The 12 Days of Triathlon Christmas: 12 Great Tri Gifts.

GU's Performance Energy Sampler is a great way for a new athlete to experiement with sports nutrition and a good way for experienced athletes to sample new products.

Triathletes run on their stomach and GU Brand sports nutrition is the most popular comprehensive line-up at The GU Performance Energy Sampler Pack contains 9 GU energy gels in each of GU’s flavors so athletes can sample each flavor before race day. The sample pack includes 5 of GU’s Roctane energy gel fortified with amino acids Histidine, Leucine, Valine and Isoleucine to improve endurance. There are two packs of GU’s popular Chomps energy chews, 2 ElectroLyte Brew packs, a Recovery Pack and 3 individual electrolyte tablets for long distance events.

It’s important to use energy products during training in the off season before relying on them on race day. GU’s Performance Energy Sampler provides a great cross section of GU products in one convenient package.

Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs are exotic racing equipment at dime store prices.

Earplugs? For Christmas? Really? Really.

Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs may be more important to a triathlete than a $10,000 super bike. Mack’s silicone, moldable earplugs are comfortable and conform to the inner contours of your ears. They seal out water and noise to prevent ear infections while pool training and eliminate cold water vertigo while open water swimming. The reduction in noise when wearing Mack’s earplugs also helps reduce swim anxiety.

Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs are easy to use, simply squish them over your ear opening. They mold to the shape of your ear with gentle pressure and stay put during chaotic open water swim starts. At cold water events  from Kellogg’s Ironman New Zealand with its icy swim in Lake Taupo to the SuperSEAL Triathlon in Coronado, California and even Subaru Ironman Canada, Mack’s Pillow Soft Ear Plugs will make your swim more comfortable.

This is a gift a triathlete can really use and will always appreciate. It is one of the important small things on race day they can’t live without.

The original triathlon bike improved: Quintana Roo's new Kilo C brings carbon fiber down to aluminum, entry level prices.

$1799.99 for a full carbon fiber triathlon bike with original Quintana Roo genuine triathlon geometry. That isn’t a typo.

Quintana Roo invented the triathlon bike, the triathlon wetsuit and refined their design to a greater degree over more time than any triathlon brand. The new 2012 Kilo C is one of the results. The Kilo C wasn’t possible three years ago, but economies of scale and advances in carbon fiber technology have made the dream of owning a carbon fiber triathlon bike for less than $2000 a reality.

QR didn’t cut corners on components either. A Vision ski bend aerobar provides excellent forearm comfort in the aero position. Genuine Shimano brand wheels rolling on Continental tires are reliable in training and fast on race day. The SRAM component kit is from the same company that built the components Lance Armstrong rode in his latest Tour de France campaigns and today’s champions are winning on, including Kona champs Chris McCormack and Mirinda Carfrae.

This is the most bike in our sport for the least money. It’s a super gift that takes a first or second year athlete to the next level, and insures they have you with them every race morning for new personal bests.

More people ask for De Soto 400 mile shorts than all other bike shorts combined.

The people have spoken: On triathlon forums from to the De Soto 400-Mile Short is the crowd favorite. Do a search on those forums to see the hundreds, if not thousands of recommendations. For many triathletes this is the first pair of quality bike shorts they will ever have, and the last they will ever have to own.

De Soto Sports is a U.S. company making innovative clothing as equipment here in the U.S., in the Mecca of triathlon on the California coast. Emilio De Soto, founder of De Soto Sports, sourced the pad in the De Soto 400 mile short himself, imported from Italy to his specifications and proven in the unique fit, fabric and patterning of his shorts. The short was developed and named for the difficult 400 mile, four day rides athletes do in preparation for Ironman. Hour after hour and day after day on tired muscles (and butts!) in the saddle. The De Soto 400 Mile short uses special high-compression fabric to manage fatigue and improve comfort and performance of the pad. There are no silicone leg grippers to pull hair, so whether your athlete shaves their legs or not the leg opening stays in place without pulling hair. A special feature unique to the De Soto brand, different from “roadie” bike shorts are the unique thigh mounted stretch pockets for energy gel packs and wrappers.

