If you have no trouble doing usual commutes on your road bike, the chances are you are a perfect candidate for long-distance cycling. Physical fitness is an advantage, although it is not a necessity. The trick to completing long bike rides is to ensure you have the right essentials.
The two crucial factors to consider are your comfort and energy levels. Don’t worry; I’m here to help you pack the basics you genuinely need. After all, a heavy bag with stuff you won’t even use will only weigh you down.
Hop on in and ill help you travel light with just enough essentials to fit perfectly into your seat-pack, jersey pockets, and bottle cages.
How to Prepare for Long Rides?
You cannot afford to ignore the importance of getting well-prepped for a long ride. First, make sure your bike is maintained, and the stem, handlebar, and saddle are set correctly to ensure your comfort.
A word of caution: don’t change anything on the long ride date. It is better to ride using tried-and-tested nutrition and bike components. Additionally, ensure you have the right gear.
This includes items like:
Again, use “tried-and-tested” cycling clothing and accessories. The last surprise you need is to find out that your bib shorts are too tight, or they have a low level of sweat absorption when you are miles away from your digs.
Related Guide: Touring Bike vs Road Bike
Essentials to Take on Long Road Bike Rides
Now that your bike is in excellent shape and you are well-dressed for a long-distance cycling adventure, what do you pack in your bag?
There’s no point risking it; you don’t want to get stuck or inconvenienced miles away from home.
Here are the most vital essentials you mustn’t leave home without:
Tools and Spares (on-the-Go Repair Kit)
Irrespective of the miles you intend to cover, you cannot be guaranteed that your bike will hold up to all the abuse. To be on the safe side, carry the following tools and spares.
I find it more convenient to carry two good ones.
Confirm the size and make sure the valve type is a perfect fit for your pump.
The best types of patches to carry are the glueless or self-sealing varieties. They are not as long-lasting as their traditional glued counterparts, although they take up less space and can fit in the seat-pack.
If your budgets allow it, you can invest in compressed air cartridges. They are quite convenient, but unlike pumps, they are not reusable. Traditional pumps are, on the other hand, easier to use but less convenient to carry because of their long frames.
It is better to get accustomed to using mini-pumps. They are a little challenging to use, although they are super portable and can fit in your cycling backpack.
The right multi-tool will have a range of devices, including a chain splitter and a Phillips head screwdriver. What is most important, however, is to confirm that your multi-tool has Torx and Allen key sizes ideal for your specific bike.
These are small plastic fasteners that can come in handy when making a whole range of simple fixes.
You can use them to fix a broken saddle, re-attach the brakes, replace lost chainring bolts, fix cycling shoes, and even organize your brakes cables.
Food and Drinks
The need to keep your body hydrated cannot be stressed enough. A few snacks are also crucial, especially if you intend to cycle for more than 2 hours.
A large (750ml) water bottle is perfect for long-distance rides, as long as you can refill it at different stops. In case you don’t intend to use routes that have shops, carry at least two large water bottles.
Flavored water is okay, although there are perks allied with packing plain water. For instance, you can use the water to cool your head or even wash your hands.
Whether you are road biking to lose weight, explore your outdoors, or reduce stress, you must carry some snacks. Cycling is a low-intensity workout, although it can quickly exhaust your body’s glycogen stores because of all the muscles that are engaged at the same time.
To maintain proper blood glucose levels and to reduce the risk of bonking (hypoglycemia), you need just a few snacks that provide a sugar hit of instant energy.
It’s perfectly okay to pack some energy bars, fruits, or cereal bars. However, if you are not a great fan of sugary stuff, consider using biking routes that allow you to stop over and eat ‘real’ food.
Cash or Cards
Your cash or cards are your escape tickets in case something goes wrong. Anything can happen when you are tens of miles away from home.
Your bike could get a hit you can’t fix, or you may even crave for freshly prepared ‘real’ food during your ride. Of course, don’t forget to carry personal identification.
Cyclists differ in their needs and preferences. Let’s have a look at a few noncompulsory essentials to include in your backpack.
Before you set out, apply sunscreen on exposed areas and pay special attention to the delicate skin on your nose and ears. You also want to protect your neck and back from the risk of getting sunburns.
In case you like cooling down by pouring water on your head and perhaps washing your face en route, consider carrying a small sunscreen bottle. You may want to apply additional sun-protection to prevent your skin from getting flaky.
We can debate all day about whether to carry your smartphone on cycling adventures or to leave it at home. What we can agree on is that having a means of communication is crucial, especially if you want to take on new routes.
If you are opposed to the idea of carrying a smartphone, consider getting a cheap pay-as-you-go phone. Smartphones, on the other hand, are useful gadgets because they can serve as both navigation aid and cycle computers.
If you opt not to carry a smartphone, then at least consider bringing a cycle computer. This will help you know the distance you have covered and the time spent en route.
Advanced cycle computers have maps that offer navigation aids. You can, however, find lighter navigation aids with just basic direction instructions written on them.
Carrying a page from your atlas is also an option you may consider, especially if you don’t want to bring any smart gadgets.Whether you choose to carry your smartphone, a basic phone, navigation aid, or a cycle computer, ensure that your gadgets are stored in a waterproof bag.
There you have it, a comprehensive list of what to take on a road bike trip. Sticking to our list will ensure your comfort and, at the same time, ascertain that you travel light.
My final advice is that cyclists should set practical goals. In case the furthest you have ridden is 40 miles, consider increasing your mileage by 10-20 miles. This will make it much simpler for you to know whether anything needs changing in preparation for longer cycles.