Don’t Leave Your House Without It: Answering the Question “What Should I Bring When I Ride?”

The Square Lake Film Festival is coming up on Saturday the 15th! Not only is this exciting because it’s a really big biking event, the group ride out on Saturday morning is probably the first long ride for many people. Before you leave your house on Saturday morning, or any morning for that matter, and ride off into the sunrise or sunset, here are some things that you should probably always have on you whether you’re riding 2 miles or 200 miles.

This list is based on what I personally carry in my bag or have in the past wished I had when the time came to fix a flat on the side of the road.

1. A Wrench

2. Hex Wrench Multi-Tool

3. Tire Levers (2)

4. An extra Tube

5. A Shim (Square or circle of flat rubber. This comes in handy for blow-outs or large holes in the tire.)

6. Some way to fill that extra tube (Either CO2 Cartridge and attachment or a frame pump. Make sure you know how to use them before you need them!!)

7. Your Lights- Front and Back (Don’t get caught in the dark)

8. Water

9. ID

10. Phone

11. Bus Fare

A while ago, after getting a long screw in my back tire, still 5-6miles out from downtown on the North side of Minneapolis, I had to change my tire by the side of the road in 90 degree weather. Luckily, I had just added a new tube and CO2 Cartridge to my little bag of tools and had everything I needed to change the tube, shim the huge hole in the tire, and go on my way. I did, however, have to call my partner and get instructions on how to fill my tire with the high pressure cartridge because, while I had seen it, I’d never done it before. I’ve switched to carrying a tiny tiny inefficient pump in my bag because eventually CO2 gets expensive. You get the gist. Stay calm, it only gets easier with experience.

When you are going on a short ride or commuting, I would recommend bringing a backpack with you. If you are like me, you also like to have your books and computer, etc. etc. However, if you are going on a long ride (say, over 15 miles) I would highly recommend both bike shorts and a jersey with back pockets or a very light bag. Don’t make riding any harder for yourself. Make sure you have a water-bottle and cage on your bicycle so you can still carry water and fill up those pockets with only the necessary. Tools for changing a flat and your pump or CO2, your ID, some cash, a credit card in case you need to go to a shop and buy a replacement for something major, and a snack that is easy to eat while you are riding (trust me, getting a low blood-sugar attack at mile 20 only means tears and is perhaps the easiest thing to avoid, unlike that random flat or wipe-out on a bad road.) And above all, bring your phone. The last thing you want is to be completely stranded in the middle of nowhere and no-one knows where you are. Catching a bus to the nearest shop or getting a ride from a well-meaning stranger is not always possible and not always, in the case of the stranger, a good idea.

I never leave the house without my tools and a tube. What do you bring with you when you ride?

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