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?


  1. Rick

    in these parts, you’d better carry an extra derailleur hanger with you cause there are sneaky sticks everywhere just waiting to ruin your ride.  If you have one, you won’t need it, if you don’t, you will.

  2. Unknown

    chapstick with sunscreen- usually one pre-ride application does the trick. i’ve  never ridden over 6 hours though.

  3. Unknown

    I like to take an extra set of lungs, because mine suck (well of course they suck (I know it’s actually the diaphragm that creates the negative pressure) but I mean suck as in don’t work well)
    As for you, Fatty, I suggest an extra spleen and liver to replace the ones you’re going to (claim) to have lacerated on one of your wrecks.

  4. Unknown

    you don’t need to have your bike tuned up first. remember before we did the kokopelli in one day, and you asked if i was going to have racer give my bike the once over, and i said "no, it’s running great, why mess with it?"
    oh, wait. maybe that’s not a good example.
    i did wear brand new shoes for the first time on the laramie range enduro. no problem. i did wear a brand new wool jersey for leadville. took a long time for my nipples to heal. i think i’ve lost sensitivity.

  5. Unknown

    I’m prepping for an epic road ride this weekend but the list is similar.  I’d add:
    – Cellphone – to call for medevac when Rocky (or my local sweathog-analogue) bonks so bad there’s no return.
    – Tiny first aid kit – so that if somebody is bleeding really badly, you can put the kit on the hole to cover it up so you don’t have to look at it.  The red cross on the top will mark the spot nicely for follow-up attention by medicos or put the undertakers on notice that they need to plug the hole before the funeral.  Whassat?  Use the stuff inside the kit?  What are these magical band-ah-jests’ of which you speak?
    – Couple Motrin "Horse Pills" – the 1000s or 1200s – in a snack baggy.   Maybe next to your money and ID.  If riding in Colorado, indigenous "ditchweed" may be available for the same purposes, though proper utilization requires a flame source and Doritos.  
    – Excuses.  Bring a bunch.  They don’t weigh much, they store pretty handily in the empty space between your ears, under your helmet, and you can use them at a lot of different points in the ride.  Skillful users don’t stint, and will often employ several at once, for a synergistic effect, e.g. "Man, the chainsuck is killing my legs, it’s like they haven’t recovered form that hill workout yesterday or something… Nuts, I knew I should have ridden my 29’er." 
    – Credit card, and photocopy of the overall rankings in the local restaurant guide.  Huh?  No. I told you it’s an epic road ride.  You think I’m eating Gu and 4 other forms of baby food all day, when I pass two brewpubs, an exquisite French restaurant, and no less than 10 Sheetz gas station/convenience stores?  Hells no!

  6. jim

    I guess I am a nerd.  I went back and read all of your entries from the beginning when I first foudn the site.  So there are a few of us that are familiar with RAMROD 05.
    By the way…did anyone win your bet?  Probably not me.  I realized the next day that "Unrespected" should have been "Disrespected".  I am such an idiot.

  7. barry1021

    Dug said:
    i did wear a brand new wool jersey for leadville. took a long time for my nipples to heal. i think i’ve lost sensitivity.
    See Dug if you had FC’s checklist, you would have discovered one of those "million uses" for the duct tape.
    So FC, you’re going to have your own logo. We are beyond excitement, can you tell. I can’t wait to wear something that says Fat Cyclist on it, and then some pretty thing on a bike can say, "excuse me, but aren’t you just stating the obvious?" Wait a minute, what am I saying? I would actually have to WIN something to get a logo.

  8. Unknown

    flashlights, extra batteries, generator,
    oh, wait. that’s hurricanes.
    don’t run with scissors, nope that’s
    not it.
    oh yeah, change all your buddies computers
    to kilometers.  he he he he.

  9. david

    List for Canada on the B.O.B.
    SHARED, (one half each on the B.O.B/bikes):
                Fuel bottle/pump
                Tool kit/ Tire levers/Pedal wrench
                Tire pump/CO2
                Candle Lantern
                Maps/Guide Books/
     SOLO, (I’m going to take on the B.O.B):
    Phone Card
    Credit Cards
    Sleeping Bag
    Yellow safety vest, for riding
    Bike Cable Lock and key
    Sleeping Pad
    Inner Tube Bike
    Inner tube B.O.B.
    Tire Patch
    Cook set and utensils
    Lighter/or Matches
                Teabags X 12
                Coffee creamer X 12
                Sweetener X 12
                Oatmeal  X 6
                Junk Food for bike (not much)
                8 day supply of RX meds
                8 day supply of Tang
                Contact solution and case
                            ASA Tylenol
    Water Bottles for bike X2
    Nalgene Bottles for camp X1
    Petzil Light
    Rain Jacket
    Rain Pants
    Baseball hat, (for helmet head)
    Bandana (or camp towel if I can find it.)
    Bike Shorts, (for riding)
    Yellow bike shirt, (for riding)
    Bike Socks, (for riding)
    Bike shoes, (for riding)
    Gloves, (for riding)
    Helmet, (for riding)
    Nylon shorts with pockets for over wear when wearing nasty bike clothes
    Shirt with pockets for over wear when wearing nasty bike clothes
    Nylon camp shorts
    Nylon camp shirt
    Nylon Patagonia long pants with pockets for dress up
    TravelSmith Shirt for dress up


  10. Tom

    A mobile phone. Sorry, cell phone for you.
    It’s always a good thing to have, especially if you get totally wrecked.

