Knowledge Level: Intermediate
With all of the hard work you have put into your training, you want to make sure that a simple thing like a forgotten key item of kit doesn’t scupper your sportive. Use this kit-bag list to ensure you have got everything you need for before, during and after your big event.
If you are travelling on the morning of the event, you may well choose to drive in your ride kit but it’s still worth packing some clothing options in case the weather doesn’t pan out as you expected. An early start also makes forgetting something extremely likely so double checking this list and putting everything together the night before is always the best plan.
If you’re staying over before your sportive, it’s even more important to work methodically through this list and, if you’re flying, consider carrying your shoes, pedals and helmet in your hand luggage. That way, if your bike should go missing, you’ll at least be able to use a hire bike. Here is more advice on flying with your bike.
If you are travelling in trainers, it is incredibly easy to forget your cycling shoes. Check wear on cleats and bolt tightness before packing.
If you are flying to your event, you should consider carrying your helmet in your hand luggage but, with all British Cycling Sportives, and many other sportives now making helmets mandatory, this is something to double and triple check you have.
For a cool early morning start lightweight lycra overshoes can make a big difference so throw a pair in your kit bag just in case. If the weather forecast is looking really bad you might even want to consider fully waterproof overshoes.
Keep your options open and pack a variety of lengths and warmths. Make sure though that you have ridden in them before, event day is not the time to experiment with new kit. Also, don’t forget your chamois cream.
Again, give yourself options so that you can tailor your kit to the conditions on the start line.
Probably the most important layer for all-day comfort. Ideally pack long sleeved and short sleeved wicking base layers made out of a material such as Merino wool and, for hot days, you can’t beat a mesh vest.
If it is cool, you may want to wear long fingered gloves but, even on the hottest days, you should still wear fingerless track mitts for protection.
Hopefully you won’t need it but, if you own a decent waterproof, throw it in your kit bag. You should always ride with a lightweight gilet stowed in your pocket to throw on for long descents, if you have to stop for any reason or to provide some protection in a shower.
Leg/knee and arm warmers
Extremely flexible items of clothing that are a kit bag essential.
Here is more advice on ride clothing, but, if you are not limited for space or pushing your baggage allowance, pack as many options as possible. There’s no cost for having to leave some kit in the car or at the hotel but there is if you haven’t got the right kit for the conditions.
Don’t forget your sunglasses, especially if they are prescription, and make sure you have dark, clear and light enhancing lenses.
Here are the essential tools, spares and kit you should always carry when riding.
Bottles and nutrition
If you are using energy or electrolyte powder in your bottles, measure it out into them and also measure out re-fills into zip lock bags if you are not planning on using the energy drink provided at the feed stations. Pack all of the bars, gels and treats you are intending to carry on the ride including a couple of spares in case the feed stations run low.
Gadgets and gizmos
As well as remembering your GPS, bike computer or heart rate monitor, don’t forget to charge them or put new batteries in, this applies to electronic groupsets too. Check you have uploaded the ride route onto your GPS if that is an option and that you have got the right cables to top up their charge the night before.
Extra bottle and snacks
You will want an extra 750 ml bottle of energy drink to sip on during the hours before the sportive rolls off. Also, if you have got a fairly long drive to the start, you will want something to eat approximately 2 hours before you are due to start.
The quickest and most accurate way to double check tyre pressure before you roll off and a guaranteed way of attracting a few riding buddies!
Your bike should be in tip top condition but, if you feel better and more confident following a final bolt check or have had to disassemble it for travelling, it is better to use proper tools rather than a multi-tool.
Again, if you have had to disassemble your bike, note down any key measurements, such as saddle height, beforehand and take a tape measure with you so you can put it back together accurately.
A couple of drops will re-assure you that your chain is running smoothly.
Either for the back of your car or for your hotel room floor.
Post Ride Kit
If you’ve ridden hard, you probably won’t feel like eating but it’s essential to take on the carbohydrates, proteins and electrolytes that’ll kick start your recovery process within 15-20 minutes of finishing your ride. Have the powder ready to in a mixer bottle so all you have to do is add water, shake and gulp.
Shower kit / Wet Wipes
If there are showers at the event, make sure you pack some shower gel. If not, pack some wet wipes to give yourself a refreshing wipe down.
Even if there aren’t showers, a towel is invaluable for wiping down, drying off and changing under.
Although it can be tempting to just jump in the car after a hard ride or to collapse into the nearest bar, putting clean clothes on is essential for both comfort and hygiene. Don’t be tempted to drive home or sit around in your cycling shorts as that’s a guaranteed recipe for infections and saddle sores.
Wooly hat or cap
Even on warm days, you can start to get cold quickly after riding. Your wooly hat should be the first item of kit you reach for post ride.
Even if you have hydrated well during the ride, it is likely you will still be slightly dehydrated and, especially if it is hot, you should start replacing lost fluids as quickly as possible.
Rag and water dispersant
Once you have sorted yourself out, give your bike a wipe down. If it’s been wet, spray some water dispersant on the chain, run it through the rag and re-lube. You won’t feel like doing it once you get home, it only take a minute and will mean you won’t have to deal with a rusty chain.