What to Bring on Your Bike-venture

Photo of 4 friends biking along a trail in Tilden Regional Park.

Okay, so you've mastered the art of pedaling. You've mapped out all the best rides around your house. You've even been known to fly over a speed bump at top speed. Now you're ready to take that exciting next step in your relationship with your bike: a full-day adventure bike ride. Maybe that means you're gonna load your mountain bike or gravel bike onto your car rack for a trek to a local trail, or maybe you're mapping out a super long route starting from your own front door. Either way, a real cycling adventure takes some preparation, and we're here to help.

The day before your ride:

  • Plan your route. We love Trailforks for finding mountain bike and gravel routes, and MapMyRide or even Google Maps works great for road routes. Be sure to filter for roads that have bike lanes. Learn the turns and take notes in your phone or on paper (paper?!) so you can reference them if you need to later on.
  • Prepare your bike. Take some notes from this ridiculously cute kid and go over your ABC Quick Check (that's Air, Brakes, Chain and Cranks, Quick releases and overall Check).
  • Review the rules of the road. If you're heading off-road, peruse our trail etiquette post, or if you're stickin' to the streets, just watch the rest of Aiden's video above, or check out these useful guides from the SF Bike Coalition.
  • Pack your tools. Grab an extra tube or patch kit, tire levers, a hand pump and maybe a multi-tool. Most of this stuff fits really well in a seat bag.

The day of your ride:

  • Pack snacks. You'll want something to energize you when you're ¾ of the way up that monster climb and your stomach starts rumbling. We recommend gels, bars, just a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter packed into a ziploc (only half kidding there), anything easy to eat that'll give you plenty of energy.
  • Hydrate, then pack more water. Drink plenty of water an hour or two before you even head out on your ride. Then, pack even MORE water in a hydration pack, or in a couple of water bottles in your water bottle cage or in your pack.
  • Get dressed. This doesn't just mean your fitness top and bottoms, though you'll probably wanna wear those too. We're talking about sunscreen, chapstick, sunglasses, a light layer you can throw on if needed, wicking socks, shoes that work for your bike, and of course, your mask!
  • Pack the essentials. Keys, ID, wallet, cell phone, extra mask, lil' first aid kit. The basics.  
  • Make sure your helmet fits. Make sure it's not on backwards, and that it's sitting level on your head and is tightened enough to be snug but not uncomfortably tight. You want less than an inch of give under the chin strap, and you want to be able to shake your head without your helmet rattling around. 
  • Tell a friend or family member where you're headed. This is always a good idea when you're heading out alone, or even if you're going with someone else, just in case something happens.
  • Go to the bathroom. Just do it. Nothing's more annoying than a full bladder 30 minutes into your ride.

During your ride:

Drink all that water you packed! Eat your snacks. Pay attention to how your gears work and what feels easiest for you. Practice resting your weight in your feet rather than on your bum or in your hands, and notice how your ride feels different when you move your weight around or shift between gears. If something feels uncomfortable or stiff, take note - there might be fit issues that can be adjusted by a bike fitter later on.

After your ride:

Celebration time! Take a selfie, post it on the whole entire internet and let the world sing your praises! You're a cyclist now and there's a veritable feast of resources and inspiration out there to help you start planning bike adventure number 2.

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