While some people prefer to travel light, others carry crammed pocket under their seats. Here are 10 essentials which I try to never forget when I leave my home.
1. Air Pump
The air pump in cycling plays the same role as a condom in interpersonal relationships. Under certain circumstances, we can’t do without them, but hey – nobody likes them! Air pump adds weight, it’s hard to cramp into the rear pockets of your jersey and, in a case of attaching to the frame, it utterly devastates your bike aesthetics. You can ride thousands of kilometres without any puncture. But remember – once you leave your home without the air pump, chances of a defect will rise massively. And by all saints, never fail to take it when roaming somewhere with your girlfriend. You can bet she will pierce her tube at the most distant point from your home.
2. Flat repair kit + tyre levers
For the same reason, you will need a spare tube or a flat repair kit and tyre levers to release the tyre from the rim when changing the faulty tube for a good one.
3. Extra cloth
Maybe you’re just dressed right for now, but the weather is changing faster than the Italian government. Technical T-shirt or light jacket rolled in the rear pocket of your jersey, might cause you’ll resemble a cycling camel but believe that a dry technical under layer or a light windproof jacket would help you stay out of getting cold while descending back to the valley after a long climb.
4. Plastic bag
We owe plastics that the trash in our landfills will degrade for another million years. But you’ll be surprised how great help would be a stupid thing as a piece of a plastic on the bike trip! Mobile phone, cash or credit card can be carried freely in the rear pocket of your jersey, but what will you do in case of an unexpected storm? The plastic bag will keep your valuables dry and in addition, ensure that you will not lose you bank notes or keys unnoticed while fishing some items out of your pockets during pedalling.
Of course – water, what else? But can you imagine, how often people forget to refill their bottle when they have the opportunity? While some simply neglect to do so, the others recklessly assume that half bottle will do the job. What will mostly likely follow when they leave the last water refilling opportunity wasted, is a never-ending climbing on the fireplace like hot tarmac without a trace of a cooling shadow, water fountain a mountain creek. Much later the same day, this will end up with a collapse, hallucinations, and finally, with a rescue by emptying the whole Coca-Cola fridge at the gas station.
6. Phone charger
Sometimes it seems that without a mobile phone, our bikes almost refuse to move. There’re even some cyclists who prefer to return tens of kilometres after finding their Strava failed to record a part of their accomplished route and start from this point again. However, cell phones are also useful for those who have not yet become Strava-addicted. With the mobile you can eventually summon assistance in the event of an accident, find your way home if you get lost or make selfie at the destination just to collect some likes on Facebook. But what is the cell phone good for when the battery runs out? Especially now in winter, it simply would turn off instantly even when the battery indicator shows 50 percent. Therefore, the charger always stays in the pocket!
There are more theories about nutrition in cycling than about what caused the collapse of the Twin Towers in NY. But one thing is certain: you can’t cycle without eating. It’s pretty well known that once you get hungry, it’s already too late. Therefore, you should eat regularly and even when you plan just a short trip, it’s highly recommended to put a backup cereal bar somewhere in your pocket. Once exhausted, you may be simply too weak to reach back home in time. Or even worse, your fatigue may result in an accident. There’s an endless range of products on the market, so you can choose what you like the best. Certainly, you won’t make a mistake by taking a package of grape sugar. Just in case!
You can’t buy love for money. However, you can buy everything else! Actually, who needs love once you’re married with cycling? Do we have to say more? Well, even though we live in the 21st century, not all retail outlets accept payment by cards. Therefore, we recommend that you always have enough extra money in unmarked bills. Whether you are overcome by a sudden hunger or you are simply too tired to cycle back home and you need to return by train, not Jesus but money will be your saviour.
Regular cyclists know it very well, but some people tend to underestimate it – without a proper eye protection, cycling would turn into an uncomfortable nightmare. Mostly in the morning or in the time of sunset, you can easily be dazzled by low rays of the sun. While encountering a fly is rather unpleasant, a collision with a wasp could also mean the end of the trip. In rain, goggles protect your eyes not only against the raindrops but especially against the grime and water sprayed into your face by the tyre of a cyclist riding in front of you.
10. Bike lock
We admit that for a short trip the bike lock is not essential. But once you go for a longer trip with a break for a meal anticipated, a few grams of additional weight will compensate the value of a bike you earned for in two previous years.