TROGDOR THE BLOGINGATOR
Remember how it was in the year 1818? It was really hard to buy gifts because everyone already had everything. A horse, a butter churn, and long underwear—that’s all there was to have and everyone had it. How lucky we are to live in 2018, when no one person could possibly have everything. If you’re having trouble thinking of gifts for someone who rides bikes, these are a few of our favorite things.
lezyne tubeless patch kit
Tubeless plugs are great. The Lezyne kit stands above others we’ve tried because the capsule threads back together to form a stout plunger. Additionally, the plugs are very thick—all the better for plugging holes. There’s also plenty of room inside the capsule for extra valve cores, a small valve core tool, and a pint of your favorite ice cream. $20.
45nrth Sturmfist gloves
There are a lot of gloves and mittens out there in the world, but most of them were not made to address the specific needs of winter biking, which often involves an elevated heart rate for extended periods. Gloves not only need to block wind, but to insulate while being highly breathable. The Sturmfist 5 is recommended for temperatures ranging from 15-35 degrees, and the warmer Sturmfist 4 is recommended for 0-15 degrees. Both offer the dexterity you need, and the Sturmfist 4 uses Aerogel insulation, which is what NASA uses to insulate space suits. The Sturmfist 5 is $85 and the Sturmfist 4 is $130.
Want to add another hand position to your flat or riser bars? TOGS are an inexpensive, sleek, and smart way to do just that. They sit just inside your grips and allow you to control the bar from the top. They sit you up just a little, and for long paved sections or fire road climbs they are exactly what we didn’t even know we’d been looking for. They come in several colors and have a flexible tip so that if you wad it up or go over the bars, you won’t get stabbed. They’re great! $20.
Gravel cycling by nick legan
This book is a joy to read, beautiful to look at, informative, and inspiring all at once. Learn things about how to pack and outfit your bike, where to ride it, and how to ride it. Whether you’re looking to compete or explore, there’s good advice here. The book’s scope is wider than what you might expect from a “gravel” book, and even if you think gravel isn’t your thing, this book will make you want it to be your thing. $25.
fix it sticks Mountain kit
This multitool was on our list last year, but now that we’ve had more time to carry, use, and play with it, we’re absolutely nuts about it. It includes a great little pouch that you can put a bunch of extra tools in, and it includes a high-quality chain tool and tire levers. It’s totally worth $56. You can get the tool into hard-to-reach places, get a wrist-full of leverage, and there are no ratchets to break or slip. It’s the best!
You know how aggravating it can be to ring your bell and not be heard. This rebuildable bell is small, attractive, and LOUD (IN A PLEASANT WAY). Silver $49, black $59.
Yawp! cyclery Merino wool jersey by soigneur
If you’ve worn merino wool, then we need say no more about these jerseys. If you haven’t, here are some fun facts:
Merino wool is a natural, active fibre. When worn next to the skin, super fine Merino wool works as a dynamic buffer, helping to stabilize the humidity levels and temperature of the micro-climate between the fabric and the skin. This keeps you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot.
Being 100% natural, Merino wool is highly breathable, because wool absorbs large quantities of moisture then moves it away to evaporate into the air. Just how good is merino wool? It can absorb and release twice as much moisture vapour as cotton, and thirty times as much as polyester!
3. UV resistant:
Merino wool absorbs UV radiation, which is why sheep don’t get sunburned.
4. Odor resistant:
Merino wool helps reduce sweat and odor, keeping you drier, cleaner and less smelly.
Soigneur merino wool clothing is made from 19 micron fibers, extra fine wool as soft as silk, cashmere or alpaca.
Sheep don’t like being wet and neither do you - Merino wool’s fine properties make it quite water-repellent, meaning you don’t have to worry about being caught in a short shower or light rain when riding in a Soigneur merino jersey.
7. Therapeutic to the skin:
Wool has been found in medical research to be therapeutic to the skin, providing a natural treatment for eczema that reduces the need for traditional medicines. Dermatological trials have shown that adult and infant eczema sufferers who wear super fine Merino wool garments next to the skin have significantly reduced symptoms.
