Riley Polumbus: A cyclist's gift list

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Riley Polumbus

With just 17 shopping days left before Christmas, the pressure is on to find the perfect gift or creative stocking stuffer. Just because there’s snow on the ground doesn’t mean you can’t think about essential items for that special cyclist on your list.

Winter is actually an ideal time for bike-related gifts. New 2011 items just hit the shelves while the 2010 items have been moved to the clearance racks. I called four Steamboat bike shops —  Orange Peel, Ski Haus, Steam­­boat Ski & Bike Kare and Wheels — and asked for their gift ideas in the $10 to $100 range. Here’s are the top 5:

■ Bike light: Not only are lights an essential item for safety, the price range is anywhere from $10 flashing tail lights (for commuters, it’s good to have a spare) to several hundred dollars for a high-powered light designed for riding mountain bike trails at night. One item that sounded particularly exciting was the new NiteRider MiNewt 150 cordless light for $100. It’s bright and can be recharged in any electrical outlet or even through a USB port.

■ Hydration system: Cyclists need to stay hydrated, and once again you can go big or small in price. Is there a leaky bladder problem in the family? Camelbak has just redesigned theirs. The new and improved Antidote bladder ($30 to $35, depending on size) has a bigger opening, a quick turn cap and a detachable hose so you don’t have to pull your hose out of the pack to refill your bladder. Also consider a new hydration pack. Colorado backpack company Osprey makes a variety of lightweight hydration packs in the $50 to $80 range. Of course, everyone can use a new water bottle, which also fits well in a stocking.

■ Tools: Every cyclist needs a mini tool to take on rides. They range from $15 to $30. Or, for the biker who likes to tinker, consider a few essential shop tools, a wash kit for cleaning bikes and a bike repair stand.

■ Gift certificate for a tune-up: If you’re shopping for a procrastinator this could be the perfect solution. Several bike shops agree that people always wait until just before the spring trip to Fruita to get their bike tuned. By then, the shops are backed up, and the chances of getting your bike done in time are as good as me winning the Tour de France.

■ Tires: Prices start at $30 and increase from there depending on the type and brand of tire. If mountain bike treads look worn or road bike tires look cracked, it may be time for a new set. If there’s an endless collection of old tubes in your garage, perhaps consider tubeless tires.

Walk into any of Steamboat’s bike shops and ask about these items or any other bike-related gift possibilities. Whether you want to help equip a winter rider or get them thinking about summer, you will easily find a number of gifts for the stocking or to put under the tree. Happy holidays!

To reach Riley Polumbus, e-mail polumbus@gmail.com.

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