The holidays are a perfect time to celebrate the gift of cyclocross, and what better way to whoop it up than to share some ’cross love with others? Give a teammate a must-have tool (that you can borrow), introduce a loved one to the sport, drop a hint by leaving this list out for a significant other, or just reward yourself for a great season (or console yourself for a crappy one). Our editors have reviewed, tested and hand-picked a plethora of gift suggestions. Today we bring you the gloves from Giro’s new lineup, as well as socks from Giro and Darn Tough.
Avoid Finger Frostbike
As the temperature drops and Nats and Masters Worlds approaches, cyclocrossers will need to keep their digits warm and toasty. Giro’s Ambient long finger cycling gloves ($45, in white above) are rated to 40°F, and they feature a generous nose wipe that’s perfect for your favorite snot-nosed cyclocrosser, anti-microbial fleece lining, small EVA gel pads, reflective stripes and a soft Clarino synthetic leather palm. They’ve been our go-to choice when temperatures dip below 50, and the Ambient’s nose wipe might be the best nose wipe we’ve laid our nose on. They’re snug, and even though they have a Velcro wrist strap, they’re still a bit tight to slide on.
The brand new $70 Giro Pivot (pictured in black) adds a Pertex waterproof, breathable upper with a Hipora waterproof membrane and more insulation to keep you warm and dry to 35°F. It’s definitely more bulky than the Ambient, and the fingers feel slightly shorter, but waterproof warmth is should be expected to have more bulk and these gloves are far less bulky than ski gloves or lobster mitts.
Both seem to run small, especially if your racer has long fingers. Tight gloves are not warm gloves, so consider sizing up. You can be sure both gloves will accompany us to Madison.
More info: www.giro.com
Your feet need to stay warm too, and Giro and Darn Tough offer Merino wool socks to keep your feet from getting cold. Giro’s Seasonal Wool socks ($16) offer a 15cm cuff and a slip-reducing band by the arch. The 70 percent Merino wool construction offers warmth without so much bulk that your shoes get too tight — an important consideration if your goal is to have warm feet. They’re warmer than standard, thin cycling socks, and certainly better than anything containing cotton because they don’t absorb sweat or water and wick a lot better. They are not thick enough to provide sufficient warmth in normal cycling shoes when temps drop below freezing, but when combined with a winter shoe or shoe cover, they’re ideal.
The slip-reducing band is a nice touch, and helps a bit in reducing foot movement in roomy shoes. Fit seems true to size.
More info: www.giro.com
Darn Tough’s Run Bike 1/4 Crew sock ($15) is made in Vermont and brings 62 percent Merino wool to a dense, thin sock that comes with a bunch of technical features and an unconditional lifetime guarantee, an unheard of warranty for something that takes such a beating. The socks feature reinforced heel and toe areas for extra durability, but if you feel like they haven’t lived up to your expectations of an outdoor sock, Darn Tough will replace them or give you a refund. It’s a strong warranty for the American-made product.
While they might be durable socks, how do they fit? Our test socks have proven to be extremly durable and comfortable, with just the right amount of padding and warmth without making standard cycling shoes too tight. The elastic knit-in arch support is certainly a nice feature that adds a bit of foot support, in shoes or out, and on flat or high arch feet. And the undetectable toe seam is particularly nice when you’ve got a tight toe box or when you’ve got to hoof it. The 1/4 cuff may be a standard cycling length, but we might opt for the much longer cuff of the 3/4 for cold, wet days.
More info: www.darntough.com
Call it “The 12 days of Crossmas,” “The Festival of Cyclokkah” … or something similarly themed surrounding Kwanza, Saturnalia, Festivus (or your favorite winter holiday of choice) that we’re not witty enough to make sound cyclocross-related, but the gear-heads at Cyclocross Magazine have been busy digging through piles of bike stuff to bring you some great gift ideas. Most recommendations are at the stocking-stuffer-end of the spectrum, so we won’t take away from your entry-fee piggy bank. The one gift that keeps on giving, of course, is a subscription to Cyclocross Magazine! Stay tuned for plenty of gift ideas and product reviews between now and the end of the year. Some of these last-minute gift ideas also appear in Issue 15.