Each year, we put together our series of holiday gift guides disguised as our own wish lists. They’re also sort of like our version of an “Editor’s Choice” awards, only less formal. These are just the products we’ve seen and possibly tested this year that stood out in some way. Each of us have our own riding style, different terrain and unique preferences, but between us we represent a pretty good spread of the general cycling public. Each one is prefaced with a bit about us so you can see if your own style (or that of a favorite cyclist in your life) matches up.I’m Tyler, and I like bikes. I ride road long and slow, XC mountain bike on flat-to-rolling singletrack with the occasional trip to the big mountains of Pisgah, NC, and my cyclocross bike sees use year ’round as a commuter, adventurer and generally fun bike to ride. I race only a few times a year, and only for fun, but I still like to see how well I can do and how far I can push myself and my equipment.AN EXPERIENCEGifts come and go, but experiences last a lifetime. So, topping our lists this year is the experience each of us would most like to have. For me, that’s a framebuilding class at Metal Guru. After meeting Vicious Cycles founder and Metal Guru owner Carl Schlemowitz at the Philly Bike Expo this year, his program stood out in that it brings in well known builders like Steve Bilenky and others to teach classes. Choose from steel welding or brazing and you’ll leave the 68-hour class with your own unique frame.ROAD / GRAVEL / CYCLOCROSS BIKEPhoto from GT Grade product launch.Honestly, my wants are equally split between the 2015 GT Grade and Jamis Renegade. I’ve ridden both and love both. The GT is a bit better looking and a bit sportier feeling, a bit lighter and a bit speedier. The Jamis is rock solid, has an incredibly burly frame that plows through everything, has rack and fender mounts, and a powerfully upright riding position with one of tallest stacks I’ve ever seen. Both are very comfortable on long rides over rough terrain. My inner speed demon leans toward the GT, but my practical side says the Jamis.MOUNTAIN BIKEI’ve been riding the Niner JET 9 for three generations of their frame. From the 2nd gen alloy model to the first carbon one to the 2014 RDO. I’ve also test ridden the latest alloy model. I have three of them as personal bikes that I use to test all manner of parts, and they’ve been raced hard, ridden long and put away dirty. Sure, they have their quirks (cable routing being a notorious one), and there are some bikes that do some things better. But I’ve found the JET 9 to do virtually everything really well. And everyone that’s borrowed one from my fleet has come away impressed. It climbs fast, descends fast and will rip through the flats as fast as your legs and lungs will take you…yet it’s plenty nimble on slower days, like when I’m riding with my son. It’s not lost on me that I haven’t actually done a formal review of the JET yet, but consider this endorsement my vouch for the bike as the ultimate all-around XC bike regardless of which frame material it’s made of.COMPONENTMy component of choice would be something one-by. I’ve tested several of Absolute Black’s chainrings and been very impressed on both my cyclocross bike and my mountain bike. I’ve also been running OneUp’s RAD cage in an otherwise Shimano drivetrain and enjoyed the increased range it provides on the steep Blue Ridge ascents. Collectively, we’ve also tested 1x conversion parts from Wolf Tooth Components. Regardless of the brand you choose, there’s a reason why so many riders are dropping the front derailleur for ‘cross and MTB, and subbing in a narrow/wide chainring on your existing crankset with an oversized cassette cog or cluster in the rear is an economical way to test the waters.GEARAlso on the list of items I’ve been using for years but never formally reviewed is the Kali Maraka XC helmet. I’ve had it for a couple years now (two of them, actually) and it’s still one of my go to lids between reviewing others. It’s light, comfortable and packed with impressive safety features. Plus the guys behind the brand are very cool and very passionate about what they’re doing. The Maraka comes in an XC version (shown) and a road version without the visor, which is surprisingly difficult to remove (it’s not actually meant to be removable). The rear straps do need to be held just right when putting it on, but it’s a small nitpick to an otherwise fantastic helmet. And if you have kids, their youth helmets are some of the best fitting and best looking kids helmets we’ve tried!KITDespite talking to CD at virtually every tradeshow about Rapha’s clothing, it’s taken many years to actually acquire a set for my own use. And it was worth the wait. No, Rapha’s