12 Things You Should Never Ride Without
Posted on August 04 2016
Most of the time, there are no “bad rides”. There’s only bad preparation. You get a flat, and nobody brought extra tubes. Or you didn’t bring enough water. Or your seatpost is slipping and you don’t have any tools to tighten it up. A good ride can quickly turn into a not-so-good ride due to lack of preparation.
There are a few items you should be carrying with you on every ride that will help keep you rolling, help keep you safe, and help keep you comfortable. If you are riding with a group, never assume that someone else “has you covered”. Be self-sufficient and make sure you have these 12 things with you before you pedal away.
Inner tube in the correct size with correct valve stem length. Unless you are running a tubeless system, this sort of goes without saying. Even if you ARE running a tubeless system, it’s not a bad idea to carry a tube with you just in case. Being out in the middle of nowhere isn’t a great place to realize it’s been ages since you added any sealant to your tires and you get a flat. Make sure you have the correct size tube for your bike…especially if you are on a mountain bike. In a pinch, a 26” tube can be stretched to fit a 27.5” or 29” tire, but it’s a bit of a pain. Also make sure you have the correct tube valve stem length. With all the deep-dish carbon wheels on the market today, standard valve stem lengths sometimes don’t fit. And unless you have an adapter with you, you won’t be able to inflate the tube because the valve stem won’t be long enough. To keep the tube protected from getting damaged in my seat bag (like by a multi-tool or just from friction), I wrap it in a zip lock bag.
CO2 cartridges and inflation device. These little buggers make fixing a flat much easier since they inflate in seconds. Just make sure you don’t over-inflate and pop your tube…it’s easy to do. I’ve done it more than I like to admit.
Mini pump. Even if you carry CO2 cartridges, it’s a really good idea to carry a mini pump. If you get multiple flats in one ride and use up all your cartridges, you’re sort of up a creek without a paddle. Sure, most mini pumps don’t inflate terribly fast, but it beats the alternative of walking your bike home or back to the trailhead. I really love the Genuine Innovations Second Wind since it functions as both a mini pump and CO2 inflator.
Mini tool. Doesn’t need to be elaborate. It should contain essentials like a Phillips-head screwdriver and a variety of metric allen wrenches. Just make sure you have the right sizes to fit the bolts on your bike. Mountain bikers: if your bike has a thru-axle system, make sure you have the right size tool for the job! Otherwise if you flat, you won’t be able to remove your wheel! A chain tool is also helpful if you know how to use it.
Tire levers. Super hard to fix a flat without them.
Patch kit. If you only carry one tube in your seat bag, what happens if you get multiple flats? Yep, one of those tiny glueless patch kits comes in handy.
Dollar bills. Carrying some paper money with you can come in handy to boot a slashed tire and for that mid-ride espresso (just hope you don’t slash your tire after you’ve spent all your dollar bills on coffee!).
Hydration. I prefer to take two bottles just because you never know how long you’ll be out for. Better to have too much than not enough. I usually fill one with water and one with hydration mix.
Nutrition. I carry at least one gel or a pack of Clif Bloks even on really short rides. You never know when you’ll hit Bonk City…it’s not a fun place to be. A good rule of thumb is to consume 150 to 200 calories per hour when you are on the bike.
ID. I carry both my driver’s license and I wear a Road ID bracelet. If you crash and can’t communicate, it’s the best way for your friends and/or medical professionals know how to get in touch with your family.
Cell phone. It’s pretty safe to see we all have these little wonders, so be sure you take it with you. If you are worried about sweat ruining it in your back jersey pocket, there are some fancy cell phone bags on the market. I just use a good ol’ fashioned ziplock sandwich bag.
Benadryl or other antihistamine. If you get stung by a bee, this can help relieve any swelling. If you have bee allergies, don’t forget to bring your EpiPen!
For longer rides, take all of the above plus:
Extra nutrition. Remember, plan to consume 150 to 200 calories per hour!
Chamois cream. For a mid-ride re-application, pack a sample size chamois cream or just fill a small plastic jar with what you have at home (prescription bottles work well). Your girly bits will thank you.
An extra tube. Just in case you get more than one flat.
Extra money and/or credit card. You can only carry so much with you, so having some extra cash or a credit card helps if you need to stop at a store for water or other snacks to keep you going.
Vest and/or arm warmers or sun sleeves. If the weather is unpredictable, roll these up and tuck them in your jersey pocket. Sun sleeves are awesome because they help protect your arms from the sun and keep you cool.
Small tube of sunscreen. If you burn easily, this will be a lifesaver. Apply every 2 – 3 hours. Sun sleeves are also great for protecting your arms from the sun (plus they help keep you cool).
Another important thing to have with you on a ride isn’t actually a “thing”. It’s basic bicycle maintenance knowledge. Many women don’t ride solo because they are afraid they will get a flat or have some other mechanical issue. Learn how to fix a flat. I’ll say it again because it’s important…learn how to fix a flat! It’s not hard to do and there are so many people who would LOVE to teach you. Taking a basic bike maintenance class through your local shop is also very helpful.