Some folks might dream of sweater sets, cuff links or sugarplums, poor things, but we know the athletes on your holiday gift list really want stuff that makes them sweat.
We’ve rounded up a collection of goodies that’ll keep those cardio-happy hipsters moving at the speed of fitness. And unlike fruitcakes and eggnog, these suggestions will keep your loved ones healthy, too. What better gift could you ask for?
Mellow Johnny’s recently opened the only Rapha concept shop in the Southwest, where it peddles top-of-the-line, retro-themed clothing that’s more wool than Lycra. Think cyclo-cross jerseys with a single padded shoulder for carrying your bike across race fields or a fitted (not boxy) high-visibility cycling vest. Who knew cycling gear could be stylish, too? ($210 long-sleeved cyclo-cross jersey, matching $60 winter cyclo-cross hat, $160 women’s high-visibility pink vest at Mellow Johnny’s, 400 Nueces St.)
Want to cycle to work but don’t want to sling a backpack over your shoulders? Try this old school, eco-friendly, waxed cotton bag, perfect for stashing your laptop and lunch. Attach the bag to your handlebars with Velcro straps for the ride, then sling it over your shoulder once you arrive at your destination. ($35 at www.greatusefulstuff.com)
We love the cushy, loopy soles and snowy good looks of the Cloudsurfer Prism model of the Swiss-made On running shoes. Drenched in white, with three pairs of colorful laces, the shoes make you feel like you’re running on soft, shock-absorbing sand — except you don’t get bogged down on the push off. ($129 at specialty running stores including RunTex, or at www.on-running.com)
Sometimes the best gifts are the kind that don’t take up space on the shelf — like entry fees for a local bike ride or foot race. Our favorites include the Livestrong Austin Marathon on Feb. 17 ($120 full marathon or $100 half, prices increase by $15 on Nov. 28, at www.youraustinmarathon.com), the BP MS 150 bike ride from Houston to Austin on April 20-21 ($100; tinyurl.com/a9vepd7) and the Statesman Capitol 10,000 on April 7 ($35; www.cap10k.com).
“The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools & Techniques to Hit the Trail,” by Andrew Skurka
From trekking poles to sleeping bags, portable stoves to water purification systems, this book explains what you’ll need on the trail and what to look for when you’re gearing up. (Published by National Geographic, $19.95; available at Amazon.com or bookstores)
Dog-E-Glow LED collar and leash
Sometimes the best exercise partners are the four-legged kind. Make sure your pup stays visible if you’re walking after dark - and show your school colors, too - with this light-up collar and leash. Choose from University of Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Texas Christian and other major college versions. ($25.99 for collars; $29.99 for leashes at University Co-op and www.futurepets.com or www.dogeglow.com)
Nutcase bike helmet
Protect your shell with a funky bike helmet from Nutcase. We like this yellow taxi-cab number, but who wouldn’t want to swath their head in pink leopard skin, tie dye, polka dots or even a watermelon motif? (About $60 at specialty bike shops including Eastside Pedal Pushers and Ozone Bike Dept.).
How about the gift of flexibility? YogaYoga offers an array of classes, from hatha to flow to relaxation (unlimited classes for $99 per month, a year of unlimited yoga plus a massage for $995 or 5 classes for $55 at www.yogayoga.com). Rogue Running offers training classes that will help get you ready for a 10K run, including one geared toward the Statesman Capitol 10,000 ($182 at www.roguerunning.com). Or heat things up with a Brass Ovaries pole dancing fitness class that’ll knock your socks off ($35 for a group class; $150/month for unlimited classes at brass-ovaries.com/).
To call Privateer and Rouleur magazines is like calling Whole Foods Market a convenience store. These publications read more like books (and cost as much), and they’re packed with beautiful photos and in-depth articles on mountain biking and road cycling. You’ll read every bit of text and display ’em on your coffee table. ($20 at Mellow Johnny’s, 400 Nueces St.)
Timex Marathon watch
Runners can be obsessive when it comes to checking pace, distance and calories burned. This sweat-proof workout watch uses GPS to monitor both, and stores up to 30 workouts. Comes in black, turquoise or this chipper pink. ($99.95 at Hill Country Running, 9900 W. Parmer Lane or 215 S. Lamar Blvd., Amazon.com or REI.com)
NiteRider cycling lights
Light up your commute with a Lumina headlight — it’s the size of a tamal, clips neatly to your bike handlebars and easily recharges by plugging it into a cable that attaches to the USB port on your computer. Or opt for the less-expensive, pint-sized Lightning Bug. (Lumina series starts at $89; Lightning Bug starts at $11.95 at Bicycle Sport Shop, 517 S. Lamar Boulevard, and Texas Cycle Werks, 5300 S. Mopac Blvd., No. 501)
“Fifty Places to Bike Before You Die,” by Chris Santella
Have wheels, but need to know where to pedal? Bicyling experts including Steve Coyle, past president of the Austin Cycling Association, share their picks for the world’s greatest destinations. Among the recommendations? Through fields of tulips in the Netherlands, past giraffes in Botswana, and, yes, into the scrappy, undulating terrain of the Texas Hill Country. (Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $24.95; available at Amazon.com and bookstores)
Texas Chip Seal Embrocation
Slather on this Hill Country lavender-scented warming cream that acts as your skin’s protective barrier from cold and wind. As the shop says, “It may be the dead of winter, but your legs are vacationing in Cabo.” Made by Mad Alchemy. ($24.99 at Mellow Johnny’s, 400 Nueces St.)
Can the candy canes and stuff your sweetie’s stocking with a handful of iced gingerbread, peppermint stick or spiced pumpkin pie-flavored Clif Bars instead. ($1.39 at grocery stores and sports stores)