Making a List, Checking it Twice

It’s wishlist time! No, the reindeer are not stopping by anyone’s house, but the time for end-of-year sales, team clothing orders, cold weather riding, and planning for next season will be here before you know it. You know you’ve been yearning for a set of super fast wheels, the newest supercomputer on a stem, and that ultra light, electronic, carbon-weave thing-a-ma-jig. Sure, add that to your list, but let’s be a little more practical than that.

Will your bike fit next season? By fit, I don't mean “matches my team clothes,” but for juniors, will you look like you’re racing a BMX bike if you don’t get something that actually fits? If your bike doesn’t fit, it’s hard to ride at all, so add this to the top of the list—just be careful not to expect custom carbon.

Next, take inventory of your gear. What tools, parts, spare items, or gear are you missing? Did you find that cheap chain tool doesn’t just fail to break a chain link but actually breaks the chain? Have you gone through all your spare tubes or worn down your training tires to the casing (or will soon)? Are you limping through the season with a shifter that got shredded in a crash? Take note of all these items, as they tend to be day-to-day gear you will most appreciate replacing.

Short days and cold weather will be here all too soon. If you’re planning to ride throughout the winter, then some cold weather or indoor gear may be needed. Think back to last winter and what parts of your body froze first on those snowy rides. Write down some items to keep those body parts warm this winter. Or take my approach and just write down “trainer” or go cross country skiing—either way, you’ll stay much warmer.

Don’t forget annual maintenance on your bike. A new chain, bar tape, shifter and brake cables and housing, and any parts that are getting worn—these add up quickly so keep them in mind.

Last, that team clothing order always seems to surprise to me. So keep in mind that those are often placed in the late fall or early winter, and take account of what clothes you need and want for next year. Shorts, jersey, some matching arm warmers, a thermal jacket—they all sound totally pro but add up quickly so think about what you wear while riding 95% of the year.

With new wheels, parts, tools, clothing, and much more, you’ll probably find you have quite a lot on your wishlist. So get to work making that dream a reality. Start paying attention to end of season sales, give a few hints to your spouse, parents, or rich uncle, and don’t forget my mom’s great Christmas trick: the “To me, from me” gift.