You have probably seen that forlorn soul wandering around at an event, unable to take part because he forgot his helmet, cycling shoes or some other indispensable piece of equipment.
With a little forethought and a checklist, you can ensure that this never happens to you.
I like to use a mental checklist of all the gear that will be on my body during a race, from bottom to top:
- shoe covers
- arm and knee warmers (or tights)
- base layer
- heart rate monitor
- jacket and vest
Of course this list might vary slightly depending on the season, which brings up another point. Get the weather forecast, but never rule out the possibility of inclement weather. Be prepared for colder-than-expected temperatures and precipitation.
Include a basic set of bike repair tools in your race bag. A set of hex wrenches, a screwdriver and electrical tape will allow you to repair all but the most difficult problems. Having a pump, spare tube and tire is important as well.
Other, less obvious things that are handy to have with you: towel, embrocation (ointment or rubbing oil) for legs, baby wipes (great for post-race cleanup) and Vaseline.
Vaseline works to keep moisture and cold away from your skin when used on knees or other areas, and is indispensable to prevent chafing in various places.
Add to this your pre-, during- and post-race nutritional and hydration needs, and you are set for any eventuality on race day.
Andy Applegate heads a2 coaching and is an elite-level road, cyclocross and mountain bike racer. He is also a USA Cycling and Ultrafit-certified coach. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information check out www.a2coaching.com.