No other single item, incuding bike saddles, improves bike comfort as much as Emilio De Soto’s 400 mile shorts.

Cafe Dumonde smells so much like coffee it's a little weird- because its chain lube.

Don’t drink it! Cafe Dumonde bicycle chain lubricant smells like that little coffee house on the Southern French Coast you meet at to pre ride the Ironman France bike course, or the great Kona blend you drink when you finally make it to the big one.

Cafe Dumonde is 100% plant based and biodegradeable. Dumonde Racing Oils from Dumonde Tech make lubricants for bicycle and motorcycle racing. Top athletes and race teams rely on their fomulations. The unique Cafe Dumonde formulation provides extremely low friction and exceptional tenacity by bonding to metallic surfaces for long lasting friction reduction. There are over 20 applications of Cafe Dumonde in ech 2 ounce bottle, enough to last most cyclists two years.

Chain lube is a pretty boring necessity, and a rotten Christmas present- unless it smells ( and works!) this good. You won’t believe the smell; it’s the onlychain lube you can describe as “Delicious!”

Timex is the original brand in triathlon timing, their Ironman wrist watch line is the best selling in history.

It really does take a licking and keep on ticking. The Timex Ironman GPS Run Trainer is a popularly priced GPS wrist top computer and heart monitor that interacts with the Training Peaks on line training log and coaching software.

Timex uses the new SiRFstar IV high speed GPS acquisition technology for super fast positional fixes at start up and laser-guided accuracy for speed, distance and route. The watch is also compatible with ANT+ Foot Pods for indoor use.

The display screen on the Timex Ironman Run Trainer is custom configurable with up to four lines of data. The buttons are the easiest to use of any GPS watch. Hydration/nutrition alarms set to remind you when to eat and drink during long training days and in your “A” race. The Timex Ironman Run Trainer uses a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery with 8 hours of GPS battery life and 2.5 months of battery life when worn as a wrist watch. It’s water resistant to 50 meters so you can swim with the watch but, like all GPS units, satellite reception for speed and position is not available when in the water.

The Trigger Point Grid Foam Roller has the perfect density and texture to work out the kinks from long training.

Ouch. Training makes you sore.

The Trigger Point Grid Foam Roller uses a unique textured, closed cell foam with “distrodensity” zones than maintain their firmness over extended use, unlike traditional physical therapy foam rollers. Because of the firmness and strength of the design, built around a polymer internal tube to maintain shape, the Trigger Point Grid Foam Roller can be used for abdominal, upper body and back exercises as well as roller-recovery on sore muscles.

Trigger Point has told us they “can’t amke these forever” because of difficult manufacturing processes and cost, but they are still available and make a thoughtful gift for an athlete getting ready to take on a big race season. This design is so unique there is even a patent pending on it.

The best open water swim goggle. Period. Ask experienced triathletes and swimmers, they adore the Aqua Sphere Kaiman.

Triathletes love to hate their goggles. Until they try the Aqua Sphere Kaiman. I first tried the Aqua Sphere Kaiman while at a triathlon training camp in the Dutch Antilles swimming in the rough southern Caribbean. I haven’t wanted for another goggle since.

The Aqua Sphere Kaiman was designed by one of the world’s best swim companies specifically for open water swimming. It’s wild field of view makes sighting bouys easier and the generous seal prevents leaks. The strap is easily adjustable but is almost completely unbreakable and stays in place over or under your swim cap. Several dark tints are available for early morning swim starts when you are swimming into a rising, blinding sun. The medium volume even helps take the pain out of a heel or elbow to the face during a crowded swim start.

One pair of Aqua Sphere Kaimans will make them your favorite goggles for life, which makes them a great gift for every triathlete- and one they always remember when the gun goes off.

