Dear Father Christmas … or perhaps you are Father Christmas

This article was published in 2002, in Newsletter 45.

As this is our December issue, we recently asked our ‘camcycle’ e-mail list for ideas for cycling-related Christmas presents. If you are at a loss as to what to buy the cyclist you love, or if you think you’ve already got everything, and don’t know what to ask for, perhaps this list will help.

The most common suggestions were tools. A ‘track pump’ came high on the list. I’ve had a track pump for several years. It stays in the garage, and no member of my family has any excuse for soft tyres because it makes inflation so easy. The Topeak Joe Blow pump at around £30 is a good model, but prices start as low as £15. A ‘multi tool’ is another very useful tool to carry with you, enabling minor adjustments, even if it always seems to be other people’s bikes you are using it on! I would not advise buying cheap tools; you can mistreat good quality tools and they’ll survive.

Some books were suggested, including Cyclecraft written by John Franklin (Stationery Office Books ISBN: 0 11 702051 6). This is an excellent book which should be essential reading matter for any serious cyclist. We reviewed it in Newsletter 15.

High on the list was a cycle computer. Some models are a bit like toys, and I’ve known them have a short life. Others can monitor (and even record) everything! A cycle computer can be an encouragement to someone new to cycling, of whatever age, as it gives them a good idea of how far they’ve ridden.

Spare lamp bulbs, or new rechargeable batteries were suggested. I very much like the suggestion of an LED head torch (such as the Petzl one for £25 or so) for emergency roadside repairs. Having had to hold a bike light in my mouth whilst doing emergency repairs to mudguard in the dark, this may well be on my own list – Jane, are you reading this?

There were many suggestions for clothing to keep you warm and protected in the winter, including Gore-Tex hats and ski mittens. I’ll suggest a thin Balaclava helmet that will fit under a cycle helmet for freezing cold days.

Altura 'City Shield' overshoes

For wet commutes, a pair of Altura ‘City Shield’ overshoes are a good idea (go to and enter City Shield into the ‘search’ box). These have Velcro rear closure and plenty of room to fit over normal shoes.

I now have a Vaude ‘Cambridge’ cycle pannier/briefcase. I used to lose bits of paperwork amongst wet waterproofs in my old pannier. With the several sections and pockets provided in the ‘Cambridge’, I’m managing to keep any paperwork I carry to and from work better organised. In addition, its diagonal fixing means that even though it’s quite large, my heels don’t bang into it when pedalling. The old pannier remains: it gets used for waterproofs and things like fruit and veg from the market.

Finally, how about a gift enrolment on a bike maintenance course at Coleridge Community College (tel 01223 712340)?

Jim Chisholm