Preparing your gear and bike
For many weeks now I’ve talked about controlling the controllables, getting your preparation right and ticking the boxes, so all you have to do at United Energy Around the Bay is ride! The whole reason you have trained, prepared and kept progressing towards your goal is so you can enjoy the event day.
To help you have the best ride day you need your bike and your body to work seamlessly, as well as have a contingency plan in place just in case something goes wrong. With three weeks to go, now is a good time to assess your current situation.
Here are some things you should consider to help you prepare for the ride
- What will you most likely wear?
- What will you most likely carry?
- What mechanical equipment do you need to prepare?
- What lights will you use and will they flash all day, or will you need a spare one?
- What front light will you use in the morning?
- What pump will you bring and do you know how to use it?
- Do you have the right spare tubes for your bike and wheel rim width?
- What food will you carry? How will you carry it? How will you access it?
- What bottles will you carry? Do you carry small or large ones?
How you prepare will be up to you. Ultimately, it is about finding the balance between packing the kitchen sink and not packing enough.
By doing a variety of training rides over the past few months, you should have experienced situations that did not go to plan and you had to had to sort it out. You learn so much more than any article can teach you just by being in the thick of your own flat tyre.
This coming weekend I recommend spending 1–2 hours on a dress rehearsal ride to help uncover any gaps in your game plan. That’ll give you plenty of time to buy a new tube or two, learn how to use your Co2 inflator or put on new tyres.
The test run
You’ve worked out what you’re going to carry, you know how to pack and use it and your training is in the bank. Now it’s time to make your preparations.
Step 1 – Wash your bike
Take off all your accessories so your bike is bare. Clean your bike and take your time to inspect it as you clean. Check your tyres for nicks, glass or wear and tear. Clean your chain slowly – sometimes you might find a break in a link or a kink. Inspect your frame at load points and check for any cracks.
As you clean your wheels feel your spokes for any loose or broken ones. Do your brake pads need replacing? How is the housing, does it need adjusting? Give the brake pads themselves a scrub with some fine sandpaper and give the rims a good clean with a soft scourer.
Step 2 – Repairs
Make a note of all your replacement and repair items
- Do you have the knowledge, tools and parts to do this yourself?
- Do you need to take it to your local bike shop and discuss a plan of attack to fix and replace?
Get this done as soon as possible, whether by a bike mechanic or buying the items and doing it yourself. If you do need a bike mechanic make sure you book your bike in ASAP – with 10,000 people riding United Energy Around the Bay there are lots of people getting work done.
I’m replacing my rear tyre which has a nick in it that will only get worse. If I was to get a puncture on the day of the event, I would only have myself to blame.
Step 3 – Sort out your gear
Gather all your gear that you will use, wear and need for the ride. Set up front light on the bike as well as any trip computer/GPS device.
Gather all your bike repair equipment and assess how you will carry this. I use a larger saddle bag for events such as this, just so I can carry a few extras. Options include a cylinder in your bidon cage or a saddle bag, plus there’s always space in your jersey pockets too.
Gather up all your nutrition, money, phone and extras such as sunscreen, lip balm, battery pack to recharge on the ferry and plan how this will be carried.
On a day like this I will use the less-fashionable but convenient option of a top tube bag which gives me easy access to food as I ride – leaving room in my pockets for everything else.
Get your wardrobe sorted too. Lay it out and see it, how does it work with what you are taking? Some jerseys have smaller pockets which make carrying extra stuff much harder.
If it is a cold or wet day what will you bring with you and how will you carry it if you no longer need to wear it? Do you need to review everything and lose a few items? Or perhaps you want to consider using the valet service?
If you no longer need your jacket or arm warmers on the ride you can wrap them loosely with a knot around your waist and then pull your jersey over the top to keep it secure. Or even pop it under your jersey at the back stuffing it so it sits above the bulk of your pockets!
A final option is to find a safe space to wrap it on your bike frame where it won’t interfere with your wheels should it come loose – the top tube is good for this. I have also seen riders devise super hero capes as a last resort.
Step 4 – Set it all up
Set it all up. Take the time to put it all on the bike just like you will the day before the event. Make adjustments. Plan for the extra things you’ll need to borrow or buy.
Learn how to use your gear, have a good look at items such as your multi-tool and Co2 inflator. Check out the size of your stem posts on your tubes, will they suit the rims of your wheel? Perhaps you need to order some 80mm stemmed tubes for deeper rimmed wheels.
The final step today is for you to see how it will work for you on the day. No surprises, a rehearsal for a few weeks time.
Now you’re ready!
Get it right now, so you can enjoy your ride on the day. Be the person that has a spare tube to hand out, not the person who forgot theirs.
Plan your nutrition and have energy all day long. Long distance challenge rides are far more fun when you are happy and well fed and riding at a reasonable pace.
Just be organised and “do today what others won’t so you can do tomorrow what others can’t”. Simple.