The first time I got a puncture whilst out on a ride, I was stood atop of Ditchling Beacon with no puncture repair kit, no pump, no battery on my phone and basically no hope of sorting myself out without the help of a passing cyclist. That was coming up to 4 years ago now, and thankfully, I’ve learned a thing or two since then.
There are a couple of items that my cycling life would be more difficult without. Inner tubes and tyre levers go without questions – but here are some of the other items I wouldn’t want to be without – from the beign, to the luxurious:
I know – a pump is perfectly adequate, but it doesn’t really get you rolling on the same PSI, does it? I hear the pump devotees shouting “mine does!” – and I know there are some amazing pumps that can get you up to 120 PSI, but they take absolutely ages with my scrawny little arms. C02 cartridges offer such a simple solution – screw the cartridge into the applicator, pop it onto the valve, wait for a hiiisssss and you’re fully inflated.
I realise that using a C02 cartridge isn’t as environmentally friendly as a pump, either – but this year I can confirm I’ve used a grand total of zero. Last year, I used about 5 perhaps. I look after my tyres and I don’t get a crazy number of punctures (the puncture fairy will surely visit me now..), but knowing I have the little used safety net in my saddle bag is reassuring.
My only regret in getting this jacket for my 23rd birthday was that Castelli released a women’s version about a month later. However, it’s black, which since it’s an item to be worn in the rain (eg when visibility is reduced) a black jacket doesn’t seem the smartest choice, anyway. The jacket comes in yellow and white, now, which is much smarter. The Sottile rolls up into my jersey pocket, and comes out when it’s raining. It doesn’t keep me totally dry, but it does a good job at keeping me mostly dry – and it keeps the wind off my chest, too.
No, this is not because it suits my personality (who said that?!) – but because it’s massive. My fiancé calls the Dirtbag my saddle-suitcase, and I can appreciate that when full it probably adds a tonne to my bike. I bought it before a training camp in Majorca last year when I knew I’d need a day’s worth of kit stuffed in there – and now I use it for winter training rides when I want two tubes, my phone, keys, co2, allen keys, and some gels – and it fits all of those things.
A roomy saddle bag is useful on long rides. It may seem extravagantly large, but my argument is that the pockets on a women’s jersey are usually smaller (since women are smaller) – and thus we can fit less “stuff” in there.
This is a lot more extravagant than a large saddle bag, I will admit. However, training with power is a revolution to anyone who tries it. Once you’ve gone down the long, windy road of Wattage, I’d say you aren’t coming back. I realised how much I rely on the PowerTap for training when it got sick (it turned out it needed me to turn “AutoZero” back on) and I had to train without it. Returning to using perceived exertion felt strangely daunting and a tiny bit liberating – in a bad way – I could lie to myself about how hard I was training over intervals without a number on my screen. Of course, training with power is something you would want to do if you had a goal of getting faster – so if you ride to commute or just to get outdoors, I can appreciate it’s not for you. However, for anyone wanting to race and achieve PBs, I’d recommend a power meter and a coach over a swanky bike, any day.
The Ass Saver is a new kind of mudguard – a compact one that fits onto a road bike without any fixings or tools. This tiny bit of plastic will reflect the worst of the rain and road debris, keeping my bum dry without requiring me to fit big heavy full mudguards. At under £10, the Ass Saver isn’t a big investment, but it make a big difference on a wet day.
If you’re looking for discounts on all this cycling gear, I recently came across www.voucherbox.co.uk which has voucher listings of various online shops. Give it a look and I hope it helps!
Those are my top items – what would you not want to ride without?
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.