8. Doesn't pollute the oceans:
Every time synthetic (i.e. plastic) clothes are washed, tiny strands of fabric are washed away. Now, a quarter of fish have these strands in their guts, and over 60% of the plastic debris found in the sea are microfibres from clothing. We may like to think that cycling is 'clean and green' but the moment that synthetic cycling jersey is put in the washing machine, more plastic microfibres are finding their way into the oceans.
Sinewave beacon dynamo headlight
Once you’ve used a dynamo light, it’s hard to go back. Imagine if automobile headlights had to be removed and recharged once a week; you’d always be getting caught out after dark with your headlights plugged into the wall at home. With a dynamo light, you never have to think about it. (These lights are powered by special dynamo front hubs, so the recipient of this gift would need to have one of those).
The Sinewave Beacon isn’t just the most colorful and customizable of dynamo lights, it’s also one of the best and brightest (and made in the USA). It has an integrated USB charger, will run off of a battery pack to avoid flicker at low speeds, is weatherproof, and has loads of other features. Whether you’re looking to crush the Tour Divide or put in some miles after work, this light is an excellent choice. $350.
Pretend to work at Yawp! cyclery
Oveja negra Portero backpack
This backpack is fantastic. Though I’ve used it almost every day for just under a year, it’s hard to find any evidence of frequent use. It’s just the right size (adjustable from 16-22 liters), lightweight, comfortable, and functional. I don’t miss any of the “features” I’ve had on other packs. It’s somehow slim and tidy and yet holds everything I need. Made in Salida. $165.
Backpacks are obviously great and endlessly useful, but not wearing a backpack on a bike ride is also pretty great. That’s why the last item on our list is:
bike bags of all sorts
Few things have changed the way we ride in the last few years as much as all of these marvelous bags. When it’s easy to carry more stuff, it’s easy to ride farther, or to head out when the forecast is questionable.
In shoulder seasons especially, it’s common for the temperature to fluctuate a lot during a three-hour ride. Having space to carry extra gloves or stash a jacket has taken a narrow window for riding and blown it wide open.
Take food and stay out all afternoon. Take a water filter and stay out all day. Take a sleeping bag and stay out for a week.
We’re so fond of bags that we try to stock many varieties of them made by many fine brands. All of them are made in the United States, and many of them in Colorado, and some of them in Denver. Denver! Dang! (That’d be your friendly neighborhood J.Paks, FYI).
If you don’t know what kind of bag would best suit your needs, come in and we’ll talk your ear off. Then your ear can be the first thing you put in your new bag. Cedaero | J.Paks | North St. | Oveja Negra | Swift
BIKES THAT COST LESS THAN YOU’D EXPECT
The Surly Bridge Club and the Salsa Journeyman (Journeyperson) Apex build.
Both of these bikes are an incredibly good value. The Bridge Club is great for commuting, all-day gravel, bikepacking, offroad touring, urban exploring, and just about anything else. The Apex Journeyman is wonderful for nearly the same things. They are both similar to other bikes that cost $300-500 more. Bridge Club $1200. Journeyperson $1499.
If that’s not enough, you can see past years’ guides here:
We’ve taken a lot of photographs over the years, so we thought we might select our favorite 10 and post them. Overachievers that we are, we’ve posted closer to forty. That might be too many, but we don’t care. We had a ton of fun looking through all of these pictures, and who are we to deprive you of having a ton of fun, too?
I think either Rebecca or I took all of the pictures below. If the pictures are any good, they’re Rebecca’s. As far as I can recall, the only photo we didn’t take is of the Tunnel of Stoke during the Randonee-nae. That was taken by Kevin McDonough. If we stole other photos, it was inadvertent. Please notify me and we’ll credit you.
Speaking of which, we know you’ve taken some incredible pictures on our rides, too. Please send us a few of your favorites to be featured on our next blog post. You have until Sunday, November 18th to submit them. Photos and videos both are allowed. We might even have a prize for our favorite photo that you submit. The only requirement for your submissions is that they have something to do with Yawp! Send your photos to yawp at yawpcyclery dot com.
The first picture below is how Yawp! looked before we opened. The shop looks a little better now, but it’s still just sticks and concrete. Those things aren’t important. Those materials are not the shop. The shop is you. The shop is all of the fun things we’ve done together, and will do together in the future. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of everything, or everybody. If you don’t see yourself, I’m sorry. We still love you.
