You may be riding as a group of friends, with a club or solo. In all cases you should be prepared to look after yourself in a wide range of mechanical and other eventualities. This means carrying a minimum amount of “stuff” with you to be ready to deal with those eventualities, as well as simple things like having a back-up plan if it goes fundamentally wrong. Like that time my rear wheel rim failed in the middle of The Peak District.
The load-out you’ll need to take will vary depending on many factors, like how far the ride is, how many are out, where you start and finish, what the time of year and day is. But there’s always a core basic minimum that you might need to expand on. It doesn’t matter if you’re solo or in a group, you should always have these things to deal with your own problems.
Basically, never go for a bike ride without:
If you’re running a tubeless set up that might vary. I used to just carry CO2, but having used my whole cartridge on a flat then getting another I now always carry a pump as a backup to the CO2.
The above will get you home/somewhere you can get home from in most cases if you know what you’re doing. Or allows a passing friendly to help you!
So with the mechanical stuff, you’re going to want a few extra things, on every ride, no matter what:
In case of an emergency you need to be able to contact people. That means a mobile phone. You may be an an area with no signal, the advantage in riding in a group is that with people over different mobile networks, the blackspot chances drop a bit. This doesn’t really need any further explanation.
But make sure you protect your phone! Mine is in a Tech21 Evo case, this has some magic drop protection in it. Combined with the Tempered Glass screen protector (Anker) I’ve not damaged the phone despite many nasty drops.
If your phone is not water proof, then it needs to go in at least a small plastic bag. You can get dedicated phone carrying pouches etc. But I generally go with a small sandwich bag and that’s always worked for me!
Make sure if you’re using your phone to record your ride, it also has enough battery power you can phone for assistance in an emergency!
Wow things have changed since COVID-19! I’ve been using Google Pay on my phone exclusively since then. I’ve not found anywhere that can’t handle a mobile phone based contactless payment. But you might not have a pay app on your phone, so maybe take a card, or a bit of cash. Pretty much no-where doesn’t take cash.
I prefer to use my phone to pay as some of the cafes are more expensive than you’d expect, or you find you need to stop off for extra food. When I do carry cash it’s my emergency back up, not my go to!
I’m not really sure anything else falls into this category, except something I carry as personal choice, which is a set of dog tags. These have my name, blood type and emergency contact details on. There are other options. I like these. I’ve had a couple of crashes, including one that caused memory loss. So I like the peace of mind that I have these on me.
If you’re going epic, you’re going to need to carry fuel in the form of something to eat and something to drink. I always carry at least a 500ml bottle of water and an emergency gel (or small pack of Harribo, thanks Wiggle!) Just In Case of unexpected bonking. But what you carry and take on on a ride is a big subject all of it’s own! Just don’t forget to take something!