The misgivings are primarily centered around the food, which I will eat too much of and be unable to burn off because the weather outside is frightful ... and the prospect of two even more crappy months of cold, where getting out for long rides will entail lots of warm clothing and/or frozen body parts.
I can't do much about the weather ... at least, not until I perfect the lasers on the RandoSatellite. Once that's working right, I will warm up the atmosphere wherever I am, so that I can always enjoy a glorious 80 degrees. Of course, the butterfly effect will come into play -- probably such that butterflies will become brain-eating zombies and soon rule the world -- but at least I'll get in a good ride. And a planet overrun with butterflies would be really, really pretty. It would be even better with some unicorns ... except the butterflies would eat them, too, unless the unicorns could stab them first.
So, until I solve the energy-displacement issue surrounding argon lasers, the best that I can do towards making the world a better place (at least, during this time of pre-butterfly apocalypse) is suggest a few stocking-stuffers for the cyclists in your life.
- Toe Warmers. Your local bike shop has them, or you can pick up a case of them at Costco. Tell your cyclist to stick them on the outside of her socks -- maybe with another pair of socks over them -- just before the start of the ride. This will help keep the blood going to her toes for the next six hours -- which is good, because not even mutant butterflies like to eat dead toes.
- Glove Liners. Very often during the winter, you start a ride when it's about 40 F outside, and it will warm all the way up to 60. On these days, your cyclist can put a pair of glove liners on under his cycling gloves at the start of the ride. This will keep his hands warm, but still let him get the full benefit of shock-absorption, protection, and nose-wiping chamois from his usual cycling gloves. When it warms up, he just has to take off the liners, roll them up, slip them into a jersey pocket, and ride on wearing only the cycling gloves. Note: Tell him to wear the liners with that pair of cycling gloves that's a little too big, so things don't get too tight.
- Hand Warmers. In the store, right next to the toe warmers, probably made by the same company, are chemical hand warmers. On days when it's just above freezing when the ride starts, your cyclist should put these inside his glove liners, on the back of the hand, to warm the blood going to the fingers.
- Triple Tube. This is probably the most versatile way to keep any part of your cyclist's head warm. Rivendell makes the one that I use, and I carry it on any brevet where the temperature may dip below 60 F. It rolls up to nothing, keeps the cold out down to about 25 F, and can even be put on in such a way that it won't mess up your hair. Try that with a balaclava.
- Jimi. This plastic wallet made by Koyono is much better than a ziploc baggie for toting ID and cash. I carry one with an expired driver's license (I don't need to drive with it, since I have a bike -- I just want to be able to prove I am who I say I am), and $30. For rides over 300K, I'll also put in a bank card. It takes up almost no room, and nothing gets soggy from sweat. I only wish that they made one that was just big enough for a brevet card.
- Lantiseptic. This is the best taint paint for ultracycling, ever. Jeff Bauer is one of their spokesmen, and appears in some of their ads. This stuff does not come off in the rain, in gallons of sweat, or after a couple of hundred miles of riding.
- Batteries. This time of year, there isn't much daylight, and your cyclist had better bring lights even on a 200K. A spare set of batteries doesn't weigh much, and if it turns out that he needs them they are as good as gold.
- Zip Ties. An assortment of these in your bag can save your cyclist's ride. If she loses a screw, a zip tie may serve as a short-term replacement. If something is rattling, she can probably snug it up. If her headlamp breaks, she can get a flashlight at a Mapco and zip tie it to the handlebars. Imagine the possibilities.
- Big Box of Patches and a Tube of Glue. Inner tubes are expensive, and other riders seem to always want to throw them away after they've gotten a flat. Maybe they get them free from their sponsor, but if the cyclist in your life has not yet turned pro, he should offer to "dispose" of his friend's tube and take it home. He can then patch it, test it, and put it in his saddle bag for the next time. It's environmentally sound and it's cheap ... and that's a killer combination.
- Citrus-Based Degreaser and Cleaner. Again, you can get this at your local bike shop or Home Depot or Costco. Tell your cyclists to use it sparingly, because it can eat away grease in places that grease needs to be. Used properly, however, it will make his bike look better, ride better, and last longer.
So there you have it. Nothing says, "I love you, and understand your need to ride off into the frozen wasteland for hours on end, abandoning your dear family to the ravages of killer butterflies," as well as gifts like these.