this list of favorite products of 2019.
Arguably one of Taylor’s most bop-filled, this album has something for everyone. It’s got some country twang in Soon You’ll Get Better, featuring the Dixie Chicks, it’s got dance jams like I Forgot That You Existed. This album… is life. Pick a favorite song, you ask? I can’t. It changes by the day. Because they’re all good.
After some hard intervals when you’re crawling home, or on a nice easy spin to your favorite coffee shop, these tunes will put a smile on my face. I’m not embarrassed to say that I have listened to it almost every day since it came out. Everyone needs to let loose once in a while, and what better way to let loose than a dance party, or some tears. 2019 will forever be remembered as the year Taylor Swift came back. Came back into our ears and our hearts.
Price: $11.99 on Apple Music but free to stream.
Fabric Chamber Ratchet Head Multitool
In general, I am not a person who loves tools of any kind. Any work I do on my own bike needs to be re-done by a professional before the bike is functional. This includes tightening bolts after travel. Now, before the judgement begins, I can build and unbuild my bike and I can change flats, but as for the other stuff, I just have no interest in it, much like some people have no interest in Middle Earth (I don’t understand these people. I once wrote a 25 page thesis paper on the migration of Hobbits).
When it comes to multitools I didn’t really have any thoughts about them. They all seem slightly hard to use, awkward and clumsy, and it’s questionable if they have the actual things you need. Enter the Fabric Chamber Ratchet Head Multitool. A multitool I loved so much that when I lost my saddle bag on a ride with this tool in it, the next day I went and bought it again even though I had another multitool of a different brand in the garage.
Basically, inside the silver sheath are a bunch of tool bits. At the end is a ratchet. You stick the bits in the ratchet and tighten or loosen things as necessary.
The way the tool is designed makes it easy to slide into any saddlebag and because it’s not awkwardly shaped so you can also put it in your back pocket. Since the tool is designed with a longer handle, moveable functions the leverage is far superior to other multitools. Even as a mechanically challenged person I find this multitool is incredibly easy to use. Plus, it’s really good looking.
Price: US$52 / AU$ 75
Velocio RECON Micromodal Jersey
This jersey is soft, comfortable, and flattering. Not once have I worn this jersey and not gotten a compliment or a question about it. Do me a favor, picture yourself wearing the most comfortable T-shirt you’ve ever worn, now add cycling pockets, factor in a silicone gripper at the waist so there’s no riding up issues, and you’ve got the worlds best training jersey, am I right? Also, with the growing power of groad and gravel racing in the cycling world, there was a need for a lighter weight more versatile and, frankly, hip, jersey. This one ticks every box. I could go on forever about how much I love this jersey.
Price: US$139 / AU$203
Oakley Sutro sunglasses
Out of all the sunglasses on the market, Oakley continues to put out the best glasses when it comes to function and style. This year they introduced the Sutro, a pair of sunglasses that fit in equally well on the road, trail, groad, and at a wedding (yep I wore these to a wedding).
The first time I saw them was on Kasia Niewadoma at the Amgen Tour of California, and let me tell you, sponsorship works, because I ordered a pair later that day. Comfort isn’t a thing you notice in sunglasses until they aren’t comfortable, so I can’t really sit here and say “oh my gosh these sunglasses are so light they don’t put pressure on your nose” because when I’m wearing them I don’t even notice they’re there. Except for the fact that the world is a little brighter thanks to the Prizm lenses. Who doesn’t love a pair of sunglasses they can wear on and off the bike and get the same amount of comments in both settings?
Price: US$166 / AU$240
The waffle iron I got for Christmas last year was potentially the best Christmas gift of all time. Not only can we make delicious waffles for breakfast, but we also use it to create unique and tasty ride food. From banana and oat waffles to carrot cake waffles to fig and cashew waffles, the food we put in our pockets for riding is almost always real food. Having the waffle iron speeds up the process of making ride food while also encouraging a fun morning with lots of extra snacking. The one we have was a relatively cheap Cuisinart from Amazon, but if you want to spring for a nicer one you wouldn’t be sorry. In my experience, it’ll pay for itself in a matter of months. For recipes check out Minimalist Baker or Food52, and be the envy of all of your friends on the group ride when they pull out their tasteless lumps of “food” and you whip out a homemade slice of heaven.
Price: US$19.88 on Amazon