Yes, 'tis the festive season again, and if your news feed is anything like mine, you'll have seen lots of lists of "gift ideas for cyclists" recently.
In times past I've rewarded myself with some big end-of-year gadget, but right now I'm finding myself curiously replete (well, maybe some more socks – and an indoor trainer with Zwift compatibility).
Out on a ride this weekend, however, my mind turned to things I really could use which you won't find in an online catalogue.
Here are a few fantasy items.
A magic water bottle
After taking part in two demanding events recently – Fitz's Challenge near Canberra and in the Snowy Mountains – I've come up with one way to improve my competition times. I've got to stop stopping so often.
But how to stay hydrated? The professionals, of course, get handed their bidons via team cars, neutral service motos and suffering domestiques, but in hot conditions this hefty punter has to stop for regular refills to offset the sweat.
Greek mythology tells of the cornucopia, a vessel that provided unending nourishment. I'll have one for cyclists, please – less than 750 grams, fitting in a bidon cage, with a toggle switch for water, electrolytes and nutrition.
A self-cleaning drive train
You know those riders who have chains and cassettes that always look like they're brand new? It's a sight that fills me with a mixture of envy and wonder.
It's one thing to give a dirty bike an occasional wash or wipe down but tackling a grubby drive train is just a hassle - and a messy one at that.
My chain looks nothing like this. Photo: Getty Images
Yes, yes, if you do it regularly it's less of an ordeal and reduces wear – or so I'm told. Dear Santa, is there a self-cleaning drive chain in your sack for me?
I ride up hills and mountains because they're there, I like the challenge and views are usually part of the bargain. I ride in the rain because I sometimes have to (and doing so ). Same for riding in the heat and cold.
But my absolute worst is a withering headwind, such as the one I recently experienced on a grim return journey along Melbourne's Beach Road after flying down to Dromana with what I should have realised was suspicious ease (sucked in, Sydneysider).
So perhaps a one-year, no headwinds free pass? I won't use it every time, promise – only when I don't have someone's rear wheel to sit on.
When it comes to tyres, durability for me is key – fixing a flat by the roadside is one of the nadirs of cycling. After going through a range of brands, I'm currently running Schwalbe Durano Plus on my racer. They're solid, but there was, for example, that screw which left a hole so big it needed the old $5 note patch trick.
Punctures, one of the nadirs of cycling. Photo: Andrew De La Rue
Tubeless tyres are winning road bike converts, especially with their self-sealing properties, but no inflatable tyre is bullet-proof and dealing with them sounds like a bit of a kerfuffle (and solid tyres are way too weird).
Another upside of guaranteed tyre survival would be not having to carry repair equipment and a pump. And I'd like those magical clincher tyres to be light and grippy, natch.
Tyre issues can, of course, be exacerbated by dodgy roads – potholes, road seams, shonky shoulders and the like. And one of the challenges of riding in Australia is that many of the best places to ride – such as rural areas or national parks – have harsh, rough, dead roads.
Some years ago, the road out to Sydney's West Head won a glorious surface upgrade, turning a rattly ordeal into a smooth roll (the hills didn't get any flatter, though). So, cycling gods, send me some more upgrades, please? I promise to clean my drive train more often if you do.
And finally …
Of course, I'd happily swap all of the above for increased care and consideration on our roads. To the best of my abilities I'll be focusing on "cycling graciously" while hoping the season of goodwill translates to better travel experiences for all.
Fairfax journalist Michael O'Reilly has written the On Your Bike blog since 2011.
Follow Michael or email him or read .
What's on your gift wish list - real or imagined? Tell us in the comments below.