It was hot yesterday; 28 degrees I think. So I went for a 30km ride carrying enough gear and equipment to theoretically guide 8 people around in the middle of Winter! That included tools, first aid kit, spare clothes, a rescue blanket and even a group shelter.
I also took a map, even though I knew exactly where I was and where I was going – testing myself on compass bearings mostly. Part of the plan was also to make sure I was eating and drinking correctly and generally being a model mountain biker and wannabe guide.
All in the name of conditioning and practicing for the weekend ahead.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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?
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!
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.
Yes I have been on a British Cycling mountain leader course. Yes I am planning on leading and am “bound to say this” but just listen for a moment…
Have you ever wanted to ride somewhere new and I don’t mean a trail centre? Of course you have. Did you find somewhere and go ride it? What did you do?
You have a bunch of ways you can go about this and its not that hard really, is it?
So you saw some cool pictures on Instagram of something called Jacob’s Ladder. Where’s that? And the Google search begins. Peak District! That 3 hours away! Looks worth it though…
Next you search for cycling routes, the results that the world wide web presents you with are a little vague and everyone has different opinions on where you should ride – how am I going to decide? I can’t drive 3 hours and miss out “the best trail in the Peaks”!
I hadn’t been out for a few weeks due to family commitments, a cold and yes I had avoided the rubbish weather on maybe 1 or 2 occasions; but today I was going out and needed to get some miles in and much needed time in the saddle.
The UK weather certainly showed me that it can be unpredictable at this time of the year. I couldn’t decide to keep the rain gear and water proof gloves on or to pack it away and just wear the T shirt. I had it all other than snow.
I planned a loop that I had to commit to and short cuts weren’t really going to be an option. But I went prepared with a small packed lunch, snacks and my Alpkit Kraku stove and Mytimug. I had chosen a specific spot for my mid-ride brew, but my lacking fitness and some strong headwinds put me half an hour from where I wanted to stop.
But this little spot by the River Kennet worked out perfect.
In some form of preparation for my upcoming British Cycling course I used only a map and compass for navigation. Yes, you may spot a Garmin on my bike in the photos but this was purely to keep an eye on the time and to record my activity.
My original planned lunch spot above Alton Barnes was a tad windy, but at least by the time I arrived at the highest point in Wiltshire the sun came back out and I could admire the views.
I only did around 24 miles, but with 2000 ft of elevation gain (38km and 650m) it was a good test of my fitness after 3 weeks of no riding.
Spending 4-5 solitary hours in the outdoors gives you time to reflect and relax and I realised how much I enjoy this time by myself as much as I do with friends playing about in the woods.
Wiltshire has a lot to offer for good cross country routes and with plenty of time to think about it, I really feel a plan coming together…