What to take with you when riding your bike

Ben is member of Cottingham Road Club and an experienced rider – this article is designed to give an insight and answer some questions that new comers may have to cycling .

Within this article I will discuss what I take with me when riding my bike. Some of these are essential and some are optional, it varies depending on the distance you are riding, the weather and the type of riding of you are doing.

Open Roads


Every single ride you go on I would suggest taking the following. I have put them into an order which I think reflects how important they are.

  • Water – Some people might rate this lower but I would strongly recommend you take water on all rides. Dehydration can quickly lead to feeling tired, muscle cramps, dizziness or even fainting. I try to take 750ml for every 20 miles. So on longer rides I would recommend two bottles with water (add energy/electrolyte to suit) and fill up at cafe/shops if needed.
  • Spare inner tube, pump and tyre levers – If you are unfortunate to get a puncture or flat tyre while out on a ride you need to be able to get back on the road to either carry on your ride or get you home. You need all three of these pieces of equipment to change a tube. Some people also choose to carry two spare tubes because the number of times someone punctures and then punctures again before getting home is quite high. Without a pump (or CO2 inflator) your new tube is pretty useless. Likewise tyre levers. If you can’t get your tyre off your new tube is pretty useless. Please don’t rely on other people. Carry your own.
  • Mobile Phone – I class this as an essential because if you were to have an accicent or some sort of mechanical issue that prevents you from riding home you need to be able to contact a family member or friend to get you home safely. If you are on a pay as you go type plan please ensure it has credit.
  • House Keys – Ok so this might sound obvious, especially to us singletons but bare with me. Lets say you live with your partner and you think your only popping out for an hour for a quick ride around the village so you don’t take any keys with you. While you are out your son falls down the stairs and needs rushing to A&E. You get home, try opening the door but its locked and you are stuck on the doorstep in your lycra for the next four hours (would you really go to a friends house for a coffee in your lycra?). Make sure they are stowed safely in a secure (zipped) pocket if possible or on a chain around your neck.
  • Cash – Purely for emergencies (with the exception of cafe stops!). You might need to stop at a shop to get some water or chocolate bar if you run out of water/energy. Or you might need to drop by a bike shop to pick up some emergency parts or maybe even get a taxi home if you can’t complete a ride.
  • ID and Emergency Contact Details – This is purely in case of a worst case scenario. If you should happen to have a serious accident then people need to be able to find out who you are and who they can contact In Case of Emergency (ICE). Hopefully never needed but definitely an essential – this is simple action to perform for a club ride, just complete the ICE form!



Optional (but recommended)

Depending on the weather conditions and type of ride you are going on you might also like to take the following with you.

  • Spare jacket or gilet – If the forecast is changeable then it might be useful to take one of these with you. They can usually be stowed in a pocket if not needed.
  • Food or energy gels – Especially on longer rides. Try to consume small amounts regularly rather than big amounts infrequently to avoid bloating.  The recommend amount varies but is about 75g per hour for a rider weighing around 75kg.

“An easy mistake some people make is to over eat on the bike, I’ve seen this with club riders who will have so much energy drink they’ll actually end up consuming a lot more than they really need. Your body can deal with about 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour which equates to something like a bottle of race drink, or Gatorade; a regular banana or, half a CNP energy bar and half a flapjack. Bananas are great on the bike, the problem with them though for when you’re doing a long ride is that they can go a bit mushy in your pocket. One of the things that pros often do is make small sandwiches with high energy foods as the filler. Panini’s with bananas in, or for longer rides, peanut butter sandwiches are ideal.” British Cycling Website


  • Basic tools – These are often smaller and lighter than the tools in your garage but useful if you need to tighten or adjust anything mid ride – this will no doubt be a full article on its own.
  • Latex gloves – If you have ever changed a tube in the winter you will know how filthy your hands become. Easy solution, carry a pair of latex gloves and don’t worry about getting your nice, shiny kit dirty.

I hope you found this useful. It might be that you carry all of these already but I thought it was worth listing for those that might not. If you feel I have missed anything please let me know.

Also if you have a topic for my next article please get in touch.


Cheers Ben