It can be intimidating to leave the house on two wheels. It feels vulnerable and maybe even a little risky. As you ride away from all of your equipment and you soon find yourself 20, 30, or 40 miles away from home, little mistakes can have seemingly big consequences and a lack of preparedness can leave you at best uncomfortable and a little worse, stranded.
Here’s a simple list of the things I never leave home without.
Phone: This might seem simple, but I never leave my house without my phone. Not so that I can take photos, but so that I have a lifeline. I don’t have to call for help often, but when I do it can be a make it or break it. I’ve had to call when I was freezing cold in the winter, stuck in torrential downpours and lightening, mechanicals, or lost with the sun setting fast. Always make sure someone knows where you are going and that they will have their phone in case of emergency. Also, make sure your phone is actually charged when you leave the house.
Identification: Always have some form of identification on you. Whether it’s a Road ID or just a note with your name and emergency contact in your back pocket, you never know when it will come in handy. It’s not something any of us want to think about, but we have to be prepared anyways.
Money: It’s valuable to bring a couple bucks or a card in your back pocket while you ride. The little phone sleeves can be especially useful for this. You will rarely need your emergency fund, but when you to, the water you buy will feel like it’s worth a million dollars.
Water/Food: No matter how short my ride is, I’ll always bring a little water and food. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared and if your route lasts longer than expected you’ll be happy that you have it.
Orange Seal: I never leave the house without Orange Seal in my tires. I know it seems obvious, but it truly is my safety net. I feel so much safer when I know that my Orange Seal is topped off because I feel confident that I won’t be stuck with a flat that I cannot fix.
Mini Pump: Once the Orange Seal does its thing, sometimes you’ll need to add a little extra air. I always ride with a mini pump. I ditched CO2s a long time ago. A mistake, an old cartridge, or multiple punctures can be the end of your day with a CO2. A mini pump never runs out. I do all of my training rides with a pump, and I leave the CO2s for fast race day fixes.
Tube/Tire Levers: Even though I rarely need them, I leave a tube and tire levers strapped to the back of my saddle in a saddle bag for the whole season. Better safe than sorry.
Multi-Tool: A multi-tool can fix most on-the-go issues, but without it, you can feel like a sitting duck. A brake lever out of place, a slipped saddle, or a loose cleat can all be extremely frustrating mechanicals that can be fixed very easily with a multi-tool.
While those are all of the things I take on my ‘short’ everyday type of rides, here are some extras that I take for long adventures in the saddle:
Extra Battery: Since I use Sram AXS E-Tap, I will sometimes even throw an extra battery in my pack for extra-long days in the saddle just in case I run out of juice.
Osprey Pack: I use the Osprey 1.5 Dyna Pack for longer days in the saddle. It allows me to carry extra water in a non-restrictive way and it gives me extra space for goodies.
Quick Link: If I plan to go somewhere without cell service, I will bring a quick link in case I break my chain and can’t call for a ride. No one wants to lower the saddle and strider bike all the way home.
Light Jacket: If I’m going into higher elevations or into the backcountry I will always pack a light jacket or vest in case the temperatures drop quickly or it’s cold on the long descent home.
All of these goodies easily pack into my back pocket, a saddle bag, and or a light Osprey pack. Most of the equipment will stay put and only has to be replaced if you find yourself in need once in a blue moon. Get in the habit of being prepared when you set out on two wheels.