What you should carry with you on every ride

New riders sometimes set off from home with just their feet in the pedals and the wind in their hair. For anyone with a bit more experience, we have learned (the hard or easy way) that it pays to take a few things with you on every ride. The following items will help you
  • make enough repairs to your bike to get you home (or to a phone or place where you can find help),
  • be prepared in case of emergency (to you or someone else), and
  • follow the golden cycling rule of fix it yourself or have the supplies so someone else can do it for you with your supplies (mooching repair supplies is tolerated but always looked down upon).
In the olden days, riders used to have to be able to get home under their own power, no matter what happened. We didn't have phones or people to come pick us up. (Heck, I have a phone but no one to come get me now, so what's the difference?) While it is infinitely easier to find help than it used to be, it is still much easier, safer, and often faster to carry a few essentials with you on every ride.

You can cram a lot of stuff in a little saddle bag. The rest goes on your bike or on you.
  1. Card with ICE (In Case of Emergency) info: your identification (name, age, important medical info), names and telephone numbers (parent, spouse, sibling, friend, etc.), health insurance, and important medical info (alergies, conditions, etc.)
  2. Cash, including a $1 bill: money for emergency ($10-20 should be good), plus a $1 bill which is handy in the event of a big tire blow out
  3. Cell phone, phone card/code, or credit card number (so can call or use pay phone to contact someone)
  4. Inner tube (1 or 2)
  5. Tire levers
  6. Tube patches: in case you get multiple flats or damage a tire severely
  7. Tire pump or CO2 cartridge inflater (check cartridges and pump regularly to make sure they work)
  8. Simple repair tools (multi-tool or individual tools) including: spoke wrench—if you break a spoke this makes the ride home a lot easier; 4, 5, 6 mm hex wrenches; and chain tool to reassemble your chain if it breaks
  9. Saddle bag: just big enough to fit the items above
  10. Water bottle: the water's great, but it also doubles as a wound cleaner, hand washer, and storage compartment
  11. Helmet: don't leave home without one
Of course once you stock up on supplies, it will help to know how to change a flat tire, compensate for a broken spoke, reassemble a broken chain, and more. But at least you will have the tools so a riding partner can help you if something happens.