We were in the thick of 2018. KFC had just conquered the state of Nebraska and the iPhone had constructed an eighth dimension. Electric scooters had breeched the southern gate and had us pinned down in the courtyard. China had decided it would hang a second moon. I looked at Trevor, the space between us thick with cellophane advertisements, and I could tell he was thinking exactly what I was thinking.
Time to get out.
He’d heard lore about a place beyond the wall where trees still grew. I figured it was nonsense, but better to know for sure than live forever in the shadow of the AMC 247-plex. We sent up a flare and waited to see if there were other weary fools out there who might feel the need, also, to get out.
It was impossible to know what we might need in that world out there that Trevor called “nature,” if indeed it did exist, but our textured miscellany seemed sufficient to get us through crises both imaginable and not.
I haven’t time to recount here every wretched and heartbreaking event that transpired, but find the wall we did indeed, and over it we crossed into what surely must be the last stronghold of forested refuge.
Some noxious chemical had besieged the trees, and though they must’ve been dead they were a most spectacular color. The sunlight filtering through the forest was monochromatically yellow in spots, as though we were huddled under a translucent yellow acid-rain-proof tarpaulin.
The eyes can hardly adjust quickly enough, accustomed though they are to the 500 shades of gray we know too well. I’ve heard of a thing called the nature/nurture debate that took place back in the 20th century, and while the details of that debate are unknown to me, it’s clear that those words refer to the same thing.
Then an unbelievable event occurred—it became dark! Totally dark. One could not move about without stumbling. There was absolutely no ambient light and not even one chopper overhead to sweep its spotlight across the rocky, uneven landscape. We found a place to deploy our inflatable sleep pods for the night and it was our good fortune that one among us knew that fallen trees would catch fire. The smoke from this fire didn’t even make one nauseous.
On the morning that followed, we left our supplies behind and set out on an exploratory mission.
We located a relic or which we could make little sense. It seems that trains once ran here, trains of a sort that were powered by water and rocks, and that clocked a speed lower than 400 miles per hour. Why such slugs were used and for what was beyond our comprehension. However, it was clear that the tunnel itself had been sealed after numerous accidents, and was a kind of graveyard for both man and machine. What would it be like to die out here where one’s body wouldn’t immediately be fed to the orphans?
The trail became steep, and breathing unpolluted air with so high an oxygen content was difficult. This gave us ample time to look around. Ample time was not enough.
For the first time in our lives we were in a quiet place, and we discovered that noise leaves an echo in the ear much like a neon hologram burns into the retinas for a time after one looks away. It was only after many hours that I heard the flapping of the birds’ wings that had surely been there before, just hidden behind the ghostly reverberations of a lifetime of car horns, gasbag solicitations, flatulent delivery drones, and droning oxygen generators.
Sounds, really, are just the tip of the iceberg (an antiquated metaphor I don’t understand). The silence, the stillness, the variations in temperature, the appearance of animals—it is difficult to get accustomed to these pleasures, and to recognize them as such.
Logistics, unfortunately, demanded that we return to the urbolopolis, but with us we took stories and a few memories, something very intensely our own to cherish and to be changed by.
Until recently, I'd never owned a cycling computer. I figured I should give it a go, and decided to experiment with one for a year. I bought one in January and stopped using it in July.
While I'm neither a technophobe nor a progressophobe, I am the kind of person who, for a time, mounted a small abacus to my handlebars. The joke was worth the rattling.
I don't care about tracking my stats and I enjoy navigating with paper maps--they don't run out of battery or break in a fall, many people can look at a paper map at once, and there's a lot of valuable information on a map that doesn't show up on the display of a cycling computer or smartphone. Yet, I decided to try a computer anyway. Data can be interesting, invaluable, and counterintuitive. I talk to a lot of people who know how much they ride in a year, and I can't contextualize their experience without quantifying my own. I was also curious to learn how many miles I put on my mountain bike versus my commuter, how often I actually used my swamp touring unicycle, and things like that.
No surprise: the computer and I weren't compatible. Only a small part of my frustration has to do with the make and model of the computer itself, so I don't want to pick on Sigma's Rox 11 computer. Most of my complaints would hold true for any computer on the market.
