This Guiding Gig is Heavy Dude

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
Looks innocent enough doesn’t it

This year I decided to take my cycling and interest in mountain biking to a new level and get qualified as a Mountain Bike Leader and pursue the British Cycling course. Why?

I enjoy leading rides for friends and as part of MB Swindon and I’d like to do it more professionally and do something within my local community.

I’ve done my course and today booked my assessment.  Part of the assessment involves demonstrating that you know what you need to carry as a ride leader in a Level 2 environment.  Its a lot of stuff!

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
A bag within a bag?

My EVOC FR Trail Team back pack has a 20 litre capacity and boy do you need it!

As you can see above I put a large dry bag in mine. This is useful as it doubles as a rubbish bag, dry spot to sit on etc and also means someone can assist if necessary and take it all out of my bag without me having to undo my straps.

But whats in it?

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
Woah! Wait a minute!

Its packed full of all sorts of essentials from spare inner tubes to a first aid kit and a group shelter. Lets take a closer look. But be warned, once you go down the rabbit hole you may question what you carry on your rides!

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
Tool bag and  pump

My tool kit is pretty extensive (topic for another blog post I think) and has everything I need for fixing punctures, adjusting gears, breaking and fixing chains, tightening bolts etc It also contains some spares by way of nuts, screws, bolts, quick links and the ever useful gorilla tape and tie wraps.

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
Map and Compass

A map and compass is obviously vital, even though I carry a Garmin GPS and a phone, you can’t rely on technology and more to the point batteries in an emergency.

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
Tools, multiple tools

There’s that tool kit gain, featuring my Leatherman and my Topeak multitool. Also you can see 2x inner tubes including a 26″ tube which will fit all wheel sizes, even a 29er in an emergency.  I have a small microfibre trail towel and some tissues – possible for wiping blood, sweat, tears or grease from your skin – or maybe just for giving your nose a good blow!

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
Rations and money

For a big day out I will carry lunch, but its always good to carry a selection of snacks that you are willing to donate to struggling riders when in need of a boost of energy.  In the case of diabetics, an energy gel could deliver a life saving dose of sugar.

Oh and that’s my wallet!

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
First Aid / Shock Pump

More details – First Aid kit, a mini pump (capable of both Presta and Shrader valves), a shock pump and a couple of orange items. What are they then?

MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
This isn’t even for me!

Well the small orange dry bag, contains a windshell, gloves and a hat for keeping a casualty warm in case we have to hang around for an extended length of time.  While you can ask and expect your riders to carry certain items of clothing and supplies, the role of a Level 2 ride leader is to be prepared in case they haven’t!

A few other items you may have spotted.

  • Pencil and Paper – noting map coordinates, taking other notes perhaps when you have to monitor an injured persons vital signs while waiting for help
  • Group Shelter – that yellow bag is a shelter for 6-8 people manufactured by Cyclewise in Cumbria especially for BC coaches and leaders.
  • Survival bag – the orange rectangle on the right is a large plastic bag that can be used to keep the rain off an injured rider, place on wet or cold ground etc
  • My coat and buff are there too and will be in the bag on a day where the weather could turn.  I’d like a smaller, lighter one but the one I have my eye on is £150!
MTB Guiding British Cycling Leadership
Woah! Wait a minute!

I think that just about covers it. I haven’t weighed it, as I’d rather not know. The bag itself is sturdy, add 2/3 litres of water for a few extra kilos and then fill it with all of this stuff and its significant!

This is best practice and what is advised by British Cycling. You can share the gear out in some groups and you may decide to leave some clothing items behind if the weather can be relied upon. But its important to be prepared and to be capable of carrying this amount of gear.

So when you go on a guided ride spare a thought for the guide as he’s probably carrying a lot more than you are and working harder on those climbs carrying the extra weight. And be thankful that he/she has taken the steps to ensure your safety.

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2 thoughts on “This Guiding Gig is Heavy Dude

  1. I’m just getting myself qualified too. This is really useful information, thanks. Wouls you consider carryover my some of the gear on the bike rather than your back? That’s what I plan to do, but it appears to raise eyebrows – I’m not sure why.

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