I had to think long and hard about my best purchase of 2008. I didn’t buy much except for staples, and it’s hard to single out the relative worth of a good cheap wippermann chain versus a Centaur cassette. And, while I really love my American Classic 58’s so far, I’m not ready to call them the shit given my truncated race season last year. Mack moved to Continental for tires a few years ago, and those were a tempting pick. The new Competition Tubular is the best race tire ever made. I have soooo much more confidence in those than in the old Vittorias. Conti also scored a big hit with the new Ultragatorskin folding tire. These really are the top training tire available. I recorded RECORD mileage on a pair of these this year, around 2,300 miles back and front. I swapped the front with the back before I ever had a flat. And, this is a tough place for tires, and my setup puts a lot of wear on the rear tire. Still, the tires are great, but I didn’t pay full pop…and WOW. The Ultragatorskins are the second price level for rugged racy trainers from Conti, and they blow for around $55. The 4-seasons go for another dime. I’ve run the 4-seasons, and the new ultragatorskins seem equal, if not better. But $55! Damn right I want 2300 miles….
I have more than a year on a pair of Pearl Izumi Amfib gloves from last year, and just bought another one before the end of the year. I’ve always loved these gloves. They have a great mix of wicking and insulation that enables them to stave off saturation, while still providing serious shelter from the wind and even a tad of rain. This new model is improved in every way. It’s much more waterproofed, while still having the same level of aeration. I should note that I’m a total fucking wimp. I know many people who can’t wear these in anything other than the most extreme conditions. Even for me, if it’s going to push into the mid 40s, these will be too much. But, if it’s really cold, these are better than the Assos system (I have it, it’s not close), and much less cumbersome than the PI Lobster Amfib (I have those, too, and I never use them…). So there it is, the ultimate glove for weenies.