Ready for anything
Dodge the race day panic and ensure you have everything you need for a great ride
Remember the Five Ps – Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance… or the Six Ps if you wish to add an expletive. Either way, there’s a lot of truth in it. Getting to an event knowing you’ve got everything you require means far less stress. The last thing you need is to realise that you’ve got to ride a 150km sportive without any
socks because they’re a hundred miles away
in a drawer at home.
You can’t always prepare for every unseen eventuality, but with a little bit of forethought you can be the one chilling out with a second cup of coffee while others run around like headless chickens. Only taking the things you know you’re definitely going to need is a trait of the inexperienced. The seasoned rider also packs quite a bit of stuff they hopefully won’t need, but will be glad of if they do.
Having a dedicated kit bag will help you to pack strategically too, so everything has a place, and almost becomes a visual checklist.
A good rule to follow is to pack the outfit you think that you are most likely to need, then pack for one level up (conditions-wise) and one level down as well. That way, if the weather gods inflict any last minute punishment, or perhaps even treats, you’ll smugly have it covered.
Jersey, bib-shorts, arm-warmers, leg-warmers (or tights), knee-warmers, socks (plus spares), short-sleeved base layer, long-sleeved base layer, wind-proof base layer, packable jacket, gilet, long-finger gloves, mitts, oversocks, cotton cap, warm jacket, woolly hat
As well as all your normal clothing, the core of your kit bag should be centred around those essentials without which you simply won’t be able to ride: your shoes and helmet. A last check that cleat bolts are all present and tight is 30 seconds well spent just before you pop your shoes in the bag. If you don’t have a specific compartment for your helmet, protect it with something soft like a towel to guard against dinks and dents during transit.
Helmet, sunglasses, shoes, pump, inner tubes, GPS/bike computer
If there’s one place where the ‘eating is cheating’ mantra doesn’t ring true, it’s during
a sportive. Forget your food and you’ll find yourself either perusing a petrol station’s range of £5 flapjacks the night before or, worse, making a date with a bonk, so to speak. It’s worth planning an eating and drinking strategy well in advance. Conventional wisdom says to eat 60-90g of carbohydrates per hour (during the event) in gel or bar form, and somewhere around 300ml of water per hour. Wrapping a couple of electrolyte tabs in cling film and sticking them in your pocket is a handy tip for refills on route. Also, take a sacrificial bottle to the start and sip from it while you wait for the off. It can then be discarded and means you start with the bottles on your bike brim full.
Two bidons, a disposable bottle of water, electrolyte tabs, energy gels, energy bars, isotonic drink powder
Whatever happens on race day you can guarantee one thing: you’re going to get wet. Whether it’s from the rain or just from your sweat, damp kit will ensue and you’re going to need somewhere to put it. Separate bag compartments are one thing, but to be super sure carry a couple of plastic bags and a bin bag or two. Bin bags have other uses too – they can be ripped open to make excellent car park changing mats, or you can punch arm holes in them as a disposable way of keeping warm and dry before the start if you don’t want to carry a jacket with you once you set off.
Safety pins, plastic bag, zip ties, bin bags, first aid kit (including personal medication such as inhalers), café lock, towel
Lotions and potions
As they say in the Army, any fool can be uncomfortable. Discomfort can become an unbearable companion on a seven-hour sportive, so for goodness sake don’t forget the anti-chafe cream and apply sparingly, particularly on hot days as sweatiness tends to increase the chances of chafing. Having some warming leg rub for a sudden drop in temperature will ensure you’re not struggling to kick your legs out of a cryogenic state all day. As Baz Luhrman says, ‘Always wear sunscreen. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists.’ Simple as that, sunburn hurts like hell and will drain energy quicker than you think.
Warm-up balm, sunscreen, vaseline, chamois cream, moisturiser, recovery balm