Essentials for a training ride

Sunday’s training ride was an enjoyable 126km in sunny weather round the Surrey Hills. It took a bit longer than planned due to an unseasonal outbreak of punctures for Simon – 6 in total and we couldn’t figure out why. He gave up trying to fix them at Dorking and took the train home.

So it reminded me that there’s a checklist of kit you should always carry when going out for a ride that will take you beyond walking distance of home. Some people carry everything they might need to rebuild their bike, others carry so little it’s a wonder they survive.

  • Pump. Do not leave home without one. By all means carry CO2 cartridges but, if you run out of them, it’s a long walk home. I’d recommend this one: Zefal HPX Pump Size 3 (21-23 53.5-58.5). It fits on your frame, it may not look sexy but it does the job fast and well. Which is what you want when you are standing by the roadside on a wet, freezing winter’s morning.
  • Inner tubes. Tubes, plural. Always carry two. I usually use these ones: Specialized Inner Tube (Presta, 700×20-28) which are fairly standard ones. Make sure they have the right length of valve for your rims as there’s nothing worse than getting ones that are too short.
  • Patches. If you run out of tubes you’re going to need a patch. Carry them: Park Tools Puncture Repair Kit Super Patch – These little babies are transparent and easy to apply. Plus they take up about as much space as a bottletop.
  • Tyre levers. Old spoons will do the trick but they tend to rattle. You’ll need them for getting the tyre off. Try these ones: Park Tools TL2C Tyre Levers
  • A multitool. Should have allen keys of varying sizes, flathead and phillips screwdriver at the bare minimum. THis blighter has that and a lot more: Park Tools Rescue Tool MTB 3

You will of course need something to put these things in. So get a saddle bag rather than shoving them in your pockets which should be full of food (I’m coming to that in a moment). This one should do nicely: dhb Saddle Bag (Black/Red) Although you can get bigger if you fancy. I keep it compact because otherwise it’s just going to be half full and rattle.

Food and water are essential. If you are going to ride for two to four hours you will need both. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a dolt and the wrong person to take advice from.

You should always have at the minimum a litre of fluids with you. That’s two standard size water bottles of 500ml. Most people, quite sensibly carry two larger 800ml bottles on a training ride. They should be full when you start the ride and topped up whenever possible. There’s no excuse for not carrying enough water and you will feel like an arse if you run out miles from anywhere. Some people like to use energy drinks but water will do just fine. Primarily it’s about keeping hydrated, not keeping your energy levels up even if that is an easy way to do so.

Food should be small enough to fit in your jersey pockets. Bananas are a classic staple of the cyclists diet, as are flapjacks. Solid food is better than energy gels which should be a food of last resort for an instant hit when things are tough. Solids will fill you up so you feel fed rather than continually empty in the belly. I carry cereals bars rather than flapjacks because I’m too lazy to make them at the moment. Also a bag of jelly babies for a treat now and again doesn’t go amiss.

Always carry enough loose change to buy a mug of tea and a permit to travel. The former is a regular feature of most club runs as there’ll be a stop for tea and cake about halfway round. The latter is an infrequent emergency but, occasionally, you’ll find there’s a need to catch the train home from some remote station due to injury, accident or irreparable damage to bike. Some people carry a bank card as well for covering such incidents.

Carry a mobile phone if you are going out on your own. You may need to call for help one of these days and that’s usually the one when you forget your phone. I’ve only been out twice when we’ve needed a phone and both times it was to call an ambulance.

Right that’s the essentials covered. I’ll be doing some more of these guides if people like them.

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