Think this belongs here rather than maintenance. Some of the ideas might be obvious to some, but I wouldn't have thought of some of them. We might have less rubbish than the US and thankfully there's less of it the more remote you are, it seems to me. We had a lot of fun with found items in populated areas of Canada though. Via RBR, based on advice from Lon Haldeman.
But Lon never worries about equipment breakdown. Part of the reason is that he uses simple and reliable equipment. He often rides a single-speed Rivendell so there isn’t much to go wrong.
But Lon is also a master of improvisation. Once at his annual PAC Tour spring training camps in Arizona (where I’ll be riding next week), Lon claimed that he could fix any bike problem with materials found along the roadside within 400 yards in either direction. The next day he walked half a mile of Arizona highway with a big black plastic bag and collected repair materials. What did Lon find by the side of that Arizona highway? Here’s a list -- and how to use such items for emergency repairs.
Motor oil bottles. Need some chain lube? There’s always a little oil left in the bottom of discarded containers. Some brands are packaged in white or yellow plastic bottles to make spotting them easier. If you’re caught in a hard rain that washes away your chain lube, this trick can save you miles of riding with a squeaky, inefficient chain. It'll also stop a chirping shoe cleat.
Wrenches, knives and screwdrivers. Perfectly good tools bounce out of pickups all the time, so it’s not unusual to find 1 or 2 in a short distance. They may not be exactly what you need but it’s always worth a walk. I once found a whole socket set, sprayed down the road over several hundred feet.
String. If you’ve blown a hole in a tube so big that a patch won’t cover it, you can tie off the damaged section with string and put it back in the tire. But no matter how tightly you tie the string, tourniquet fashion, some air will leak. You may have to stop and use your pump or air canister a time or 2 to keep the tire firm enough to get you home.
Wire. Use it to secure a rattling fender or anything else that has worked loose. Wire would have been ideal to repair my blown cassette hub, but I couldn’t find any heavy enough.
Grass and weeds. If you’ve flatted and have no spare tubes or patch kit (or your pump is broken), stuff the tire tightly with grass and other roadside vegetation. The biomass will provide enough thickness in the tire to save your rim as you ride slowly home. Crumpled paper can work, too.
Sticks. If you can find one that's the right diameter (or have a knife for whittling), a stick can be used to rejoin a broken handlebar. But be extremely careful while riding because the stick could break. For a broken rear gear cable, a twig can be used to jam the rear derailleur into a position under a middle cog, saving you a slog home in the smallest and hardest-to-pedal cog. [Still can't picture this, but having had a brifter fall apart, I'm interested.]
Garbage bags. Poke holes for your head and arms and you've got an emergency rain poncho.
Piece of glass. Cyclists normally hate broken glass. But a suitably sized piece with sharp edges makes a useful knife.
Plastic wrap or foil. These materials can be used as a boot to line the inside of a tire that's suffered a large gash. Without something tough to cover the hole, the new tube will push through and blow out.