Published by Lyn on 22 March 2011
Now this blog is in no way directed at my other half and our mini-cyclist (or maybe two mini-cyclists by the time you read this), but I thought it timely to write a list of gift ideas for all the cycling mums out there. (If my other half wants to take note, then all the better.)
It's Mother Day in the UK on Sunday, April 3, and female cyclists are sometimes forgotten when it comes to cycling gift lists. Lots of must-read Tour de France book lists pop up around Father's Day (we got in early, though, and ours is a list for everyone), along with the obligatory list of gadgets and cycling kit, but sometimes people (usually marketers) forget that we girls quite fancy bike-related surprises too.
And to all the dads and mini-cyclists out there: if you can't work your way through this list by April 3, you can always have another go in time for the French Fete des Meres on May 29, or for the second Sunday in May if your mum is in Australia (like mine is), the US or Canada. There's a list of other dates here, though I can't verify them all.
Books that make great gifts
Cyclepedia: A Tour of Iconic Bicycle Design is a delicious new coffee table release from Thames & Hudson that celebrates 90 years of bicycle design. Beautiful pictures and wonderful text from Michael Embacher (who has road-tested each of the 100 bikes himself) combine to produce a work of art and inspiration. Beware the dad who buys this one for mum and secretly hides it away for himself.
A perfect companion for the perfect bicycle design book above, It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness On Two Wheels follows Robert Penn's quest to build his own perfect machine. It's an elegant and poetic mix of bicycle history and design, telling the story of the bike while at the same time illustrating Penn's love and devotion to cycling.
The new Cyclepedia release shouldn't be confused with the equally excellent Cyclopedia: It's All About the Bike by William Fotheringham, author of Put Me Back on my Bike: In Search of Tom Simpson and the fascinating Fallen Angel: The Passion of Fausto Coppi. Cyclopedia is perfect for dipping in and out of: a mix of miscellany and useless but intriguing facts and figures, combined with lots of history and plenty of good humour.
If you think Mum might like a Tour de France book, then try A Race for Madmen: The Extraordinary History of the Tour de France by Chris Sidwells. It's one of my new favourites, and I'd highly recommend it to cycling fans regardless of their level of Tour knowledge. It's a perfect introduction to the Tour's history, but has enough fresh content and original stories to provide even the best-read Tour fan with a fresh perspective. Another for Tour fans, especially those following the Tour this year, is The Tour is Won on the Alpe: Alpe d'Huez and the Classic Battles of the Tour de France. With the Alpe set to be climbed this year towards the end of the Tour, it will again play a big role in determining who wears the Yellow Jersey into Paris.
I also really like Olympic Gangster: The Legend of José Bayaert – Cycling Champion, Fortune Hunter and Outlaw by Matt Rendell and Paul Howard's Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape: The Remarkable Life of Jacques Anquetil, the Five-Times Winner of the Tour de France because they're both slightly off-beat cycling books that tell improbable, you-couldn't-make-it-up-if-you-tried tales that are all the better because of it.
For French cycling inspiration, you could do worse than buy her a guidebook to help plan her next cycling holiday in France. For overviews and route suggestions, check out Lonely Planet's Cycling France, the Cicerone guide Cycle Touring in France by Stephen Fox, a Freewheeling France contributor, or Cycling Southern France by Richard Peace (another of our contributors who really knows his stuff).
If she's more a gentle meanderer than a long-distance tourer, try Brittany's Green Ways: A Guide for Cyclists and Walkers by Freewheeling France contributor G.H Randall or Cycling the Canal du Midi, another Cicerone guide, this time by Declan Lyons.
For travelogues, French Revolutions by Tim Moore is an oldie but a goodie; more tenuous is Dervla Murphy's Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle, re-released last year by Eland. Tenuous because she only touches on France after she lands in Dunkirk and heads east but, let's face it, the woman is a cycling legend.
Other nice things to read
I've put together a list of magazine subscription ideas – I like getting subscriptions because the mags keep arriving in the post all year and can be passed on to others when I'm done. There are some great travel magazines dedicated to France to give mum some ideas for cycling trips this year (or next).
On the cycling front, there's a more diverse range, from magazines aimed at racing and pro-cycling fans through to more introductory reads for newer cyclists. My personal favourite is Rouleur magazine, with The Ride Journal a close second. See our full list of cycling magazines (and please let me know if I've missed any good ones).
Blowing the budget on Mum
The Garmin Edge 800 GPS computer can be a girl's best friend as well as a boy's toy. It comes on its own or with a navigation bundle that takes in France and the rest of Europe. See the Wiggle or Garmin stores for more gadget ideas.
Here's an idea unashamedly directed at my other half and our mini-cyclist/s – perfect for both the school run and family touring. The Adventure AT3 two-seater trailer or the more expensive Burley Bee would be just great; if you're feeling particularly flushed, you could always splash out on the Burley Encore (pictured above).
And if all else fails...
... you could always go down the gift voucher route and let her choose something herself. Wiggle, Chain Reaction Cycles and Evans Cycles all have vouchers online, as does the eco-friendly clothing store, REI.