clothing isn’t just about marketing a lifestyle, it’s actually damn fine kit. I broke in the Pro Team (shown) and Lightweight/Super Lightweight jersey and bib shorts at the Baller’s Ride this summer. Was it smart to bring brand new, untested clothing to a 50+ mile ride designed to break spirits and wheels? Perhaps not, but it performed flawlessly, keeping all parts of me comfortable throughout the weekend. If you’re the type that prizes quality over quantity, that buys a couple nice things whose initial purchase price amortizes over years of enjoyment, then the Rapha lifestyle is calling.SHOESNow that I have a few cool weather rides in the Giro Alpineduro riding boots, I’ve gotta say, they’re pretty slick. When I first put them on, they have the same snug, narrow fit of other Giro shoes, which worried me since I’d likely be wearing thicker socks with them. But, once on the bike, they feel amazing and warm enough for rides that dip into cooler weather. How cool? So far I’ve ridden them in the high 40’s and low 50’s (ºF) and they’ve been great. I’ll report back at the end of the week for colder, wetter rides. They’ve kept the water out through a few deep stream crossings and held securely on damp log bridge scrambles, too.…and three small thingsIn a past life, I spent way too many hours sitting in a car. And now, I spend a fair amount of time sitting typing or in a bent over cycling position. Add it all up and tight hips, glutes, hamstrings and psoas muscles end up causing muscular imbalances and mis-fires all up and down the posterior chain and into the traps and lats. The solution has been the Trigger Point Therapy foam roller and massage ball/roller kit.I still travel a lot, and with every trip I try to see if I can pack less than the time before. Wool underwear helps, because it’s easily washable and, when necessary can occasionally be worn multiple times between washings…or, um, so I’ve heard. I’ve used underwear and undershirts from WoolX and Icebreaker for years now and love both. I favor Icebreaker’s underwear just a bit, and they have more styles and colors to choose from. The WoolX t-shirts are longer, are a bit more fitted and stay tucked in better, particularly important since I’m 6’2″.Lastly, Rapha’s shave cream is simply amazing. It smells amazing, works amazing and you only need the slightest bit of it, which helps take the sting out of the price a bit. I’ve managed to milk several months out of a single jar using it for both face and legs by being stingy.
Senator Bill Doyle (R-Washington) has released results of his Town Meeting Day survey, with voters supporting a cell phone ban while driving, an increase in the minimum wage and labeling GMO foods, while being torn about the legalization of marijuana, wind turbines and the new health care law.Senator Doyle has been conducting this survey for 44 years. Over 13,000 returns were tabulated from 155 Vermont Cities and Towns. It is an unscientific poll and non-binding, but it has regularly matched hard polling data and often jibed with what ultimately comes out of Montpelier.Doyle said this is the most response he’s ever had to the iconic poll. He said seven or eight of the questions are still in play in the Legislature.”The cell phone issue is very big right now and I think it’s going to pass,” Doyle said. He said the opiate problem, legalizing marijuana and the minimum wage are much on the mind of the public and of lawmakers. He also thought the question on affordability was revealing.”Vermont is losing out on being an affordable place to live,” he said, as housing is relatively high and wages are relatively average.The results, in percentages, follow: YES NO UNDECIDED1. Prohibiting drivers from using cell phones 74% 19% 7%2. Legalization of marijuana 44% 45% 11%3. Wind turbines on Vermont ridgelines 48% 33% 19%4. Increasing minimum wage 71% 20% 9%5. Concern about opiate use 89% 5% 6%6. Reducing prison population for non-violent offenders 71% 17% 12%7. GMO: should food products with genetic engineering be labeled 76% 15% 9%8. Do you believe Vermont is an affordable place to live 26% 60% 14%9. Is statewide cell service and broadband important to the future of Vermont’s economy 87% 5% 8%10. Is natural gas an important part of Vermont’s economy 55% 21% 24%11. Should Vermont have a state bank 23% 38% 39%12. Do you believe Vermont healthcare is moving in the right direction 41% 38% 21%13. Are education costs unsustainable 69% 18% 13%14. Does the federal government collect too much information on the lives of citizens 69% 17% 14%
Tipperary feature in the All Ireland Minor camogie semi final this afternoon.Galway stand between them and a spot in the final.Throw in is at 2.30 in Banagher – and we’ll have live updates here on Tipp FM.
