Disaster can sometimes strike when you’re out cycling. Changeable weather, punctures, mechanical gremlins or accidents can all wreak havoc on the best laid plans. The key to not finding yourself stranded on the roadside is to stay fueled, and be prepared with the right tools and clothing.
We’ve all made the mistake of heading off for a ride unprepared. Whether it’s foul weather, a puncture or even the proverbial bonk that stops us in our tracks, it always pays to pack the essentials. In this post we take a look at some of the items you shouldn’t set off for a ride without.
BE PREPARED FOR WHEN YOU PUNCTURE
The most important things on your list should be a pump, a set of tyre levers and a spare inner tube (or better yet, bring two). Punctures are the most likely problem to strike out on the road, and you can bet the day you forget your pump is the day you’ll flat.
Some riders take a puncture repair kit with them. It makes sense on long rides or on multi-day cycle touring, but replacing a tube is a lot quicker than searching for that elusive hole and patching it on the roadside. Tubes can be repaired later once you’re safely home.
Many swear by CO2 inflators over pumps. There is no doubting their convenience, as inflating a tyre in a matter of seconds saves time and effort over using a pump. However the downside is of course the one-time use and the associated cost. Many cyclists bring a pump along with inflators, to hedge against any extreme bad luck on a ride.
Whichever you favour, make sure you bring a pump or inflator with you on every ride. Don’t be the guy stuck on the roadside with no way home as night falls.
ONE TOOL FOR ALL JOBS
While flat tyres are the most common problem you may run into out on the road, there are plenty of other minor mechanical gremlins that can rear their heads mid-ride. One tool is particularly useful in this case, and it’s called a multi-tool.
With a variety of Allen keys, screwdrivers and torx heads, a multi-tool can get you out of a hole when bad luck strikes. A good multi-tool will allow you to make on-the-fly adjustments to things like seat height and cleat alignment. It’s a small tool that packs a punch and one that should always be stored in your saddle pack
STAY WARM AND DRY
You just never know when the weather is going to take a turn for the worse. For all-day rides, or for shorter trips if the forecast is uncertain, then lightweight, packable waterproof gear is your best bet. A waterproof jacket can be easily carried in your back pocket in case of rain.
If riding into the evening in cooling temperatures, take a gilet with you. They too can be easily stowed in your back pocket until the temperature drops. Don’t underestimate the effects of windchill. On long descents and in the early evening the gilet will help you maintain your core temperature.
STAY HYDRATED, STAY FUELED
Cycling is an intense sport. If you ride for over an hour and a half you can expect hunger to kick in at some point. A banana or flapjack makes an excellent mid-ride snack and will give you that much needed energy boost. Other options to keep yourself fuelled include energy gels and bars.
Even if you don’t require food, fluids are essential on all but the shortest of rides. Take at least one bottle on your bike, or two if you’re planning a longer ride. Water will keep you hydrated, but energy drinks will keep you fuelled. On hot summer days, electrolyte drinks will replenish the minerals lost through sweat.
BE PREPARED IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY
Always take a little cash with you on a ride. If you have a mechanical problem you can’t fix at the roadside, at the very least you’ll be able to pay for a ride home. An emergency stash of cash also means you can buy food and drink if you underestimate your fueling needs.
If the worst case scenario plays out and you are involved in an accident while out riding, then having some form of ID is a must. Nowadays in our interconnected world, one of the simplest ways is to set up an ICE contact (In Case of Emergency) on your phone. Apps can be used for this purpose where your personal details and a contact can be easily viewed on the locked screen.
If there’s any chance you’ll be out after dusk, carry lights and reflective clothing with you. Small LED lights weigh next to nothing but could help keep you safe in fading light.
It may sound like a lot, but between your saddle pack and jersey pockets, there should easily be room for all the essentials.
With punctures, mechanical mishaps, hunger and emergencies taken care off, you can get on with what really matters, enjoying your ride.