Whenever I go long on a ride I am in quest of uncovering what is it that I have done, not done, forgotten or not yet discovered that will disrupt my ride and have to abandon. Will it be me, the bike or something I forgot?
I give it a term, the WEAK LINK! Like a chain, all it takes is one to break and bust the ride.
It seems the older and more experienced I have become, the more I bring. Where I live also causes me to pack more. One day the temps on the road went from 29-105F. I was begging for rain and all I got was a hot headwind and hatches of stoneflies along the long stretch of the Rio Grand River!
I make sure the bike is in excellent shape. I don’t go on a 1200K without a new drive chain, cables/housing and tires. All my subsequent rides over 100 miles are designed to test myself, my bike and the equipment I use. I keep refining, adjusting everything!
As you see, I am equipped to ride for days almost anywhere, especially in the Rockies where I live. On the handlebar is a Detour bag that is my “glove box” for ready access. The top tube Revelate bag is also ready access primarily electronic related. The Banjo bag under the top tube is ready access for quick to get clothes. On the back is the yellow Camelback roll up bag of tubes and tools. The large Carradice bag with side pockets carries the meat of my needs. I will detail each. In total it weighs about 15lbs unless I carry extra water. The frame is a 52 so I am limited with bag selection. The intent of this arrangement is to provide me easy access to most items while I am riding or quick to get to if I must get off the bike. The small handlebar bag is ideal for the things I need without losing any bike handling. I once rode with a large handlebar bag and it prevented me from sitting up and riding no-handed.
My Eddy Merckx is equipped with a very dependable Campagnolo 11 compact gruppo. The wheels are extra beefy to handle the stresses. They are handmade with conventional spokes. I use Continental Hardshell tires. I beefed up the wheel selection because they are usually the first to go wrong if you run over or into something. I believe it is like a home and the wheels are the foundation. Get them straight and sturdy all else can roll along. I have a dynamo light, E3 on the front axle. Always on to be seen. It provides sufficient light and at an angle that I can see the debris and road conditions from a great angle. This is bike fits me like a glove and the ride is very forgiving. I also have other eyes look over it for me as in an excellent mechanic who understands my riding habits. I believe I have minimized a “weak link” exposure as to the bike unless……
A race tested mechanic always under pressure! I believe they are the best to know and how work on your machine treating it like an instrument. It is best that your mechanic understands what you are doing with your bike.
To start, I keep a journal book for notes from rides. Helping me with a list of what to take and how not to repeat a mistake. With more experience, my notes have expanded. They really help to review early in the season when the riding is relatively new and the weather can be extreme. Regardless the time of the year, on super long rides, I bring about the same. An old mountain biker saying, “All day hard. Bring it all!”
Now for the equipment breakdown for it comes down to being me as the weakest link of all! It doesn’t take much to slow one down or come to a complete stop. I will start from the contents in the front handlebar bag and work my way to the back.
I wish this bag was still being made. It is a great size and I can fit my hands on the bars behind it whereas some prohibit this due to the attachment. The bag has several pockets and a raincover, if needed. Here are the contents, all in small amounts: The map, brevet card, cuesheet, pen, chapstick, eyeglass interchangeable lenses, lens cleaner, “reader” glasses, Bag Balm, Aleve, spork, sunscreen, hand/feet warmers, handi wipes, xtra small plastic bags, rubber bands, mini Leatherman, mini multi bike tool, toe straps, smartphone, toothbrush, tums, Gin Gins, wallet. Everything I have used repeatedly. Finally, I have a picture of my Babydoll who keeps me grounded and has supported me all along every ride of the way!
Before I get started with the contents of this bag I must include a vital item, my Garmin Edge. I am constantly glued to this tool. It tells me where I am going and when I will get to my destination by mileage. I use http://www.ridewithgps.com. for mapping. I have a rolling screen feeding me tons of information such as temperature, battery life, pulse, rpm, mileage, average mileage, my pace, climbing grade, elevation, topography, weather data and of course turn by turn navigation.
The above top tube bag is full of electronics and quick foods. Inside there is a battery pack that will recharge my Garmin, phone, tail lights, ipod and secondary headlight. This gives me two days without a wall charge. Also, are the necessary charging cables and plug and ipod with earbuds when not in use. Again, I like the rolling accessability.
I started using this frame bag this year. I have in it my reflective ankle bands, reflective vest, food stash. I can pull the vest on and off and quickly tuck it in here. I may use other items like arm and knee warmers. I fully utilize my jersey pockets and things may interchange where it is placed. Rolling along is key. Frequent stops are time killers when time matters.
This tool bag is strapped to my saddle bag frame. It contains 2 spare tubes, Park spoke wrench, multi tool, Park tire tools, tire boots, and patch kit. Sometimes I use a mini pump on short rides and sturdier pump such as one from Lezyne. I like the tool bag roll method because I have easy access to get to what I need once it is unrolled, especially in the middle of the night. It is also easier to see because of the color instead of using a black bag at night.
The Carradice bag is amazing! I like the way it is mounted on the saddle rails and away from touching the back of my legs. I hate that! The rack is worth it’s weight. This model is the Nelson Longflap. There is an additional flap that can over extend the top if you are carrying more. I have been through some bad storms and everything stays dry without having to put them in plastic bags. I can access to the side pockets while riding if I need too!
In this bag I will have: a compressed lightweight hooded down jacket, Enduro HiViz commuter rain jacket, Shower Pass rain pants, Sealskinz rain/thermal booties, toe covers, thermal arm & knee warmers, thermal gloves, mini chamois towel (for cleaning or insulative barrier under my jersey), 2 platypus 1 liter bottles, chain oil, varied zip ties, electrical tape, helmet light, backup headlight, tail lights, Spot Finder, thermal beany, cotton cycling cap, toe straps, bike pump, gallon size plastic bags, Goretex helmet rain cover, neck gator, emergency blanket or bivy bag and a 1st aid bag. All the clothing items are rolled up and wrapped with rubber bands. Nice and neat, easy to find.
As far as the foul weather gear, I want to note that I use bright colors, and highly reflective material. Usually riding in harsh conditions, the light is darkened and everyone’s visibility is hampered. The more I can increase the visibility with colors, Hi Vis material and serious taillights the safer all will be. It is quite a strange experience to have a motorist stop or slow down thanking me to be so visible!
Find what works for you. I thought that my contribution may save you a lot of time and money. It is a constant experiment with every ride! What’s your weak link?