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Tools You Should Carry On Your Bike Ride

Updated: Mar 17

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who ride bikes and those who wish they rode bikes 😁. If you're a runner, you may not glean much from this blog except for future knowledge that will serve you well when you start riding a bike!

"Failing to plan is planning to fail."

Prepare for a bike ride with the right tools

In 20 years of riding, I've experienced the embarrassment of having to call for a pick-up about half a dozen times. I absolutely hate it. Those times weren't because I was too tired or didn't have the energy to finish, it was because of a user error or mechanical I experienced that I wasn't prepared for. 15 years ago, there wasn't Uber and I didn't have a significant other to call, so the stark reality of being absolutely stranded was very real and present. I remember snapping my front derailleur cable one time and riding 20 miles home in my 53x11 by tying the cable around the frame of my bike. (This was pre-electronic shifting days). There was no bail-out option.

My goal for every ride is to be prepared with some basic items that will help get me out of 90% of mechanicals I might experience.

Preventing bike mechanicals starts well before the ride by making sure:

  • You are riding good tires without major nicks or holes

  • You have refilled sealant recently if riding tubeless (I keep a chart on the wall of my garage to write down dates I refilled sealant on each bike)

  • Electronic batteries are charged and ready

  • GPS and light batteries are charged and ready

  • Bike is relatively clean and chain is lubed (squeaky is bad)

Tires are where most of our issues occur and just by taking care of these and staying on top of the maintenance I mentioned above, it will go a long, long way to making sure you get to finish every ride you start.

Now onto what you should carry while riding.

Team bike ride
Tires seem to flat more on rainy and cold days (a theory)

Tools and other must-haves to carry on a bike ride:

  • FRAME PUMPS SAVE RIDES. This is a mantra my own coach has taught me. We are heavily reliant on CO2, which is great because it's convenient. But the reality is that you will ALWAYS be able to get home if you have a frame pump and a fresh tube. You won't be able to get the tire pressure as high of course, but you will be able to make it home. I remember one ride that I double flatted, and while I had two tubes, I didn't have 2 CO2 cartridges and no frame pump. There was no grace extended by my coach. My job was to ride for 4 hours that day and I didn't' do my job because I wasn't prepared. He didn't like that. So now I carry a frame pump with me.

  • 2 CO2 cartridges.

  • 1 CO2 adapter. The cartridge won't work without an adapter, as I've discovered before!

  • Tube (I carry 2 when on really long bike rides deep into the hill country)

  • Basic multi-tool. These crank brothers tools are a little heavy and pricey but I like that they have a chain tool built in. Fortunately, I haven't had to use that yet.

  • Dyna plug if riding tubeless

  • Tail Light

  • Some cash

  • Credit card (or Apple Pay!)

  • ID and health insurance card (hopefully you won't need the health insurance card but I've gone to the ER before after a bike ride and was glad I had mine with me!)

  • Safety gel (I always have one "extra" gel I carry on long rides that I rarely use but I have with me just in case the bonk gets super real).

Optional tools etc. to carry on your ride:

  • Extra e-tap battery if riding SRAM. SRAM is nice in that you can swap batteries or carry extra so it never hurts to have one in your saddlebag in case something dies

  • Extra quick link for chain on the off chance that you break one. I don't train with a quick link usually but will race gravel with an extra one

  • Mini bottle of lube if racing a long gravel event or doing a long training event on dirt. Keep the chain fresh!

  • A spare set of gloves in the winter

  • Sunglass wipes for summer riding. I have boxes of these in my garage and throw a couple in my pocket to clean the sweat and fog off during summer rides.

Must-have tools and items to carry on the bike
Must-have tools and items to carry on the bike

While it is possible to still have issues that can't be remedied mid-ride, I've found over the years that by taking care of your bike, and carrying some basic tools with you, you'll be able to get yourself out of MOST issues that happen out on the road, or avoid them altogether.

Because no one wants to go home early and not turn their TrainingPeaks green!

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