We discussed outfitting ourselves for road biking, so now we’ll discuss accessorizing our bikes.
You can just pick up your bike and go, but it’s best to outfit it for safety and smarts.
It is key to have a light on the rear of your bike. If you primarily ride on the shoulder of highways, you need people to see you. Whether you’re wearing bright, reflective clothing or not, a red light (like vehicle taillights) is a sure way to get noticed. The light on my bike has the option of just a steady glow or a pulsing light. It wouldn’t hurt to have two and put one on the front of your bike, too.
It is also essential to take extra tubes, tire levers (to pry the tire off), and either a mini pump or an adaptor and CO2 cartridges. I carry mine (as I’m sure most people do) in a small bag that fits underneath a bike seat (saddle bag). However, if you’re going to carry all the equipment to change your tube, make sure you know how to do it!
It doesn’t hurt to carry a patch kit or extra rubber, too. If you hit glass, a large rock, or anything that pops your tire, it could also penetrate your rubber making it easier for tubes to continue popping.
My husband also rides with a couple extra chain links and a multi-tool. I wouldn’t know how to fix many issues, so I don’t bother with the extras!
On that note, take a charged cell phone on every single ride. I’ve used my phone to search how to fix a flat tire. I’ve used it to call my husband when I couldn’t fix a flat tire! And, I’ve used it to call my parents when Kelly and I were far away from home and a spoke broke. You’ll be so grateful if you hurt yourself, if you can’t fix a bike issue, if poor weather blows in, or if you bonk.
About bonking—take enough fuel for the ride, plus one more item. If I’m heading out for a while and think I’ll only need a pack of Honey Stinger Energy Chews and Sport Beans, I take a muffin or Power Bar too. I generally can fit my fuel into my cycling jersey, but for races I use a bento box.
It sits on the front of your bike and is basically a little pack that can hold a number of items. For the two races I’ve completed, I put the fuel into mini Ziploc bags (left opened). That way all you have to do is open the box and you have a mini buffet!
Add water bottle cages to your bike. I have two, and I use them both on most rides.
Pedals & shoes
Clipless pedals are extremely beneficial to the power of your stroke. You not only get power when pushing down, but you’ll also gain power on the upstroke. This power can only be accomplished if your foot is attached to the pedal.
When I started riding I was terrified of clipless pedals. I used regular platform pedals at first, graduated to cage pedals, and then finally took the plunge. I have comfy Northwave shoes. I tried two other types of pedals and really struggled clipping in and out before finding pedals I liked. So be sure to test some out and talk to other riders!
Cycling computers are good substitutes for GPS-enabled watches. They track your distance, speeds, and can even measure cadence, power, and heart rate. They’re nice to have right in your eyesight instead of having to look at your watch. (I use a Bontrager computer, and it’s great!)
These are items I take and use on rides. It’s not an exhaustive list, merely suggestions to get you started. It’s up to each person to decide what they need.
Accessorizing your bike may not be as exciting as buying jewelry, but it should make your riding a bit easier!
What’s your must-have bike accessory?