Getting into Gear for Will Bike 4 Food: Cycling Essentials

By Sean Condon of Speed & Sprocket

The Food Bank of Western Mass

Essential items to put in your seat bag before heading out for a ride

This month marked the beginning of another exciting Tour de France. While the peloton has team cars following behind them with food, tools, tubes, and team staff to help when they get in trouble, we usually aren’t so lucky. In my last column I discussed what you should wear while riding. Today I’m going to talk a bit about what you should be carrying with you when you head out on the road to train for this year’s Will Bike 4 Food.

In my seat bag (or in your jersey pockets):

  • Spare tube: You do not want to be stuck without a spare if you get a flat tire. Be sure that it is the right size for your bike. The only thing worse than not having a spare is having a spare that won’t help you.
  • Tire lever: to get the tire off the wheel in case of a flat.
  • Flat repair kit: a tiny, but valuable insurance policy in case you have more than one flat.
  • Multi tool: similar to a Swiss Army knife, these tools have a combination of Allen keys, screwdrivers, and other tools that are used on various parts of your bike.
  • $10: it’s good to have some money in case you need to pick up an emergency snack or drink.

In my jersey pockets:

  • Mini pump: Make sure you know how to use it and it’s set up for your valve type (many come with mounts that you can use to mount it under your water bottle cage). Some folks prefer CO2 inflators. However, I feel a pump is more reliable and reusable and you don’t have to worry about cartridges.
  • Cell phone: I often put my phone (and car keys if I drove to the ride) in a zip lock bag to keep it dry from rain and sweat.
  • Snacks: Depending on the distance of my ride, I’ll pack anywhere between one to three snacks. Make sure to bring something that your stomach can handle.

On my wrist:

  • Road ID bracelet: If you don’t want to wear one, carry some sort of ID with you and emergency contact info in your jersey pocket or seat bag.

On my bike:

  • Two water bottle cages: Periodically drinking while riding will keep you much better hydrated than if you try to drink a whole bunch at once. Depending on the temperatures I’ll carry one or two bottles.

Even if you don’t know how to use everything that you pack, there’s a chance someone you are riding with, or someone who passes you, will know and be able to help. Don’t be caught unprepared. Always make sure you have everything you may need before hitting the road.