I was recently asked what I bring with me on my bike rides, especially since I have Diabetes and my distances are starting to get longer and farther. I’m no professional athlete and I’m obviously not crossing the entire country (or the Province) but I certainly have some details to consider. Especially if I want to keep from, you know… dehydrating or passing out from low blood sugar.
So with that in mind, here’s a list of the items I carry with me, either on my person or on the bike itself, when I head out on my peddling adventures;
- A Bike: D-uh, right? But obviously you need to get yourself a bike that suits your needs. This bad boy is the Diadora Orbita 18-speed. It retails at about $300 (give or take a few bucks) and is a mountain bike. I point out that last detail because there are a few different types of bicycles including road bikes, comfort bikes and hybrids. The important thing is to ensure that the frame and wheel size are appropriate for your height and that you know what you’ll primarily be using the bike for. If you purchase your bike from a decent retail location, they’ll have specific sales people who deal with bicycles and should be able to help you with that. Depending on what you’re using it for, it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. I would even recommend looking into getting a decent second-hand bicycle. But if you do, be sure to test it out before purchasing it;
2. A Water Bottle: It stands to reason that you need to stay hydrated during your travels. When getting your bike, you want to make certain that if it doesn’t already have a water bottle holder that it at least has the mountings for you to install your own. This is what I did. As you can see from above, there’s a second space to install a second water bottle holder across from the first one (the silver bolt in the lower right corner).
3. Second Water Bottle Holder: Although not a second bottle holder, I use this Nike Bottle Belt that’s actually intended for runners. But it works quite well while cycling as well. Between the two, it allows me to carry about a litre of water. I usually carry one bottle of water and one bottle of sugar-free electrolytes in order to ensure I stay hydrated and don’t succumb to hyponatremia while cycling. Eventually, I plan on getting a second bottle holder on the frame AND use the one pictured above.
4. Rear Accessory Pouch: There are a number of different frame-mounted bags and pouches you can get for your bike. The one pictured above is a small Diadora pouch I purchased at a local retailer that mounts under the seat. I use it to hold house keys, my first aid kit and anything that I would need to stop in order to use, such as nasal spray or painkillers. And speaking of First Aid kits…
5. First Aid Kit: Most people don’t consider this aspect, but if you’re out and about on a bike and are planning on travelling for a significant amount of distance, you need to consider the possibility that you may become injured. I purchased the kit as seen above from the “travel section” at a local retailer. At only $4, it contains a pair of vinyl examination gloves and basic bandages as well as some towelettes. This kit fits nicely in rear pouch of my bike and at such a low cost, it’s easy to replace if you end up using any of it. It’s a pretty basic kit, but honestly if you have an injury that you can’t cover with a bandage or band-aid, you should probably be calling for help;
6. Main Storage Pouch: Alright, here we go. This pouch contains the essentials. I usually bring a small travel bottle of sunblock, gum, lip balm, my wallet and a small Tupperware container of jellybeans. The lip balm is important in order to keep winds and elements from drying and cracking your lips. Your wallet is an important aspect in the event you require medical attention or you happen to be approached by law enforcement (depending on where you’re cycling). The jellybeans are the best form of fast-acting glucose that works well for me. After about ten jellybeans, even some of my worst lows correct themselves quickly. This is also the place where I’ll jam a few dried meat sticks, some cereal bars and even some ibuprofen in the event I need it. The front panel is clear vinyl, allowing me to store my cell phone and see its display as I ride. This is handy as it allows me to use my GPS tracking app and monitor my mileage and what music I’m listening to.
Outside of what you may store on your bicycle, you want to make certain that you’re dressed in comfortable fitness gear. I wear a thin Under Armour long-sleeved jacket, which protects me from wind and other elements and also provides me with pockets for a few small items. I use fingerless gloves so that my hands are also protected from the elements but my fingertips are bare, allowing me to access the touch-screen on my phone.
You also want to make certain to wear an approved helmet and properly-fitted footwear. You’d be surprised how much of a difference it makes if you’re wearing sneakers that fit and are well broken in. Sunglasses are also a must, if not for UV protection, to protect your eyes from the wind and debris as you ride. As I continue to increase my distances, I plan on adding a rear bike rack with saddle bags. In the event that I start travelling for hundreds of kilometres, I’ll start including a single-person tent and a bedroll as well as changes of clothing and additional food and supplies.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself, of course. But the important thing to remember is that planning ahead is the important aspect. You want to make sure that you carry the essential items that you’ll require for the length and duration of your trip. Glucose, hydration and means of communication in the event of an emergency are always a must. ☯