What do I pack?!
Beyond all the riding and fundraising, the Empire State Ride is a week-long outdoor adventure. While you will have a packing list with clothing/gear needed, there are a few extras that any timeworn traveler will tell you are “must haves.” They won’t take up much room, and they just may make your week a bit more comfortable.
Do you remember our previous blogs about fueling for rides? While the Empire State Ride will have stops and drink and food, be sure that, if you have not used the products they are offering, you bring your own gels, bars, or hydration mix. Different products feature different types of sweeteners, and if your stomach is not accustomed to them, you may be end up on the sag wagon with stomach cramps.
Even though showers await you at the end of a long day, body wipes are a lifesaver for lunch stops and those moments when you just feel too grimy, especially if it rains during the ride. Buy small single packs and carry one in your jersey pocket.
You’ll want to be able to navigate to the bathrooms or campfire when the sun goes down, and while a flashlight works fine, there is nothing easier than a headlamp to keep you mobile and hands-free.
While most riders will probably want to hit the sack fairly early, if you are a consummate night owl, you may wish to bring something to keep you busy before you fall asleep. While reading on your phone works, the light disrupts sleeping patterns, and you’ll run your battery dry. Opt for a short, fun novel you’ve been wanting to read or do what fast-packers often do; tear a few chapters from the spine to minimize weight. In lieu of a book, bring some paper and keep a ride journal!
Don’t rely on the generosity of other riders if you run low on chamois cream; be sure you have enough for the entire week. There is almost nothing more uncomfortable than trying a new cream during a ride, especially if the viscosity or ingredients are different than what your skin is used to.
Spare tube, CO2, tire levers, and “know-how”
At the very least, you should know how to change a flat tube on your bike. Even though there is a sag wagon, there are quite a few people riding the ESR and you should be prepared to be a little self-sufficient. If you are unsure of how to change one, get a quick lesson from your local bike shop or your peers. Trust me, it will save you and your teammates headaches on the ride. While you might think that it’s a skill you don’t need, more experienced riders cringe when they have to repeatedly help change tubes.
Because you will be on your bike longer than usual, be sure to bring a small kit to help alleviate hotspots and blisters on your feet. Moleskin is the ideal choice for this task. Additionally, be sure to wear cycling-specific socks. These are designed to fit to your feet and minimize wrinkles and bunching which can catch and pinch skin.
Barring rainstorms, you’ll be in the sun for hours at a time. Bring sufficient sunscreen to apply each morning. Additionally, if you sweat a lot or burn easily, place a small tube in your jersey pocket for on-the-go application.
Whether you wear daily or extended wear contacts, be sure to bring a few extras. Riding can lead to dry eyes, and you may lose one along the way. On that same vein, it’s always a good idea to carry eye drops, and don’t forget your glasses!
It’s always a good idea to have extra tissue (facial or toilet) with you. You never know when you’ll need it.
With these quick add-ons, you’ll be fully prepared to enjoy the ride of a lifetime.