  11. Dodger

    You might even consider bringing a couple extra water bottles in case anybody else forgot theirs.  I did this on a team ride 2 weeks ago and only one person out of 40 and one extra bottle. 
    I forgot his name, but because of him I had no problems on the ride.

  12. Unknown

    Instead of wrapping duct tape around your seat post, wrap it around your pump.  Duct tape has a million uses, but making your bike look better isn’t one of them.  Keep it stowed away with your pump.

  13. Unknown

    Electrolyte pills saved me on my last endurance ride.  That and putting wax on my nipples.  Dug- you might need a larger portion of wax.
    Rick S

  14. BIg Mike In Oz

    David – It look like you’re planning on getting lost for a week.  This is an epic ONE DAY ride.  But since your list of 60 items didn’t include a map you will probably end up being out overnight, so good plan with all that extra stuff.
     – – – –
    I did my longest ride for over 5 years yesterday.  A solo 75 miles in a touch under 4 hours.
    What did I have…pumptubes 2tyre levers 3bananas 2fruit bars 2water bottles 2spoke key (wrench)MP3 playermobile phonecredit card
    What I didn’t have but needed…sunscreen (oops then, ouch now)more than 15 songs in the MP3 player

  15. Teamfubar

    Thank GOD!  I finally know of someone that has had the dreaded bleeding nipple syndrome (BNS).  I first incurred BNS during a MTB race in Sundance WY.  It was a 35 miler with about 5000′ elevation gain.  After the race was over, someone asked me about the peculiar design of the Fisher grassroots team jersey I was wearing.  I looked down to see two inverted teardrop shapes stemming from my man-boob area.  ‘Twas blood, not the design of the jersey…though the red of the blood went well with the yellow/red/green jersey colors.

  16. Unknown

    Wow, Elden!  I hope you are putting all this together into a book or manual or something. You may be saving someone’s ride, their week, or maybe even their life.
    You probably didn’t get this story, because it’s local, but a nearby cyclist went cycling alone up into the mountains, without telling anyone where he would be, got hurt, had to abandon his bike, spent the night in a hole at 40 degrees, while family, friends and search and rescue looked for him, etc.  They found his truck at a trailhead but couldn’t find him. He was found the next morning but his wife wouldn’t let anyone go back to get the bike. 
    Hugs to you and yours,

  17. Tim D

    Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong!
    Prepareations for an epic ride are as follows.  Give your tyres a bit of a squeeze and make a note to put a bit more air in.  Go for a quick whizz up and down the road, if you can change a few gears & the brakes sort of stop you, OK.  If you can’t change gear, put a bit of 3 in 1 on the chain.  Don’t bother checking if that has fixed it.  Get a few beers down you.
    In the morning, forget you’ve put your front wheel on the floor & drive over it as you leave.  Take the 48 spoke Rhyno front wheel, with the slick tyre off your tandem and race off.  Arrive at the meeting point and realise you’ve forgotten your shoes. 
    Food – a melted lump of loose powerbars that have all congealed, some dry fig balls that suck you dry, washed down with out of date High 5 in a mouldy Camelbak.

  18. Unknown

    I’ll note that in TimD’s very good instructions, he says you need to ensure you have a "mouldy" camelback.  That’s correct.  Being English, and under heavy rainfall pretty much every day, their mold is extra moldy, and the proper way to express that, as TimD shows, is "mould" with an extra "u" in it.  You don’t need to use this spelling in the U.S. unless you ride in Seattle.  Or anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic yesterday. 
    One added point.  If you aren’t sure whether your camelback is mouldy enough, check the color of the mold.  If the colour of the mould is bleu, then you are ready to geaux.  Roque on!

  19. BIg Mike In Oz

    Al – I have to side with Tim D.  Mould is mould.  Mold is the lowest-common-denominator phonetic version adopted by the US education system. 
    Although I’m sure phonetic will soon be fonetic, since sulphur has recently become sulfur under the Stah Spangelled Banna.
    We’ll keep spelling English style in the Commonwealth and you can spell homogenised English (known as ‘Mercun) in ‘Murica.
    Before you start… homogenised in not missing a Z, it’s spelled according to the 5 dictionaries in my house.

  20. Azriel

    C’mon! you have forgotten the #1 life saver – TISSUE PAPER (also use cleanex). In case #2 calls in. A good wipie (those you clean the babies butts with) is also a good idea, especialy if the gel you try opening while riding does not open the way you thought it should…This way, you will never use poison ivy again 🙂

  21. cawddup

    1. Essential packing: chain tool.  You may have one on your chain tool, but do you know if it works?  Checking that it does will make sure you know how to use it.  If you have a Shimano chain take a couple of their snap-off replacement link pins (make friends by packing  more than one).  Oh, then you need something to snap the bloody things off with, like a pair of pliers.2. Fat Cyclist logo: please do a (baggy) cycling jersey.  I’d buy one as it would, as Barry1021 says, amount to a gloriously blinding statement of the obvious.  It might be an idea to incorporate Teamfubar’s "inverted teardrops stemming from the man-boob" motif.When I place my order you can send it along with the copy of MS Office I won from you.

  22. Rebecca

    ID and/or contact in emergency.  No one wants it to happen, but if there’s a problem, you want someone to come get you.  Dead or alive.  You can carry a license or something else.  I wear dogtags with contact info on long rides or runs, esp. if I’m out by myself.

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