Packing for an ultra distance bike ride is almost harder than the ride itself. You think you need so much equipment, but the idea of carrying it all for weeks on end is unappealing also. The trick is to do the most you can with minimal equipment, and not forget any of the absolute essentials.
Aside from the most obvious kit, remember to carry these five pieces of equipment to help you around every last bend in the road:
1. Touring GPS
A detailed mapping system is essential for any rider with a destination in mind.
Look for a touring GPS that is multi-purpose. Route finders and maps are essential, but find one that offers great value by also including training data. Connectivity and weather-proofing are important characteristics to consider when looking for a high quality GPS.
If you plan on heading off-road, check out a GPS capable of producing Ordnance Survey maps in addition to road routes.
2. Heart Rate Monitor
Distance rides are not just about seeing the sights. Tracking your level of exertion is as important on the road as it is in the gym, so a heart rate monitor is essential for almost every cyclist.
Make the most of your monitor by learning your lactate threshold before you set off. Your lactate threshold heart rate dictates how fast you produce lactic acid compared to how fast your body can remove it. Combine this information with your heart rate monitor to minimize muscle soreness.
3. High-Tech and Versatile Clothing
The clothing in your bag can make or break a long cycle trip, especially in inclement weather. But you can't pack for all four seasons in one day. Instead, choose high-tech performance wear that keeps you warm at night and cool during the day.
Consider bringing versatile accessories, like a high quality cotton scarf. It can be worn as a scarf or shawl when it's cold, or as a head cover. You can tie it around your mouth and nose during dusty portions of the trip, or use it to dry your saddle after a rainfall or wipe down your tent.
Don't get carried away with high tech clothing. Remember to pack some city clothes for days off.
4. Emergency Locating Equipment
Every cyclist should take the proper steps to ensure that he or she has a way to contact someone in case of an accident or emergency.
A proper kit should include low-tech equipment, like emergency bracelets with your ID and contact information. Pick up a band and a helmet sticker, just in case.
Consider investing in a crash sensor and a cell phone signal booster. Crash sensors attach to a helmet and pair with a smart phone to alert your emergency contact person if and when it detects a big enough shock. The alert also includes the device's location. It does not alert emergency services like police or firefighters.
If certain stages of your trip happen to include a path less travelled, you might also consider a personal locator beacon or satellite messenger. These devices, which work in conjunction with satellite networks, are more reliable than mobile networks in rural areas. Plus, they send out distress signals to the closest emergency service, which is more likely to get to you quickly if you're in deep trouble.
5. Thermal Water Bottles
Hydration is key over long trips, and an insulated or thermal water bottle encourages you to drink water by keeping liquids at the right temperature for hours at a time.
There are plenty of bottles to choose from, including those made of glass, plastic or stainless steel. Look for a bottle that is durable, easy to clean and lightweight.
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