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Ask a pro: Maggie Coles-Lyster on packing a race bag (and not forgetting anything)

The national champ tends to load up, just to be safe

Photo by: Maggie Coles Lyster

Part of being a pro cyclist is being prepared mentally, physically…and sartorially. If you forget your kit or shoes it could be a big problem. Sure, your team may have extra gear, but not always. And having to wear someone else’s shoes in a race could be a disaster for your knees.

Avoiding race day stress

Zaaf Cycling’s Maggie Coles-Lyster can definitely relate to being ready to race, seeing as her French teammate Audrey Cordon-Ragot recently forgot her skinsuit before an event. At the start of the second stage of the UAE Tour, a 133-km race from Dhafra Castle to Al Mirfa, Cordon-Ragot realized her kit was back at the hotel, two hours away. She was in a bit of a cornichon. Thankfully, Coles-Lyster was there to save the day.

The French national champion had to wear Canadian championship bibs at the UAE Tour

“That was a pretty funny day when we showed up and Audrey didn’t have her race suit with her! She took it in such stride though,” Coles-Lyster says. “Luckily she had thrown on her long sleeve French champion jersey because it was a little cold when we left in the morning, and I had an extra pair of my Zaaf Canadian national championship shorts with me. The number of people wondering why she was racing UAE in a long sleeve jersey was hilarious.”

Some people thought she had a sunburn, or was feeling a little cold. But the French rider had no option but to wear the long-sleeved top that day.

Maggie Coles-Lyster fourth in opening stage of Santos Tour Down Under

Pack the night before

Coles-Lyster is a very careful packer when it comes to being ready for race day. “I always pack my race bag the night before the race. I do have a list I can refer to, but obviously it’s a bit different for summer versus winter races. I get very paranoid that I forget things so I’m a chronic over-packer,” the Canadian road and crit champ says. “That means two pair of socks, two pair of glasses, shoes, spare shoes, speedsuit and spare kit as well as rain bag.” A rain bag, as the name implies, is where you stash items in case it gets wet during the event. Pros will usually stash a small satchel or backpack with a rain jacket, booties, gloves and so on, in case the weather is foul, and leave it in the team car.

“I never go to a race without a spare jersey and bibs. It’s helpful in case teammates forget kit, in the case of a podium, pictures, in case I crash but need to be in fresh kit for whatever reason after. Just so many reasons to have spare stuff,” she explains. “Before I go out the door, I check multiple times to make sure my shoes, helmet, Wahoo, race numbers (if needed) and racesuit are there. I check the night before and the morning of the race. I also go over my checklist with my teammates before we get in the van.”