Every year we help to support Sportives right across the country. These events vary hugely in size and character but are always a delight to attend. What impresses us most is the sheer breadth and diversity of individuals participsting in such events. It's also fare to say that we've witnessed our fair share of hopelessly unprepared participants. So here's a quick blog on the 8 items you should never, ever be without.
1: The Seatpack
The truth is that at some point in your Sportive career you're going to suffer the dreaded and unexpected puncture. Most of the time people like our team of mechanics will be on hand to sort you out but if not it's essential you have a spare inner tube and a good pair of strong plastic levers. Quite how you carry those items is often a little less obvious. We’re big fans of Continental’s Seatpack offering a slick and elegant means of carrying both your tube, levers, money and even your phone neatly tucked into your saddle’s recess.
I grew up in a fairly notorious neighbourhood within a fairly notorious northern city which, amongst other things, meant I had little chance of ever finding a working phone box. Despite this my mum always insisted on sending me everywhere with a ten pence piece and our home phone number indelibly engraved on the back of my hand. While the world of mobile phone’s has made such things surplus to requirement I still argue that carrying a small amount of cash safely folded into the Seatpak is a wise move.
3: A good high pressure mini pump
Come the inevitable puncture your inner tube replacement will need inflating. Forget your granddads pump which left you endlessly feeling as though air was coming back at you faster than you were getting it in (it was!!). Invest in a good pump with a life time warranty and a dual valve. For those reasons we’re big, big fans of Topeak's Pocket Rocket DX II which not only offers all of the above but look damn hot while doing so.
Note that pumps come in a huge variety of styles and functions; if you're riding a road bike or hybrid it's essential that your pump has a 'High Pressure (HP)' capacity.
4: A GOOD multi tool
What defines a GOOD multi tool is not the beauty of its aesthetics, although that does help, but the functionality it offers. Your multi tool needs to be strong, durable, have tool sizes appropriate to the variety of fittings on your bike and be kept in good working order. Attend to these needs and it’ll become an invaluable friend. We’re very big friends with the Toolmanator 16 Multi Tool.
5: An anti bonking agent (You can skip this one if you only ever ride a short route of less than an hour and a half)
No I don’t mean a headache I mean a good source of immediate energy feed. If you’re spending more than 90 minutes in your saddle then your body will use up its natural glycogen stores leaving you hitting the dreaded bonk. You feel like you just can’t carry on, your body feels fatigued and your head feels dizzy, your body needs nutrients and needs them fast, nature needs a good friend with a very quick method of delivery. If your riding at low to medium intensity stock up on a few bars if you’re riding at a higher intensity then your body will find it easier to digest gels. Either way keep these handy as you’ll almost certainly want to consume them without stopping (they’re what jersey pockets are made for).
6: Fully charged phone with a GPS app
Your phone not only provides an obvious communication life line to the outside world but also has the ability to track your ride and your performance. Whether its Endomondo, Strava or any of the other cycling related app they all enable you to accurately track your ride. That means you get a great source of encouragement and a whole heap of useful data.
7: Pocket Rocket Jacket or Race Cape
Some days it’s warm, some days its cold, some days its dry, some days its wet, some days its wet, dry, cold and warm; all in all the only certain thing about autumnal conditions is that nothing is certain. This is exactly the time when a Race Cape or Pocket Rocket Jacket comes into a league of its own. A waterproof jacket you can drop into your jersey pocket or small saddle bag. It'll breathe sufficiently to keep you drier on the inside then on the outside, while eing an excallent rain repellant. Both the Altura Pocket Rocket and Race Cape are have cycling specific features such as elastic thumb straps and a great cut. A top purchase if ever there was one.
Keeping hydrated ought to be your top priority. Most bikes now have the option for you to fit two water bottle cages and we highly suggest youuse them both. Check out our blog on the importance of hydration and make sure you're riding with two good reliable bottles. Make sure they are BPA free so they don't leave you with a horrible plastic taste and make sure they're well insulated to keep cold water cold. We love the Camelbak Podium Chill.
Keep riding, keep smiling!!