Pre-ride preparation is a very personal thing and depends on many different factors. There’s no point in taking winter clothing at the height of summer for instance. And one bidon of drink and half an apple might not get you through a 5-hour battle through the French Alps. However, there are some simple guidelines that apply to most of us for most rides.
We had a chat with our grizzled Double Olympic Gold Medallist – Graeme Brown OAM – who shared some of his top tips.
1. Food: Always take one piece of food per hour of riding. This could be a banana, an energy bar or a jam sandwich. Anything high in sugar to avoid getting the dreaded knock, which is enough to floor even the most hardcore cyclists.
2. Drink: Always begin the ride with two full bottles of water and top up where necessary. Aim to consume one bidon every hour or so and more during hot riding conditions. The body can sweat an incredible amount of fluid very quickly in an effort to cool down, and when dehydration and heat-stroke set in it’s game over.
3. Tools: Always take a reliable multi-tool to keep you rolling in the event of most mechanicals. This should have an assortment of Allen keys, screwdrivers, a link-extractor for broken chains, some small spanners and potentially even tyre levers. The aim is to equip yourself with everything required to fix any foreseeable mechanical. You can leave the headset press at home for now, but at least go prepared. Don’t forget your pump or compressed air canisters.
4. Spares: Tubes and maybe even a tyre is an absolute must. Don’t take just one tube because if you puncture in the first 30 minutes you’ll spend the next three hours praying to the cycling gods that you don’t puncture again. Two to three tubes minimum is sensible. If you’re old school take a puncture repair kit.
5. Clothing: Always make sure you have clothing suitable for the time of the year. Ask yourself how good or bad things can get and equip yourself accordingly. There will always be those unforeseeable epics where you end up cycling through sleet or rain for three hours without anything to keep you warm or dry. But try to avoid racking up the fireside anecdotes for the sake of it.
6. Safety equipment: A helmet, plus front and rear lights are useful for riding when it is dark or when you are bombing through avalanche tunnels in the Alps. Some lights even come equipped with cameras that can come in handy.
7. Ancillaries: Cash or credit cards are sensible additions. As is your mobile phone if you have one. In this hyper connected world you will be grateful for the phone if you forget any of the above and need to call in reinforcements (AKA the Broom Wagon)!
No doubt there are more things we can add to the list (such as a reliable and accurate power meter… !), but for now, if you’re heading out onto the roads make sure you have everything you require and stay safe. See you on the roads!
Read more: Four ways to improve your pedal stroke