We know that many folks out there have decided to ride in their first group charity ride this year. Whether the goal is to raise money, challenge yourself, or just have a good time on the bike, it takes some planning and preparation to make for a successful and stress-free day on the road. But all of your hard-earned training and planning can be for naught if you forget a few simple essentials the day of your ride. For advice on what to bring along with you the day of your big ride, we’ve turned to one of the resident Spin Doctors here at our headquarters (and veteran of many charity rides), Gene, to provide his insight into what you should bring to your next charity ride to make your day go as smoothly as possible.
Your bike – Check the condition of the tires, brakes, and drivetrain beforehand. Lube the chain and cables. Inflate the tires to the pressure marked on the tire’s sidewall. Look for cracks and cuts in the tires and replace the tires if necessary. Clean your bike. Some think that a clean bike is faster than a dirty bike. Whether or not this is true, while cleaning your bike, you may find a problem with the bike that was previously overlooked.
A helmet – Your helmet should fit snug without being uncomfortable. The helmet straps should buckle below your chin without putting pressure on your chin. Most charity rides require helmets be worn by all riders.
Water bottle / hydration – Almost as important as a helmet. Dehydration could drastically effect your enjoyment of the ride. You should drink about 28 ounces (a large capacity water bottle) of fluids every 30-45 minutes or whenever you are thirsty. Electrolyte drink mixes will help replenish the minerals lost during cycling activity as well as aid in recovering after the ride.
The front wheel – Bikes transported on roof racks sometimes require that the front wheel be removed. Nothing will ruin your day faster than realizing that you’ve left the wheel behind or misplaced the front wheel skewer.
Floor pump – Makes pre-ride bike prep easier and may lead to new friendships when you help someone else inflate their tires!
Riding gear – Cycling jersey, cycling shorts, cycling socks, cycling shoes, cycling helmet, cycling gloves, sunglasses or eye protection and sun block. None of these items are mandatory, except the helmet, but all of these items will make you more comfortable during and after the ride.
Cell phone – Can contact ride control or a friend for assistance.
Money – Can be used as an extra donation to the charity being sponsored, for a bite to eat on the route, a tip for the mechanic (if you feel their service was exceptional), to purchase a replacement bike part, a dollar bill to “patch” a cut tire, and for post-ride activities.
Knowledge of group riding – There are several sites with good articles about riding in a group, if you want to read up before trying your hand out on the road, available here, here, here and here. But the essentials of riding in a group are straightforward: be predictable, communicate with the group, stay alert, and be considerate of others.
An attainable goal – Ride a route that is suitable for you. Typically, you can safely complete a charity ride route if you’ve been able to recently ride 2/3 of the route’s distance comfortably. Don’t forget to take into account weather conditions and route elevation changes.
Foul weather gear – Be aware of the weather forecast. If rain is forecast, bring rain gear. If the temperature at the beginning of the ride is going to be much colder than later in the ride, layer your clothing so outer layers can be removed during the ride.
Nutrition – “Keeping the gas tank filled”. Nutrition bars and gel packs are easy to use while cycling and provide additional fuel for your ride. Experiment with new drink mixes and nutrition products well before the charity ride, not on the day of the event.