If 2020 brought anything, it was an unexpected amount of time spent locally and at home. It feels like ages ago that we were spending seven months of the year on the road, traveling to events, races, and bike rides throughout the American West living out of our truck, grinding our morning coffee and cooking dinner under the stars. While it was and is a huge downer to be stuck at home with the Nation’s strictest Covid-19 restrictions, I cannot deny how much fun we had sticking to a radius close to our new home in the Land of Enchantment. While we didn’t do any month-long road trips, quick weekend jaunts provided plenty of inspiration as we familiarized ourselves with this beautiful state we now call home.
This year, a handful of products made my life easier in one way or another. Check out a quick list of some of my personal favorite products I used this year.
One of my anxieties about moving out of California was leaving behind a massive “maker” community, yet the more time I spend in New Mexico the more I’m turned onto small companies making rad shit. One of which is Albuquerque’s DOOM Bars, makers of custom and production MTB bars. These bars really changed the way I ride my Retrotec singlespeed…
Speaking of singlespeed. If you would have told me the bike I’d ride the most in 2020 was my Retrotec, I wouldn’t have believed you. This bike sat mostly in parts in my bike closet in Los Angeles for a few months prior to moving. I had other hardtails I was riding and a new steel full suspension I was obsessed with. While I have long been enthralled with this bike, it wasn’t until I converted it to singlespeed that my love for this bike was renewed. Later in the year, I sent it back to Curtis Inglis to convert the rear stays for a more optimized singlespeed experience and I haven’t looked back. Pro tip: if you have these Paragon Rocker dropouts, spring for the Ti hardware!
While we don’t drive to local trails all that often, It’s hard to deny the appeal of a cold beverage after a big ride on a road trip. When we would take off for the weekend to go car camping or to ride in the Carson National Forest, this CFX cooler really changed the game in terms of keeping our food cool and our drinks icy cold. You can run the CFX coolers off an auxiliary battery/12v setup or by using a mobile battery pack like a GoalZero or the Dometic PB40. Never buy ice again…
Gumwall tires have a bad rep for being too dainty for rocky trails. The Teravail Kessel smashes those preconceptions with a tough as casing, aggressive knobs, and a plump 2.6″ profile. These tires pedal incredibly well on pavement, shed mud (even clay) with ease, hook up on loose sand, and wet, slick roots alike. I cannot express my stoke enough for these tires, which checked a lot of boxes for me, including a nerdy Star Wars reference…
Once we lost precious daylight and somehow work got busier towards the end of the year, I found myself pedaling out with but a few hours of daylight left for my rides. This means I’m usually descending singletack in the dark and pedaling home through the city at night. The Light and Motion VIS 360 PRO has stayed on my helmet all season. It’s perfect for dusk riding and has a built-in rear-facing red light to help with inner city visibility. That and it weighs hardly anything.
With all the appeal of a Westy but with a Land Cruiser’s capabilities and reliability, the Alu-Cab Hercules Conversion for our Troopy turned this bush taxi into a nimble and compact RV. Now we can stand up inside the car, sleep in comfort, and set up or break down camp in minutes. This is a very niche product but its impact on our car camping is second to none. Once we’re free to travel to bike events again, it will be a game changer.
*side note about this photo: typically, you should camp, at minimum, 200′ away from any water source – rivers, ponds, streams – yet this campground is on private land and you are required to camp next to the fire ring so the staff can keep tabs on how many people are in the campground.
“Wow! It’s so small, it fits in your bike bag?” Yeah! It’s almost like the guys at Tenkara built a fly rod for cyclists because guess what? They are cyclists. No other Tenkara company makes rods compact enough to fit in even a size XS frame bag. The Beartooth never leaves my pack if we’re going anywhere near a river or stream. The bike fishing adventures we had this summer are some of the most memorable fishing experiences in my life and I can’t wait for next year’s season.
Even though Ron’s Bikes has switched to a Connecticut-based waxed canvas manufacturer for their beloved Fab’s Chest bags, I can’t help but sing the praises of my size small VX bag, made by Swift Industries. It’s been the perfect size for S24O trips, providing just enough space for the essentials, while expanding to take billowy items like a down jacket and sleeping bag.
They’re sunglasses without arms which means they’re less likely to break on you on a hike or while camping or riding. They have a built-in strap that cinches down for a perfect fit and even easier storage around your neck when you don’t need them. These sunglasses were a favorite of mine in 2020 for both on and off the bike use. The new profiles don’t fog up nearly as bad either, which has proven to be useful while wearing a mask all year.
While a full, in-depth review is on the way for this watch, I can’t help but include it in this list. I’m not a fan of on-the-bike computers, or even cycling tech for that matter, especially just for just local riding. Yet I do like to keep track of data like where I ride and compare data like how I felt versus my heart rate if for anything, anecdotal reasons. The Coros Vertix has been an all-time favorite piece of tech I didn’t even know I needed…
OMG. Every night I have a ritual. A “pop” ritual. As Cari and I unwind from a busy day, I’ll bust out the Whirley Pop, pull my kernels out of the freezer (try it!) and make a bowl of delicious popcorn with Ghost Pepper Salt from Jacobsen’s and chow down, guilt-free. These nifty devices are made in the USA and are a worthy addition to your home or camp kitchen.