Accidents happen all the time. They are just a part of life and therefore sadly something that you should always prepare for before you set off on a ride. As a result, there are a few things that are essential for you to bring along with you to avoid leaving yourself in a very sticky situation!
Taking spare parts with you has to be at the top of the list - it may not seem the most attractive thought as adding weight to your bike will slow you down, but you’ll be very grateful if you ever find yourself in need!
One of the most common problems that cyclists encounter is a popped inner-tube. They need to be made out of a pliable material so that they can move to fill with air in order to keep your bike moving; therefore, It is one of the thinnest parts that feature on a bicycle and one of the parts that suffers the most pressure.
Bringing a spare inner tube with you, or indeed a puncture kit and mini air pump will save you from walking home in the event of one of your inner tubes popping. It is even advisable to bring 2 inner tubes with you on longer rides to keep you covered for all possibilities.
With inner tubing, you should also consider bringing Tyre Levers with you to take your tyre off to access the tubing is also very handy!
But that is not to say that other parts of your bicycle aren’t prone to problems too. A bicycle multi-tool is a cyclist’s best friend! It has a few different sized hex-key attachments, along with a few screwdriver heads and multi-tools will feature a chain repair too.
Something else to definitely consider is bringing small zip-ties and a small amount of electrical tape. These are 2 very small objects that can be fit into many different places, but having the ability to attach two things together if needs be is incredibly important. There is just no knowing what could come loose on your bike, or when you might need to attach things together, so bringing these two things with you could save you from walking home, or worse, calling a taxi!
Caring for your bicycle is one thing, but caring for yourself is also something that you need to do to maximize your enjoyment of a ride. Good times can suddenly turn to awful times if you forget to bring enough, or any food or water! You must remember that you are as much a machine as your bicycle is!
If you have ever experienced what is referred to as ‘bonking’ then you will agree that it is definitely not something that you want to do more than once! This term refers to being entirely out of energy, going light headed, extremely tired and finding it almost impossible to continue cycling. Some people have even been known to be unable to walk any more, let alone cycle! It truly is something to be frightened of.
The best way to prevent something like this from happening is by ensuring you pack some sort of snack with you - common favourites include: dates, figs and bananas, as they are extremely high in sugar and can provide a large natural source of energy in times of need. Alternatively, gummy sweets, chocolate or nuts can be massively helpful. These are all small items that can conveniently fit into the pockets on the back of your cycling jersey.
The important thing to remember is to bring something!
Most bicycles will have holes drilled into the down tube or seat tube, or even under the bottom bracket where you can attach water bottle holders; on vintage bikes this is less common and you will find water bottle cages that can fit over the handlebars providing easy access.
Keeping hydrated is a vital part of exercising, especially when you don’t know where the next source of drinking water will come from! So be sure to bring at least one bottle of water with you whenever you go out for a ride.
It may not seem like something that would be very important, but you would be surprised at how many times you need to buy something when you’re out on the road.
If something on your bike breaks and you don’t have any other spare parts with you, then money will be essential to get you up and running again.
Or maybe you have bonked and you’re all out of food, how will you pay for a taxi home or get some emergency food? There is just no knowing what may be in store for you when you go on your next ride and therefore it is paramount to be prepared.
On a less daunting note though, having money with you can also open up a world of possibilities for taking a break. One of the joys of cycling is going somewhere you’ve never been before, being able to share that experience with someone else only enhances it. So you should definitely consider bringing a bit of money with you so you can stop at a cafe or beer garden to enjoy a drink during your ride or at the end of it.
If you’re serious about cycling, then you have already invested in a decent pair of cycling shoes that fit beautifully into a set of either road or mountain bike pedals. The next part is the tricky part. Getting used to the action of clipping and unclipping from the pedals is definitely something that you should practise before going straight out onto the road.
Having to stop suddenly whilst in public and trying to put your foot down before suddenly realising that you are still fixed to your bike is a sensation that no cyclist will forget. It sends shivers down the spine of any rider remembering the first time they couldn’t unclip. If you are unlucky then you will topple over helplessly with your bike as you come to a stop, if you’re lucky then you may just get a foot out in time, harming only your dignity!
Learning how much force is required to get your foot out is a very important skill that you should definitely master before taking to the streets.
Nothing will enrage your local bicycle shop mechanic more than having under inflated tyres. If you go to them for advice then 9 times out of 10 it will be the first thing that they instinctively check before looking for any problems with the bike.
Having too low a tyre pressure will make it feel incredibly difficult to build up any sort of speed and wasting a huge amount of energy in the process - not only that but it will also make it extremely hard to handle, especially if it is wet underfoot.
However, running the pressure of your tyres too high and you will be in for a very uncomfortable ride as the tyres are the place where most of the vibrations from the road surface are absorbed. High pressure will also lose you traction to the road when cornering, leaving you very unstable!
Most tyres will have a guide as to how much pressure they should have, so it is important to frequently check what pressure you’re at, as tyres also lose air at different rates over time. It is also advisable to lower your tyre pressure only slightly when cycling in wet conditions for a safer ride.