Essential Items you need to carry when cycling
Cycling does not just require an understanding of fitness; it also helps to know the ins and outs of your bike in the unfortunate instance of a breakdown or fault. The last thing you want is to be an hour or two away from home and then to realise something is wrong! This is why you need to be prepared for anything that might come your way so you can be ready to fix the issue and be back on your way as swiftly as possible; this is where these items come in handy!
A multi tool is the utmost essential tool for any cyclist, regardless of experience. The best ones will have screwdrivers, hex keys, wrenches, spoke keys, tyre levers and a chain hook. This will cover 99% of eventualities when out cycling. The tool should be compact, lightweight and easy to carry. If you were to carry a pannier or backpack with all of these tools in, it would be very heavy indeed. It’s also very important not to drop or lose this, so being able to attach directly and securely to your bike is crucial.
A pump is one of the most basic tools a cyclist needs, yet they're often overlooked when preparing to go out for the day. A deflated tyre is not something you want to recognise when you're several miles away from home in the rain; which is why every cyclist should take a small bicycle pump that can be stored on your bike in the case of emergency.
You typically don't even need an expensive, shiny pump that has all sorts of bells and whistles – you just need one that works! In the painful event of a puncture (that you're likely to have at least once in your life) and you've repaired your tyre, you'll still need to fill it up with air so you can get yourself back on the move, so a pump is always essential for those dreaded worst case scenarios.
A puncture repair kit needs to be with you every time you leave the house on your bike in case of, obviously, a puncture. However many people will usually either buy a puncture repair kit and keep it at home; to which when you're out and get a puncture it's still at home with the packaging intact while you're left wheeling your bike home in the cold rain wondering when it started getting dark so quickly. Or, they'll buy one at the time of puncture, to which you've already been forced to learn that because it's winter now it starts getting dark at 4 after getting home 3 hours later!
Either way, it's best to buy a puncture repair kit and even more important that you bring it with you when you're out! It's like buying an umbrella and leaving it at home to go for a walk when it's raining!
Hex keys are very important to maintaining the condition of your bike. Loose gears, loose wheels or loose anything; hex keys of various sizes are a must have if you’re looking to keep your bike in top condition.
For example if your chain is falling off, or if you’re struggling to stay in gear, your cycling experience will be generally less enjoyable and you will find yourself not having as much fun. A happy and healthy bike means a happy and healthy rider! You’re more likely to feel whether something is loose while you’re riding so it’s important you are ready to step in and improve your experience.
Yes, I know, this isn't exactly a tool but it's arguably just as important as any other item on this list! If you're going out cycling without a bottle of water then you're setting yourself up to fail. Hydration is imperative to your body's performance especially when participating in an aerobic exercise that works the whole body such as cycling, so it's vital that you take a water bottle along with you.
Similarly to the pump, this doesn't need to be an expensive bottle at all, just a standard one that can fit in a bag or in a bottle cage on your bike so you're always ready to top yourself up with fluids on your journey.
A phone is a very useful tool to bring along with you for many reasons. Firstly, and more obviously, it's a communication device. As technology has advanced we've seen more and more fancy additions to our phones, but it is easy to forget that they can be used as phones! If you ever get injured or if the person you're riding with gets injured, then a phone is there to call 999 or a family member in the event of an emergency.
But the benefit of modern phones also allows for more customisable ways to enjoy cycling. With music streaming sites giving access to millions of songs, fitness tracking apps and navigation apps, smartphones are the perfect device for every situation. In the event you get lost in the dark, your phone likely has a torch and a 'maps' app. If you want to work hard on your performance, plug some earphones in, switch on a playlist, open up your fitness tracking app and away you go. Explore the different ways you can enhance your cycling experience with your smartphone and use your phone as a tool, not as a distraction.
Any form of identification is an important piece of information to carry around with you, particularly in very unfortunate circumstances where you badly injure yourself. If you come off your bike and hit your head on a rock, when emergency services find you and come to your aide, a form of identification will be used to get in contact with any family members, loved ones or friends to inform them of your situation.
It is vitally important you do take a form of identification with you for that reason, for in those types of circumstances your family will be waiting for news if you are not responding to messages or have been gone longer than expected. With ID, emergency services can help pass that news on to your family and let them know where you are.
On a lighter note, if you are a younger cyclist and look under the age of 25, ID is also useful if you were wanting to pop into a local pub during your journey for a quick pint! Either way, always make sure you take ID with you!
To some up, these simple items will make your cycling experience a lot better. You will not be caught out if repairs are needed, but you will also stay safe and have fun.
Enjoy your cycling!
Author - William Hillier