Packing is a vital part of any riding trip; one easy to overlook when time is tight.
Evidence for my failure to bring shoe covers to a recent sportive preview can be found in the accompanying image: my beautiful Dromarti Race shoes reduced to the appearance of an artefact from the Battle of the Somme.
This will be the last time I forget to pack an item of clothing, or indeed any ride essential. Future embarrassment (and cold, wet feet) will be avoided. From today, I use, The List.
The List will be my protection against the shame of the forgotten bidon.
It will save me from the hair-tearing frustration of a helmet left in the wardrobe, and from the sinking feeling that accompanies the slowly crystalising vision of pedals still attached to the ‘second’ bike, itself attached to a turbo trainer somewhere in a distant garage, far, far away.
At the head of The List, figuratively and literally, is the helmet, a device no sane person will ride without. Additional headgear requirements might include a fleecy liner for winter days or a cap for spring/autumn use. Glasses will be a must for all seasons. From this section of The List, only the helmet is truly essential, but the consequences of a forgotten liner (a cold head) or glasses (squinting into the sun, narrowing the eyes against the wind, blinking on bugs and miscellaneous airborne debris) are enough to remove any pleasure.
Working downwards, the torso can be covered by any of a multitude of garments, depending on conditions. The List includes “any” and “every”. It is a reference from which to pick and choose, and, when the picking and choosing is done, to refer again. So we have: base layer (short sleeved and long), jersey (the same), arm warmers, gilet, windproof jacket, and waterproof.
Temperature regulation is the key, here. Who hasn’t started a ride warm and cosy only to feel within five miles more insulated than their own loft? Or been forced, after 30 miles, to admit their fatal miscalculation on the arrival of that long-predicted weather front and be willing to exchange their own teeth for a waterproof jacket?
The List’s legwear section is comparatively brief: shorts, knee warmers, bibknicks, and longs. Bibknicks might be replaced on some riders’ lists with a lined short. It is my intention to do so. For the time being, they’re the only item of legwear I have, excepting a full tight, that’s fleece lined in the seat and the crotch.
Photographic evidence for a carefully planned approach to footwear can be found above. The humble shoe cover can be barely be praised enough; it’s frequently thin structure is still sufficient guard against the elements and the debris pictured above. Merino socks are earmarked for winter use; cotton for summer. They’re various lengths are aesthetic considerations only Shoes are included on The List as an aide-mémoire. A riding trip without shoes ends before a pedal is turned.
Among the miscellaneous accessories on The List, only food is a deal breaker. A forgotten bidon can be replaced by a bottle of mineral water, although its appearance will leave you shamefaced. A Garmin left on charge may deprive you of any of the fascinating data of the ride, and of targets to aim for, but its absence will not prevent you from pedaling. The brave can chance a ride without pump or canisters, tubes and levers, spare link or Allen keys.