Oakley is triathlon. From the original triathletes who wore Oakley in the 1980's to their latest designs made to work in the aero position on the bike, Oakley has lead multisport eyewear technology.

They exceed the federal standard for safety glasses, are worn by Ironmen and Navy SEALs and own a unique part of triathlon history. Oakley eyewear is more than fashion, it’s technology to protect your most important sensor: your eyes.

The new Oakley Radar XL Blade Triathlon has a lens geometry and size specifically designed for optimized field of view and impact protection in the riding posture. The lens is higher carrying the glasses farther up on the face for a better field of view in the aero posture. The straighter temples conform precisely to the shape of the head for use under most aero helmets. The hydrophobic ear socks and nose piece keep the glasses in place even when emptying an aid station cup over your head while running a 6:00 mile or spray a bottle in your face at 25 M.P.H.

Like all sports-specific Oakley eyeware the Oakley Radar Blade XL Triathlon uses polaric ellipsoid lens geometry that mimmicks the constantly changin radius of the eye to eliminate distortion and reduce eye strain.

This is technology- and history- you wear.

If you buy only one triathlon gift this year: The Matt Fitzgerald's "Ironwar" is the story f the greatest race in the history of our sport.

Author Matt Fitzgerald captures one of the most iconic duals in all of sports. Kona. 1989. The Bud Light Ironman World Triathlon Championships. The two greatest triathletes in the world take to the Queen K Highway in a dramatic mana-a mano dual that harkens back to the Roman gladiators. Two men enter, one man leaves. A dynasty is toppled and a new champion is crowned. Triathlon will never be the same.

To understand this story is to understand our sport, and no one understands our sport like veteran author Matt Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald’s candor and transperancy initially drew criticism, until the book climbed to the top of Amazon’s triathlon category to the number one spot. No one can deny the power and inspiration of this story. Fitzgerald’s account of “The Dual” is so gripping you’ll test positive for adreneline while reading it. Every traithlete will love learning the history of the greatest battle in our sport, the one the commentators all refer to: the Iron War.

Zoot's CompressRx triathlon shorts go from from swim to bike to run while maintaining muscle-saving compression.

Every triathlete needs triathlon shorts to swim, bike and run in- but not every athlete likes wearing shiny Lycra fabrics. The Zoot compressRx compression tri shorts have a matt finish and graduated compression placed where the athlete needs it for best propreoception and performance in the heat of competition. The compression fabric also facilitates better recovery after training and racing.

Zoot CompressRx shorts have a longer 8″ inseam for comfort in long events and moisture management fabric that feels as good i the 11th hour of your “A” race as it does at the swim start.

Quintana Roo invented the triathlon bike in 1987. They re-invented it for 2012 with the new Illicito. founder Seton Claggett can have any bike he wants. He rode a Quintana Roo Illicito at Ford Ironman Arizona and bested his Ironman PR by nearly 15 minutes with a fastest ever bike split and an impressive 9:14:00 time.

Claggett knows that all high end triathlon bikes are developed or tested in the wind tunnel to reduce drag. He also knows they all test agonizingly close- because they all look about the same. It wasn’t until Quintana Roo removed an entire section of the rear triangle, replacing its structural integrity elsewhere, until the drag numbers shifted away from the current paradigm- and the Illicito was born.

The Quintana Roo Illicito uses one seat stay (previous bikes have two) and a fortified chainstay to manage the boundary layer of air around the bike. The logic is simple: remove part of the frame and drag goes down. Wind tunnel test white papers aside, it is elegant and unconventional engineering. So unconventional you won’t see the Illicito in the Tour de France. It’s illegal for bicycle racing, but legal for triathlons.

Quintana Roo invented the triathlon bike and everything they have learned since 1987 has been designed into the Quintana Roo Illicito. There is so much innovation and forward thinking in Illicito the competing brands will takes years to catch up, and the guys in your age category will wonder what just happened to your bike split.