To be clear, many people enjoy competing on their bikes, and in order to compete, data is essential. This is not a critique of that. Some people simply enjoy sifting through data and using spreadsheets. This is not a critique of that, either. If you use a computer and like it, that's great. This is my critique about how data transformed me in ways I didn't like, and how quickly it happened.
The problem with the Rox 11 was a firmware update that prevented my handlebar computer from communicating with my desktop computer for a time, which was where my stats for the year were stored. I lost data, and I didn't see the point of continuing to gather data if the totals were going to be inaccurate. How many miles do I ride in a year? I'll never know. To be fair, this was merely the last straw, and I was happy to have an excuse to call the experiment quits.
My problems with computers in general can more or less be broken down into two categories.
1) The data is too immediate.
There's no point in having a computer if it's difficult to see, and mounting it on your stem or handlebars ensures you'll never not see it. That means I couldn't think about anything but how fast I was going and how far I'd ridden. For me, this invoked exactly the kind of internal monologue that I ride bikes to escape. How fast am I going now? How fast am I going now? I'm going slow! Is my tire pressure too low? Is my saddle too high? Are my gloves aero? Maybe I shouldn't have eaten that third donut. How fast am I going now? Any faster? Am I dehydrated?
Sometimes I ride longer distances, and I'd almost always rather not know how far along I am because I always feel very tired about 10% of the way in, and this invokes a very similar kind of internal monologue. How far have I gone now? 10.1 miles! Why am I so tired? Do I have a tapeworm? Are the planets misaligned? Perhaps four donuts was too many. How far have I gone now? 10.15 miles! Am I dehydrated?
I could stow the computer in a pocket or a pack in order to not look, but then obviously I couldn't reap the navigational benefits of the GPS computer that I spent the extra money to have. (I did appreciate those navigational benefits, by the way. I will continue to use the GPS function on long gravel rides or unfamiliar terrain.)
2) The data becomes a substitute for the experience.
In a way, using a computer was quite like playing a video game. In many video games, you begin with a weak and unskilled character, and as your character battles they become stronger and learn sweet new moves. Once you've played the game for several (or countless) hours, your character becomes impressively powerful.
This is satisfying because this kind of thing almost never happens in real life. Struggles often don't lead to rewards but instead to new struggles. We learn lessons that are inapplicable down the road. In a video game, the narrative is clear, the goal is known, struggles reap rewards, and the sense of accomplishment one feels at beating a video game is pretty clearly a substitute for the lack of accomplishment we feel on a daily basis. Riding bikes with a computer provides a narrative in the form of a little blue line that it wants you to follow, and that's a comfortable feeling.
Using a computer encouraged me to tack on miles simply for the experience points, not because I wanted to. To my horror, it only took a matter of weeks before mileage totals became inexplicably important to me, and I became a servant to an arbitrary number of miles that I thought I needed to ride. Miles became points in a game that I could easily lose but never win.
Movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Terminator have imagined the clash between human and machine, and with artificial intelligence advancing as quickly as it is, this clash may someday move off the screen and into your woodshed (or wherever you keep your android). There is presently a danger, though, in how easy it is for a human to slide into robotic, unthinking behavior. People text and check Facebook when they drive, and they may not even be aware that they're doing it. While there is a non-zero probability that a robot from the future may appear and kill me while I'm commuting to work by bicycle, it's much more likely that a texting humanoid robot will run me over as they sift through emojis to put the perfect finishing touch on a text about a fungal infection. As someone who owns a smartphone and routinely pulls it out of his pocket without knowing why, I am not making accusations. I only mean to point out that I am already overrun with screens that beg for interaction; why would I subject myself to yet another? Especially while I am trying to enjoy a meditative, recreational activity?
For about two weeks after I stopped using the computer, I felt anxious every time I rode. It was withdrawal, but from what, exactly? For those two weeks, when I got on my bike and realized I didn't have my computer with me, I thought, "No one is going to know I took this ride." Initially, that struck me as odd. I don't share my rides on any social platform. However, the act of tracking my rides and storing the data was a way of tracking my identity. One could argue that social media is how we sell our own lives to ourselves. That's what I was doing with this computer.
When I ride now, I look around. There is no little blue line to follow, and I am free to meander through the wide open world. The experience belongs to itself, and once the ride is over it's gone forever. No one--myself included--will remember that I rode twenty-two miles today. I relinquish this fact to the past.