My Five Favourite Products of 2023
Sorry Escape Collective, I'm stealing your article idea.
This idea is definitely not stolen, merely inspired by Escape Collective (nee. CyclingTips). For years, I watched the CT and then EC crew put together an article of their favourite things of that year. It would offer a unique perspective into the personality behind the writer. Okay okay, who am I kidding, I stole this idea because I liked it so much. Sue me…(please don’t)
This year has been one of change. Looking back I cannot believe how much I crammed into twelve months. Flicking through my emails to research this article, I found original sponsorship conversations from December last year when this whole season was merely an idea in the back of my mind.
From Unbound to the Ras, Vancouver Island to a Loop of London, it has been a year to remember.
With that said, here are my Top 5 Products of 2023. Some are new, some are old, but they’ve all been great.
This seems like a cop out, but I could not live life without my laptop.
Whether it be planning race trips, booking flights, searching for Strava segments, writing, working or who knows what else, my laptop travels everywhere with me.
This year it probably got the most use ever which is probably why, after five years, it headed to the laptop graveyard this off-season. A new one was duly bought, and that is partially the reason this Substack is back up and running.
It hosts all the day-day planning for my race season and work, then there’s spreadsheets galore too. I love my laptop.
Is a race a product? Normally I’d say no, but this one is owned by LifeTime and it cost me $337.73 simply to enter the bloody thing.
As I’ve written about at length, I was determined to hate Unbound Gravel. I got into the race via waitlist, and I only entered in the first place because I thought it’d look good as a piece of content.
The race itself was hell. The logistics went badly, there was rain, hail, hiking, walking, running and a whole lot of cleaning the bike with my bare hands. But, and a big but, I loved it. There was something special about crossing the finish line at the end of a 200-mile, 10hr+ bike race.
Sitting on the kerbside at the end of the race, street food and beer in hand, it was perhaps the most at ease I’d been in years. It was one of those pinch me moments. How had life taken me from racing the road, thinking it was all over and then eventually to a small town in the middle of Kansas?
I’m hoping to be back at Unbound next season. It’s only going to be harder with World Tour pros promising to line up, but I’m excited.
At the time of writing, I have taken 40 flights this year. By the end of 2023, I will be at 42 - if I didn’t fly home for Christmas my mother would kill me.
The amount of hours I have spent on Skyscanner is ungodly. Just yesterday I spent an hour scrolling through all of my proposed flight dates for 2024, seeing what the cheapest option would be. I didn’t book anything, but that’s not the point.
Travelling is as big of a part of my life these days as racing or training. It’s that big a part, that one of our KPI’s for 2024 is taking less flights. Now, I’m not new to Skyscanner, but I’ve lost so many hours to it in the past 12-months that it has to make this list.
My Ribble Ultra TT Build
Let’s start with saying that I’m a sponsored Ribble athlete. Now that’s out of the way, allow me to gush.
Each bike has a place in my heart for a different reason. The Ultra SL road bike is effectively a TT bike in a road body, the Gravel SL has allowed me to go to new places and explore the world. Yet, my favourite bike of the year is the humble TT bike.
Okay, it’s not humble. It’s an obnoxious build and I’m proud of that.
Not since 2018, while racing as a junior have I been able to build my own TT bike. Back then, I was still in secondary school and my budget didn’t go quite as far. My new TT rig is absurd.
The standout bit of tech is of course, the Sync Ergonomics EVO PRO extensions*. They’re 3D printed titanium, they’re comfy and most importantly they look cool as fuck. The ISM PS 1.0 is a TT saddle which I was convinced had bad juju, but has revolutionised my TT riding. The Parcours Chrono Wheels handle a beaut, and are bombproof, even when I ride the bare rim against tarmac around London.
Finally, the TriRig front brake. Back in 2018, I was desperate to find a TriRig for World TT Champs but I couldn’t afford one. After a shout out on Twitter, Matt Smith, someone I’d never met, lent me one for the race. Given my build was rim brake, the teenager inside of me had to put a TriRig on it.
Every child with a small teddy, blanket, or binky. You know, the one where if it were ever to be lost, Hell would freeze over, Armageddon and who knows what more? As a child, I had Mousey, unsurprisingly, he was (is) a small mouse. Mousey is living a happy retirement at my parents house in Grimsby, I am happy to report he no longer travels with me.
For some reason, throughout 2023, the simple eye mask has taken the roll. Maybe it’s because I’ve slept in who knows how many different beds this year. Maybe it’s because I’m susceptible to any little bit of light when I’m sleeping. Maybe I’m just a big baby who needs a comforting teddy.
Whatever it is, losing my eye mask would mean the end. At the time of writing, I’m on the second of the year. My first was lost somewhere in Canada, a moment of silence please. My new one is cheap and crappy, but I love it.
I could go on all day with products that I’ve used every single day. The Shokz OpenRun Pro almost made my list, but I’ve been using those for years. Then the good old fashioned wired headphones were a shoo-in as well, they made a return to my life in 2023.
The Precision Fuel and Hydration Chews* are basically performance engineered Turkish Delight and a dream for long days in the saddle. Then there’s the Consum own brand Haribo which costs less than 90c but offers more 120g of carbohydrates per bag - the perfect training snack.
It feels rude to leave my bike bag out of this list too. I picked up a second hand Elite Borson at the start of the season, that thing makes travel 100x easier. It only missed the list because I’ve grown an intense hatred for travelling anywhere with a bicycle.
I’ve been using the Jango Rolls saddle and bar bags for a few years now, but an introduction to gravel racing allowed me to use one of their other products, the top-tube bag. This thing allows easy access for snacks while racing.
A special shout out to the bog standard Park Tool multi-tool. I need to buy a posh thing which has a chain breaker and other fancy functions at some point. Today is not that day, the trusty blue Park Tool has been in my back pocket for some 20,000km in 2023. I don’t know where it came from, sorry if I stole it from you.
The ‘ * ‘ indicates a product that is either gifted, or I am sponsored to use. But, then again I only use products I like so I promise it’s all legit.
Project TAG, proudly partnering (both for my athletic and influencing ability) with…
While you’re here…
I’ve added both paid subscription and a ‘Buy Me A Coffee’ link to this post. As the year progresses, I’m planning on building this blog and putting out articles which I’ve always wanted to write but for whatever reason, haven’t wanted to pitch.
Any money that I make from either my Substack, or BMaC link will go straight back into supporting my 2023 racing project. I am planning on keeping all content on here free to view though.
Joe Laverick is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.