Packing for a cycling trip can be quite the task, especially if packing for a race and would prefer to keep your load as light as possible, or for a cycling holiday where you may need to remember to carry quite a lot of kit with you.
Whether you are competing, planning a day out on your bike or travelling some distance for a multi-day cycling tour, it’s important that you have everything you will need. At Cycle SOS, we’ve put together this handy checklist of what to pack on a cycling trip so you can make sure you have all the essentials and more.
A British Cycling Licence
If you’re planning to participate in a competitive bike race, then a British Cycling License is a necessity as, without it, you may not be able to take part. A full licence will allow you to earn points when racing for both national and regional rankings as well as other benefits like priority entry to races. Please ensure the licence is signed and use a photo of good likeness.
Shoes may seem like an obvious item to wear when cycling, but specialised footwear is a must when racing or riding a long route. You may be able to change and replace some of the kit on this cycling trip checklist, but your shoes will need to be custom to you in terms of the fit, size, the cleat on the sole and its position to attach to your bike’s pedals.
Safety should remain a priority, whether cycling abroad or at home and according to British cycling regulations, no cyclist can race without wearing a helmet. When packing your kit, remember to check your helmet for any signs of damage and if possible, try to take a spare or alternate helmet if taking part in a long-distance cycling trip.
As well as your essentials of shorts, socks and bicycle gloves when racing you will also need to consider the weather conditions when packing clothing. At a minimum, you may want to pack both a short and long-sleeved jersey and then extra base layers if it is likely to be cold, arm and leg warmers are also a great way to keep warm when riding.
A Waterproof Jacket
Like with any outdoor activity, you cannot always guarantee sunshine on your cycling trip or duration of your race. Cyclists should pack a lightweight, waterproof jacket in order to keep dry and warm as well as protection against the wind and rain. Over-shoes may also be a good idea if you’re in for particularly wet weather conditions.
A Pair of Padded Shorts
As well as your regular cycling shorts, you may consider packing some padded shorts. This is ideal for cyclists who are taking part in long rides or cycling trips and would like to remain comfortable on the seat throughout.
A Cycling Cap
You could also pack a cycling cap for your trip. This specialised headwear will keep you warm as well as preventing spray from getting in your eyes from the riders’ wheels in front. Skull caps are also a great option when cold and can be worn underneath your helmet.
A pair of sunglasses will also come in handy, especially if cycling in sunny conditions. As well as protect your eyes from the sun and providing some relief from glare, a pair of sunglasses will also protect you from any grit or insects flying toward your face.
Some Bin Liners
If your kit bag or panniers are not water-tight, it may be a good idea to use bin bags to protect your change of clothes dry. They can also be used to keep your worn items separate from your other possessions.
Plenty of Water
When out on a cycling trip or taking part in a road race, keeping hydrated is essential and depending on your route access to water may be limited. It is therefore vital that you take liquids and a minimum of two bottles of water. Attaching bottle cages to the downtube and seat tube on your bike is an efficient way to carry your drink and are also great for easy access on the go.
When travelling long distances, make sure you pack food items at the top of your kit bag so that your snacks are easy to reach. This is important for when you are running low on glycogen and need an energy boost.
A Puncture Repair Kit
When venturing on a cycling trip, it is always a good idea to take a basic multi-tool, a puncture repair kit including patches and a pump just in case an incident occurs and you need to perform a quick fix. A spare inner tube may also come in handy; this preparation is vital when cycling in remote areas or on rough terrain.
Cash and Bank Card
If you’re embarking on a leisurely cycling trip, you are likely planning to take a few breaks to enjoy the scenery. When visiting rural areas, it is usually a good idea to carry both cash and card so that you can access your money and treat yourself at the local pub or café despite there not being an ATM or card machines.
A First Aid Kit
In case of an incident, try to carry a basic first aid kit with you while out on your bike. It is also a good idea to brush up on your knowledge of first aid too so that you are prepared to handle a situation involving yourself or other riders.
Cyclists should pack and apply sun cream in all weather conditions, especially if riding in a country with a warm climate as you will be riding out in the sun for a long duration of time.
Ordnance Survey maps and other physical paper maps bring about a sense of adventure and are great to use when out on a cycling trip. Plan your journey on the go, account for any changes in weather or plans and explore!
Although you may hope for a break from modern life while on your cycling trip it is still important that you take a mobile phone with you when you go out riding. Access to a phone line is crucial in case of an emergency but you may also use your device for GPS and mapping purposes.
Rather than a map or your phone, you may prefer to pack a head unit as these can be fixed to the handlebars of your bicycle. These GPS devices are ideal for making a note of where you are on the course, or cycling trip and how far off you are from the finish line or end destination.