Forget any one of the following cycling gear and you’re setting yourself up for a struggle home! If we’re honest, we’ve all forgotten at least two of these road cycling essentials if not all of them on rare occasions. The question is, would you go back to collect one these if you forgot them?
I’d never ride a bike without a helmet though. Yes, on odd occasions I’ve left the house with a balaclava on forgetting I’m not wearing my helmet! I’ve always turned back to collect it. However, with other cycling gear, I admit I’ve gone without – and I’ve taken a risk. Most times you can get away with it, but other times you can really kick yourself for not bothering, or forgetting.
Obviously there’s other cycling road essentials you’ll need to remember depending on the time of year and weather. For now though, these 7 road cycling essentials are what I consider a bare minimum to remember for each and every ride – no matter the weather, no matter the time of year:
1. Fluid - Water (if under an hour)
You’ll need fluid on every ride you do, even if it’s 30-45 minutes. Dehydration whilst riding a bike is only just round the corner, so you should take small sips every 10-15 minutes. For a more detailed post on what to drink on longer rides, please read: How To Hydrate On A Long Bike Ride
As you’re starting out, don’t worry too much about special powders to put in bottles you see in bike shops. Remembering to drink water on route should be your first goal. Drinking from a bike bottle whilst cycling can seem daunting at first. Like everything it requires practice.
Never take your eyes off the road as you use and replace a bottle. If using a bottle is hard to concentrate on right now, you can use a water back pack (known in shops as a camel back). This water sits on your back and a tube comes round your front where all you do is suck the water through a small mouth piece.
2. Inner Tubes, Levers and Allen Keys
As a cyclist you will have to learn how to mend a puncture before you go out cycling! You want to learn to mend a puncture first in the comfort of your own home. There is a simple solution to not forgetting your repair kit – have it attached to the bike in the first place!
The way to attach the repair kit to the bike is to put it all in a saddle bag, which fits snuggly under the saddle. In the bag you should have as a minimum:
3. A Mini Portable Pump
You should always carry a pump with the appropriate valve when cycling (if applicable). If you change bikes often, make sure your bike pump valve fitting is adaptable to your tires. Attach your pump to the bike frame and keep small valves (if need be) in your saddle bag.
4. Lightweight Rain Jacket
Cyclists take rain jackets with them on most rides for a number of reasons:
Your waterproof cycling jacket needs to be able to fit snuggly in your back jersey or jacket pocket. This enables it to be easily accessible when it’s needed.
5. Food for Fuel
After about an hour of riding (sometimes sooner), the body starts running out of energy. Signs you are running short on energy on the bike can be:
To keep your energies topped up on a bike ride, take ‘cycling friendly food’ with you. Excellent cycling friendly foods consist of slow release carbohydrate like: cereal bars (oat based), flap jacks, bananas, dried fruit, fruit cake and sandwiches. All of these you can buy in the supermarket and are easy to carry with you.
As a general rule, eat every 20 minutes after the first hour of riding. For a more detailed post on what to eat on long bike rides, please read: What To Eat On Long Bike Rides
Choosing chocolate bars are not cycling friendly, as firstly these will melt in your back pocket. Secondly, they are full of sugar which will give you quick release energy, leaving you out of energy again about 20-30 minutes later!
6. Money And A Charged Up Mobile Phone
You never know when you might need cash for a taxi home, need to buy food or need a break to have a nice cup of tea and scones half way round! 🙂
A phone is useful for the unexpected if you get lost on route, need a lift home or need to phone the police
If riding alone, always let someone know what route you’ve taken and how long it might take.
7. Personal ID!
Never leave for a bike ride without some form of personal identification. In case of accident, how can anyone know who you are or who to contact in case of an accident? I have a mini plastic sleeve and in it is my address and phone numbers to reach next of kin. (In Switzerland, you are obliged to always carry a national ID card or passport wherever you go. I now simply take my national ID card with me).
So these are my 7 road cycling essentials I take on every ride! What essential road cycling essentials have you forgotten in the past? Can you better my list of absolute essentials here? What stories do you have of forgetting one of the items above? I’d love to hear from you, so comment below...