The other night I was out cruising some trails on my mountain bike when I encountered a guy pushing his bike towards me. Based on a quick look, he and the bike appeared physically fine. I slowed and asked if he was alright. “Yeah” he said, “but do you have a tube?” This isn’t the first time I’ve come across a rider, or been riding with someone, who had this problem. Turns out I did have the tube he needed, and the air he needed, and the tire lever he needed, all in a tiny little unobtrusive pack under my seat. No problem – my question is, why doesn’t everyone arm themselves with a similar kit?
As mentioned, I carry everything I need in a single small pack that straps under the saddle of my bike. I actually have a separate one for each of my bikes, which saves the hassle of repacking with an appropriate sized tube and tools for each ride. The stuff is always in the pack, and the pack is always with the bike. It’s there if I need it, and I rarely have to think about it.
At a minimum on my road bike I carry a spare tube, CO2 cartidge and valve adapter, a tire lever, and a small cloth rag. I would also suggest a pair of thin rubber gloves if you’re worried about getting your hands dirty while changing a flat (especially for those with white bar tape!) This basic kit is going to keep you rolling if you end up with a flat, and adds very little weight to your bike. The whole thing is contained in a pack only slightly larger than the tube itself. If you’re racing, or in an event with mechancial support (like GranFondo Niagara Falls!) you can just take the whole thing off and leave it at home to save some grams. Every few weeks I will open it up and make sure everything is still there, clean, and ready to be used if necessary. Aside from what is in my seat pack I will sometimes supplement this with a small multitool in a jersey pocket (and usually a cell phone for major emergencies).
To me this is a no-brainer. When I get the chance to get out for a ride, I want to spend it riding and not pushing my bike down a trail or waiting at the side of the road for someone to pick me and my flat tire up. Of course you also need to make sure you know how to change a tire with the repair tools you are carrying. Practice with the CO2 cartridge and tire lever. Having this stuff with you, and knowing how to use it will make for a much better Gran Fondo training experience!
I have been selected to represent GranFondo Canada’s inaugural GranFondo Niagara Falls in 2013 as a blog ambassador. I will be posting a series of entries like this one leading up to the event, and wrap it up after participating in the ride in September.