Epic Ride Checklist

A week from today, I’m heading to Moab to ride the 2006 edition of Kenny’s annual “Ride Around White Rim in One Day:” RAWROD ’06. For those who haven’t been keeping up with my blog since it began (that would be all of you, since when I started writing, the only hits I got were my own, along with a few sympathy clicks from family), it was RAWROD ’05 that woke me up to the fact that I was fat, in desperately bad condition, and needed to do something about it.

The number of people who attend this ride has exploded from the six or so the first time we did it to about forty this year.

Which brings up a question: How do you know when your annual group ride with a few close friends has gotten out of control? When you start doing t-shirts for it. (This t-shirt, by the way, will be the first place anyone will see the Fat Cyclist logo I recently had designed. Expect to see it on stuff I give away before long.)

So as I’m getting my stuff ready for the trip, I realize: this is one thing that I’m really good at. I have done so many long rides that I know pretty much exactly what to bring and what to eat for an epic ride. So here’s a little bit of actual useful knowledge. Use it to whatever degree you like.


Your Bike
Have a mechanic you trust do a serious tune-up. Tell your mechanic what you’re going to be doing, how important it is to you to not have any serious mechanicals while on the trail, that your life is in his/her hands. Have the mechanic thoroughly check the spots that, if broken mid-trail, could be especially problematic, including:

  • Bottom bracket
  • Hubs
  • Chain
  • Headset
  • Frame
  • Rims, rim strips and tires: Nothing is more annoying on a ride than getting a bunch of flats. If you’ve been getting a lot of flat tires on rides, like one flat every two or three rides, check (and if necessary, replace) the rim strips, and/or buy a new set of top-notch tires.
  • Shifting and brakes

Then make sure you tip that mechanic well. And if your bike rides beautifully the whole time, tip him/her again when you come back.


What to Wear

Wear what you’re used to wearing. Do not ever wear new shorts, new shoes, a new jersey, or new anything on a long ride. It’s not fun to discover during a long ride that due to the abrasive nature of your jersey, your nipples are now bleeding. Yes, I have had that happen to me. It looks stupid.

Anyway, here’s the checklist of stuff you absolutely must have with you. It seems silly to have to make this list, but I’ve arrived at long rides and seen people who have forgotten one or more of these.

  • Helmet
  • Glasses
  • Jersey (+ jacket if it’s cold)
  • Shorts (+ tights if it’s cold)
  • Gloves
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Camelbak or water bottles: full

Your Gear
It’s not easy to find the right balance between riding light and having everything you need. Since epic rides are (rarely) about being super fast, though, it’s better to have a little too much and ride a little slow than to die in the desert. Just an opinion, mind you. Here’s a basic checklist, which would need to be adapted for terrain and climate:

  • Water: 2 ounces per mile is a good rule of thumb, but can go up to 3 ounces if it’s a hot day. It’s a good idea to have water in a bottle as well as your CamelBak, so you can squirt water onto any wounds that need cleaning.
  • Food: You can get by with energy bars, but it’s nice to have a real meal some time on the trail. For myself, I like chicken soup.
  • Energy gels: Nothing can prevent–or bring you back from–a bonk like these. Carry more of these than you think you’ll need (at least 5), because one of your buds may need one.
  • Pump: Duh. If you haven’t changed a flat in a while, check and make sure that pump works. (You can go with CO2 instead, but for a long ride, a pump is the safer bet.)
  • Tubes: Two. Make sure they’re good before the trip begins (replacing one flat tube with another sucks).
  • Multi-tool: There’s a million different brands, lots of them very good. Make sure you know how to use yours.
  • Patch kit: Enough to change another two tires.
  • Extra Chain Links: If you don’t have extra links, fixing a broken chain shortens the chain, which means you may lose a few gears.
  • First aid kit
  • Money: You never know what you’ll need it for (food? water? a ride?), but it doesn’t weigh much.
  • Duct tape: It’s got a million uses. Wrap a couple yards around your seatpost. I promise, you will at some point use it, and when you do, you will feel incredibly smart for having that tape.
  • Chamois Butter, or other chamois cream: It feels creepy (or, depending on your tendencies, strangely erotic) when you first put it on, but it prevents saddle sores in a big way.
  • Sunscreen: Especially toward the beginning of the season, a full day in the sun can mean some serious reddening and suffering if you don’t slather yourself.
  • Camera: If you’ve got a small one, take it.
  • Map: If you don’t know the terrain.
  • Lube: If you use a wax-based lube, it won’t last for the entire ride, so you’ve got to bring extra. If you use Dumonde Tech, the lube will last the whole ride, so you can forget about it.
  • Extra clothing: If your ride has large changes in elevation, especially in spring or fall, keep a shell and tights with you just in case the weather turns nasty. 

Did I miss anything?

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