You’re almost ready to do that mountain bike tour you’ve spent months planning. Now is the time to check if you’ve got everything packed and ready to go. Here’s what you’ll need to pack for your first mountain bike tour.
Mountain Bike Tour Essential no. 1: A Suitable Bike Rack
It’s obvious that you can’t wish your bike to your destination! So, the first item on our checklist is a bike rack, a nifty car accessory that makes bike transportation a breeze. Do keep in mind that there are literally hundreds of rack models, each of them tailored for a specific kind of bike.
For example, bike racks for cars with spoilers, albeit great for carrying larger bikes, are even greater for your vehicle. Due to their position, these racks don’t alter your car’s aerodynamic quotient (friction between the car’s surface and the wind), which translates into a smoother ride to and from the location. Also, they take into account your car’s construction.
If this is your first mountain bike tour, we strongly advise you buy a bike rack for your car. It’s simple to use – put the bike or bikes on, use the straps to secure them in place, and you’re good to go.
Mountain Bike Tour Essential no. 2: A Good Multi-tool
In line with the Boy Scouts’ credo, “Always be prepared,” a multi-tool is one the first things you should pack. When buying one, be sure to check out its packaging to see the tools list. Keep in mind that there are various types of multi-tools out there, with each set corresponding to a different sport or outdoor activity. For instance, it is not a good idea to buy a multi-tool designed for camping and hunting, because, chances are that it does not contain the implements you’ll need to fix a bike problem.
As a rule of the thumb, a good mountain bike multi-tool should contain the following tools:
- Open wrenches (8 and 10 mm would do).
- Hex Keys.
- Flat-head screwdriver.
- Spoke wrenches.
- Philips screwdriver.
- Allen wrenches.
- Chain tool (because a loose chain means that you’ll need to carry your bike).
- Star-shaped tools.
You might think that such a tool would be very expensive, but chances are that you’ll be able to get one at around $25, depending on the retailer. Don’t forget to bring along a chain tool, because those trails tend to take a toll on your bike.
Mountain Bike Tour Essential no. 3: GPS
As a novice rider, it’s not a good idea to wander off the beaten path. For your first mountain bike tour, it would be a good idea to choose a route that has an easy-to-follow trail.
However, if you do lose your way, a GPS will definitely help you get back on track. Bear in mind that GPS’s that are designed for off-road cycling are fundamentally different from those we use on a roadway. Although serving the same functions, mountain biking GPS’s are designed to operate even in extreme outdoor conditions, such as heavy rain, thick fog, and even light snow.
So, on to the point. Depending on your budget, there are a lot of options – some are wireless, others have touchscreen capabilities, and others have more functions than your smartphone. The Garmin GPS bike computers are examples.
If you’re a novice, it’s a good idea to stick a rudimentary GPS (no touchscreen or other fancy functions). Another good idea is to look for a solid support for your device. These supports can be mounted on the central part of your handlebar. That’s a great position for quick peeks.
Mountain Bike Tour Essential no. 4: Food, Water, and Supplements
Because nothing beats eating a hearty meal hours of mountain biking, it’s a good idea to pack some food and supplements. As far as food is concerned, don’t weight yourself down with junk food or perishable foods. Here are some useful foods you could bring along:
- Apples – great sources of vitamins and water.
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – easy to make and pack, they can give you the boost you’ll need to brave the hill.
- Trail mix – an assortment of granola, dried fruit, nuts, and sometimes chocolate. A good trail mix is a great source of carbs and potassium. Salted nuts will also help you retain water during long bike rides.
- Canned tuna – an amazing source of proteins and great for long bike rides.
- Bananas – for potassium and vitamin C.
- Beef jerky – because it’s a food fit for a mountain king, and it’s also a source of protein and doesn’t spoil easily.
- Chocolate bars – a little pick-me-up for later, a good source of energy.
It is best to keep water in an aluminum water bottle rather than a plastic one, because metal maintains the water’s temperature even after a day of cycling in the scorching sun.
If you want to up your game a little, you can also try a few plant-based, all-natural supplements for the trail. Some of the most common are caffeine, whey protein, electrolytes, creatine, and beta-alanine. Remember – what you eat determines your performance, according to some nutritional research focused on mountain bike racers.
Mountain Bike Tour Essential no. 5: Mini pump, patch kits, and spare tubes
A multi-tool is not enough. Mountain biking can be unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to pack some essential tools. A mini pump will help you get some air in your wheels if your tires are feeling too soft. And a good patch kit is a must, because it’s not like there will be a tire repair shop in the wilderness.
It is also a good idea to carry at least two spare tubes, in case the patch kits fail.
Mountain Bike Tour Essential no. 6: Adequate Clothing and other accessories
For a day tour, be sure to dress lightly – a T-shirt and a pair of sweatpants or riding shorts would do. Also, consider packing some extra clothes, just in case you hit a puddle, or you’re extra sweaty. For a multi-day mountain bike tour, think carefully about what you will need for the days you are on your tour, and pack accordingly.
Don’t forget to bring your safety gear – a riding helmet, a pair of gloves, knee and elbow pads (but only if you’re comfortable wearing them).
Mountain Bike Tour Essential no. 7: First-aid Kit
It’s always important to have a first-aid kit handy, because you never know what might happen. Be sure to get a first-aid kit for cycling, and not one for cars or other sports. A good mountain biking first-aid kit should contain the following items:
- Medical tape – used for securing splinters or bandages;
- Safety pins;
- Sterile gauze;
- Band-aids – for cuts and blisters;
- Disinfectant – a bottle of medicinal alcohol or betadine;
- Sling – a medical device used for fractures and dislocations;
- Rubber gloves; and
These are the seven most essential things you should carry during your first mountain bike tour. Remember – the purpose is to have tons of fun, burn some calories, and enjoy the scenery from your saddle. However, you should always be prepared for the road ahead.
One last thing – don’t forget to double or triple-check your mountain bike before you hit the road!
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