Regardless of the mileage you’ll be hitting, if you plan to spend six hours or more on your bike there are a few things you’ll need to think about before you leave the house for your adventure. Here’s what you’ll need to pack for a full day on the bike.
A bar bag, bento box or even a small frame bag will be incredibly helpful for carrying nutrition, tools and general odds and ends. Your pockets have a limited capacity and bringing any additional storage will help you minimize the number of times you’ll need to stop to refuel.
In addition to expanding your food possibilities (sandwich doesn’t fit in your pocket? Put it in the bag), bar or frame bags can also carry a much-needed extra bottle.
Proper hydration can make or break a ride, particularly in the summer months. Bottles with a bigger capacity will last long and a third bottle (stored in a bag, third cage or even back pocket) can be a lifesaver in rural areas with no stores around.
Hydropacks are also a great way to carry extra liquids on long rides. Lachlan Morton, currently doing his solo Tour de France, is often spotted sporting one.
There’s no question that you’ll need to replenish your electrolytes, so either bring some of your favourite sports drink mix to add to your water or plan to buy some Gatorade on the road.
On a full-day ride, even if you’re eating what seems like a lot, it’s unlikely you’re actually eating back all the calories you’re burning. Get an idea of how much you need to eat per hour at the pace that you’re riding at and pack accordingly. It’s better to bring a bit too much food than too little food.
If possible, vary your snacks a little bit. Even a delicious granola bar can get pretty old by the time you’re on your fifth one of the day. Though sweet foods gels and gummies will give you the carbs your need, packing some savoury snacks will give your stomach a break from the unrelenting sugar.
You know what works best for your body, so it’s probably not a good idea to try out new nutrition strategies on a long ride.
Comforts and emergencies
There are a few other things that can come in handy when you’re spending hours on the bike. In addition to the regular items you carry in your saddle bag, pack an additional spare tube, patches and Co2 canister in case of multiple flats. If your phone or bike computer battery isn’t great, bring a small portable charger.
You might be only planning on riding during the day, but front and rear lights, in case of emergency, are always a good call. Even if there’s a small possibility of rain, a lightweight packed shell can also bring you some major relief if the weather turns sour.
If it’s the summer, you’ll need to pack sunscreen to avoid any additional exhaustion from a burn. Lip balm and contact lens drops (if you wear contacts) will help relieve chapped lips and dry eyes. Finally, on a long ride, changing into a fresh pair of socks 2/3 of the way through feels incredible.