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What to Carry on a Big Ride

Whatever the weather or length of ride, there are things which you simply cannot leave the house without. Cycling jerseys have three very helpful pockets across the lower back which can be utilised to ensure your prepared for most eventualities on a bike. Over my many years of riding I’ve gradually honed what I take with me on every ride, often learning the hard way in the process. I hope the list below helps.


Pocket sized pump (Summer) and full frame pump (Winter)

Whether you’re just starting out as a cyclist or have been riding a long time whether to carry a pump or CO2 cartridges is a debatable argument. Having used C02, whilst it helps inflate tires very quickly in my experience it has been more problematic. In cold conditions the cartridge can get so cold as its inflating your tire your fingers can become frozen to the shell. This has happened twice to me. CO2 cartridges also have a negative impact on the environment, not easily recycled and are often found discarded on the side of the road.

You know where you are with a trusty pump, you’re able to regularly check the pressure of your tire whilst inflating, many pocket-sized pumps now come with digital displays showing how much pressure is in the tire, with many now able to reach 100psi or greater. I choose to ride with a full frame mounted pump in winter to ensure that the time off the bike repairing a puncture is reduced – with the larger pump inflating the tire very quickly.


Multi-tool (must include a chain tool)

Many companies now produce small, pocket sized multitools which are a perfect fit for a jersey pocket or saddle bag. When choosing which tool to purchase, ensure that it has a good range of allen keys, screwdriver heads and torx heads. This will mean any small adjustments to the bike can be made. Some tools have tire levers which form the body of the tool and may even have a valve core tool (for tightening inner tube valve core – very useful).

However, the one thing I would insist on, is that it includes a chain breaking tool, a valuable piece of kit which will help you repair a broken chain and get you back on the road – otherwise, a broken chain is a ride ending mechanical. From time to time it’s useful to give the tool a spray with WD40 as the salt from winter roads can get into the saddle bag and act as a corrosive.


Innertubes, patches and tire boot

Always ensure you carry at least one inner tube, check that the valve core on the tube is tight. It’s also worth checking the valve, in particular where it attaches to the rubber tubing. If the tube has been inside your saddle bag for a while, the metal part of the valve can become corroded and sometimes the rubber can perish near the valve.

A set of patches is essential to carry, as when you have used the inner tube, you can still get back on the road by repairing any punctures with patches. Gone are the days where you need to use rubber patches and sealant or glue. There are many different types of sticky rubberised patches which act like a plaster for an innertube and are quick and easy to use.

Tire boots are a larger piece of sticky backed cardboard or plastic roughly 5cm long and 3cm wide which can be used to sit inside your tire if you rip it from having a blowout, or the tire is damaged in such a way that the innertube cannot stay with the casing. This is placed inside the tire and effectively becomes the tire wall – allowing you to get home.


Quicklink – Chain piece

Multitool chain tools are fine for removing links from broken chains but will struggle to re-join a chain together. This is where a quick release chain link provides an easy solution. These are single links of chain which can be disconnected and reconnected easily allowing you to join a broken chain back together and get you moving.


Mobile phone

It may sound like common sense but a phone can often be the last thing you remember when rushing to get out the door on a Sunday morning. Phones are essential for calling for help if you get lost or stuck and, more importantly, in the case of an accident, they one of the first places emergency workers will look. Make sure it’s fully charged before you leave.

It’s also important to have an I.C.E (in case of emergencies) number stored in the contacts too.


Card and Cash

Vital for that all-important café stop, but also useful for picking up things from bike shops on route, or as a last resort option for getting you home.



Make sure you have enough food to fuel your ride. Even if you’re just out for a short session, it’s advisable to have an emergency gel – like an SiS GO Isotonic Energy gel – in your pocket just in case you’ve misjudged the route, have a mechanical problem that takes a long time to fix or haven’t taken in enough fuel before the ride.


Gilet / waterproof

Never underestimate the effect of wind chill on a descent or having to stop at the side of the road to fix a mechanical. Most gilets and jackets now fold down easily small enough to fit in a jersey pocket and are a good idea to carry all year round.

Written By

Matt Hopkins