With Opening Day now only days away, we continue to take a look at a member of the 2015 Orioles every day as they try to defend their American League East title this season.March 9 – Adam Jones March 10 – Chris Tillman March 11 – J.J. Hardy March 12 – Zach Britton March 13 – Chris Davis March 14 – Wei-Yin Chen March 15 – Jonathan Schoop March 16 – Travis Snider March 17 – Kevin Gausman March 18 – Alejandro De Aza March 19 – Tommy Hunter March 20 – Manny Machado March 21 – Brad Brach March 22 – Steve Pearce March 23 – Darren O’Day March 24 – Caleb Joseph March 25 – Wesley Wright March 26 – Delmon Young March 27 – Miguel Gonzalez March 28 – Ryan Flaherty March 29 – Ubaldo Jimenez March 30 – Everth Cabrera March 31 – Bud Norris April 1 – Matt Wieters April 2 – Jimmy ParedesLHP Brian MatuszOpening Day age: 28Contract status: Under club control through the 2016 seasonMinor-league options remaining: None2014 stats: 2-3, 3.48 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 9.2 K/IP, 7 HR, 51 2/3 inningsWhy to be impressed: Even if Matusz never lived up to the potential of being a first-round pick in 2008, he’s carved out a nice role as a lefty specialist with a career 3.26 ERA pitching in relief and struck out 9.2 batters per nine innings while holding lefties to a .223 average in 2014. The southpaw was stretched out this spring, posting an exceptional 1.88 ERA and striking out 12 in 14 1/3 innings of work to draw interest from other clubs. Why to be concerned: A $3.2 million salary is less than ideal for a reliever who surrendered an .876 on-base plus slugging percentage against right-handed hitters a year ago. With a crowded bullpen that now includes fellow lefty Wesley Wright, Matusz doesn’t possess as much value to manager Buck Showalter considering he is often used for only a batter or two.2015 outlook: It’s no secret that the Orioles shopped Matusz all spring with the New York Mets appearing to be a potential suitor before they ultimately turned elsewhere for left-handed relief help. Matusz now appears more likely to begin the regular season in Baltimore, but the decision to tender him a contract this winter remains a puzzling one as the organization tries to figure out what to do with a surplus of bullpen arms. If he sticks around, Matusz is good for an ERA around 3.50 in which he gets the best of left-handed hitters and is kept away from righty sluggers as much as possible.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco still doesn’t know exactly when he’ll be back on the practice field, but the goal of being ready for the start of training camp remains in his sights.Less than five months after undergoing surgery to repair the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee, the 31-year-old is running — not yet at full speed — and says he feels little tentativeness except when trying a new movement for the first time in the long rehabilitation process. But he also understands the need to be cautious, wearing a brace as he continues to strengthen the knee and always focusing on the big picture of being ready for the start of the season.“I feel good. I’m getting better and better,” Flacco said. “I still feel improvement week to week. We’ve never really set a timeline out and said I’m going to be back at ‘this point,’ but I think it’s still going really, really well. Over the past three weeks, I’ve started to feel some big improvements so, I feel good about it.”With the Ravens beginning their offseason workout program on Monday, Flacco joked about how much quieter it was in the team’s training facility in Owings Mills all offseason when it was just him and a handful of others rehabbing from injuries. He also admitted that the first couple days of meetings have felt redundant as he will start consecutive seasons with the same offensive coordinator, Marc Trestman, for the first time since his first five NFL seasons with Cam Cameron, a positive in overcoming his anticipated absence during spring organized team activities.But Flacco knows he has much work to do in order to be ready when training camp opens in late July.“I can do everything pretty much,” said Flacco, who cited how much work must be done to the rest of the body to get in sync with the knee. “It’s just a matter of how well I can do it and do I have a little limp here and there. We do little agility [drills]. It’s not like I’m running full speed and cutting on it and things like that, but I’ve got a good amount of things that I’m allowed to do. I go out on the field and run, wear my braces and all that good stuff.”Asked about his level of apprehension with his front leg when throwing, Flacco acknowledged that he hasn’t done much passing, but he is moving closer to the time when he’ll be picking up a football more frequently. For the time being, he’s been playing catch here and there from about 15 yards.Flacco looks forward to the time when he’ll be able to air it out to get a better feel for newcomers such as speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace and veteran tight end Benjamin Watson, but he isn’t overly concerned if that doesn’t happen before late July.It’s apparent where the Super Bowl XLVII MVP’s head is as it relates to being back on the football field.“At the end of the day, training camp is going to be enough time,” Flacco said. “I’m pretty sure I’m probably not going to get a ton of time before that, so that’s going to be enough time. You’d like to get as much as you can, but that will be plenty to get going.”