Triathlon Gift Guide for Cheapskates

Every year it seems that the major magazines of the tri world come up with some type of gift guide geared toward triathletes. And while I want many of these fancy new toys as much as the next compression sock wearing, 8% body fat, type-A+ person, I can’t help but notice that these guides fail to reflect tri-Christmasy reality for those of us who don’t have a “wealth management guy.”

Have you seen the price of some of these suggestions? In this Ironman gift guide, the cheapest item suggested is a mere $224.95, and I want to meet the person who read this and said “Hey! Those $2750 wheels would make the perfect last-minute gift!” (mainly so I can befriend them and maybe get this next year).

All of these are indeed great gift ideas, but not exactly practical for a lot of us.

But un-trust funded friends and family of triathletes, don’t despair! This is what your favorite triathlete could really use for Christmas, and the priciest thing on my list is less than 50 bucks!


We like cheap food!
We like cheap food!

More commonly referred to for some unknown reason as “nutrition.” And I don’t mean summer sausages, chocolate, and green bean casserole (although I will never say no to a giant bag of wasabi and soy sauce almonds). I mean the packaged, portable, fake food we consume during races, such as:

  • Gels, ($1.00 to $2.50 each)
  • Stinger waffles ($1.50 or so)
  • Shot bloks, or other gummy things ($1.50 or so)
  • Powedered mystery drink, like Heed, Cytomax, and that ilk ($20 to $40, but that’s for a month’s worth)

While admittedly, this “nutrition” is kind of pricey for what you get (upwards of $2 for what basically amounts to 1 oz. of watered-down jelly? Ridonculous!), it’s a steal as a gift.

More importantly, your favorite triathlete will eat this stuff up (literally). We go through it like crazy, and hate spending money on it. All the makings of a perfect gift!

Coffee. Or Beer.

This is different from food. We need coffee more, I think. Think of all those poor folks getting up at Dark:30 in the morning to go to master’s swim! And for those of us who don’t subject ourselves to such absurdity, imagine how hard it is to get up 3 houra earlier than normal on race morning. Give us coffee.

If you’re in Asheville, Beanwerks does a boss job roasting, and thanks to them, West Asheville smells awesome on weekday afternoons. If you’re elsewhere, look up a local roaster, and I bet you’ll find a nice Sumatra Mandheling for about $12-16 per pound.

Why yes. Beer is a food group.
Why yes. Beer is a food group.

And what better way to carb up for a race than with a tasty pint? Take us out for a beer, or buy us a nice six-pack (no, no not our abs….we’ve got that already. Thanks for noticing!). A few of my favorites? You can’t go wrong with Highland Brewing, in my opinion. GaelicAle is always a crowd-pleaser, and Oatmeal Porter is so yummy on a cold day. Foothills Hoppyum is another standby, for the bitter ones among us.

Foot Massages.

If you’re really strapped for cash, and even if you aren’t, this gift is priceless in more ways than one. It’s no secret that we’re a little hard on our feet. And nothing feels better after a 3 hour brick than plopping down on the couch for a marathon session of How I Met Your Mother and having your main squeeze redirect such squeezing to your tired tootsies.

We need Christmas cheer too!
We need Christmas cheer too!

Make a few coupons out of construction paper (or used gel packets found in race transition areas) for 30 minute foot massages to be redeemed throughout the following race season. It’s cool if you require our feet to be clean for said coupon to be valid.

Clean Our Bike.

Triathletes are notorious for having gunky, filthy drivetrains, and it’s a true fact that our sweat is more caustic than the average cyclist’s (must be all the awesomeness). I won’t go into the reasons why we fail to clean our bikes, except to say that at least we tend to spend the most time actually riding our bikes compared to roadies and trail hogs who, I think, spend too much time standing around theorizing about riding.

So if you want a low-budget gift, give our steed a good scrubbing. Do it yourself if you know how (just don’t offend the bike in the process), or take it to a shop and pay them to do it…. that’ll probably cost you about $40.

Boring Old Bike Water Bottles.

You might think we have a ton of these, and some of us do. But the fact is, we’re also losing them all the time. And the sadder fact is, they aren’t included in race goodie bags the way they used to be. If we’re not losing bottles to the railroad track bumps, aid station hand-offs, or the evil dishwasher (I actually had a bottle melt there before), then you can be rest assured that some yet-to-be-classified species of protozoa has set up camp in the mouthpiece of our existing bottles. That foul smell doesn’t cause itself.

So pick up a couple of bottles from our favorite LBS. They’ll run you about $6 each.

I hope you’ve found this gift guide useful. Got another suggestion? Share it in a comment below! I am cheap too!

5 thoughts on “Triathlon Gift Guide for Cheapskates

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