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Planning for the Worst as a Cyclist

By Christopher Ashley

You’ve pedalled thirty miles away from civilisation, you’re relishing the fresh mountain air, and your legs feel strong. Life on a bike is perfect until something goes wrong and you haven’t got the right kit to fix it. So, what essential kit do you take on a ride?

Inner tubes

A patch kit may be a few grams lighter and it may be cheaper to fix an inner tube, not to mention environmentally conscientious, but do yourself a favour – carry spare inner tubes.

You can still patch your beloved inner tube when you get back to the comfort of your own home. Meanwhile, a spare inner tube isn’t going to cost you the earth and even the thickest puncture-resistant tubes can fall foul to that perfectly placed razor-sharp piece of gravel.


A pen knife works best if you’re prepared to stop once in a while. The best time to look after your tyres is when nothing is wrong – don’t wait for a puncture to hiss its arrival. When you get to the top of a hill, get off your bike, take a photo, and inspect your tyres before the descent.

Use a thin flat blade to poke out sharp stones working their way into your tread. If it’s too late and you’ve already got a flat, don’t use a finger to feel around the inside of the tyre. If the puncture was caused by something sharp, it’s going to cut your finger. And if your Kevlar-reinforced tyres are damaged, the fibres will shred your finger to pieces. Use the flat side of a knife instead.


Life’s too short to spend time pumping tyres by the trailside. Especially if it’s raining and you can feel your body temperature starting to drop. You’re also wasting valuable energy staying in the same place rather than pedalling to safety. Use CO2 canisters to fill your tyres in an instant.

That’s not to say you should ditch the hand-pump but, if you’re in a hurry or the conditions around you are hazardous, CO2 canisters will get you out of trouble and you can easily offset the weight against the time you’ll be saved when you really need it.


I know you’re desperately trying to lose those last 300 grams before that triathlon but you don’t have to finish all your food before you get home. That said, bonking sucks – it’s better to have food and not need it than it is to play the one-man-blame-game on repeat in your head for the last 8 miles home.

If you’ve still got half a peanut butter sandwich by the time you get back to the village, you can chuck it under the post office’s chrysanthemums for the hedgehog to finish off later. So, what unusual items have you found yourself reaching for when heading out the door for a lengthy ride?