Now you would think that after two decades of riding bikes, I’d have my shit sorted by now. You know, everything in the right place ready to go with minimal faff to make the most of those fleeting opportunities to ride. Well thats clearly not the case. The amount of procrastination, looking for lost gloves or the elusive hidden favourite gilet always eats into my riding time and now I have begun to regress and become useless again.
Thankfully my bikes are mostly always ready to go. This has been achieved by removing some moving parts (the gears and suspension forks) so there is less to go wrong and fits in with my no bike maintenance other than the essential lifestyle.
However if there is one thing learned the hard way, it is to make sure that you take everything you need with you to make it home again. Now I’m not talking about a huge backpack with everything possible crammed in. On one ride many moons ago, one of the riders had packed a spare pair of cranks just in case. Clearly that is ridiculous but thats not the first time this has been seen or heard of where someone goes to those extremes.
What I’m talking about are the core essentials; Allen keys, chain tool (very much needed on a singlespeed), decent mini pump, spare tube, some instant patches and a mobile phone. You can of course add to this with things like tubeless plugs, Co2 cartridges, first aid kits, machete, small squirrel etc. but I’d say these have their place rather than being the previously mentioned core.
So as mentioned before, I’ve regressed and this doesn’t always work out. Last night I thought I had packed those core items before heading to the mighty Stanmer Park for a ride. However I was using a fantastic brand new pair of Morvelo covert bid shorts, these have mesh pockets in the bibs for your riding essentials, and that meant a change to my routine. Normally I have a fancy pants Walmart (sorry I mean Rapha) pouch with everything in. But as I had these shorts, everything came out of that in to the lovely stretchy pockets and what wouldn’t fit into a saddle pack.
All sounding good so far eh? Well the first mistake was to change the status quo and so forgot to pack patches. No big deal really as that day I had converted my front tyre to tubeless so what could go wrong as I had a tube after all? Well that was the second mistake, NEVER trust a first time tubeless wheel without leaving it for about 7 months to see if it leaks. And that tube? Well it had so many holes in it, it might as well have been a sieve.
The trusty tubeless front wheel got me as far as Stanmer Park with only 3 stops to pump it up before it became clear the tube needed to go in. Now as we all know you never put a tube in without sticking a bit of air in it just to check for holes… nope I didn’t do that. Shoved it in, used my only Co2 Cartridge and it went up beautifully for about 3 seconds giving a glimmer of hope. But alas we know the tube was fucked so that didn’t last.
These days there are loads of great ways to keep us safe out on the trails, apps like STRAVA have a tracking option where you can send a link to a contact who can follow your ride. Others have automatic call functions should you have a crash. All I wanted to do was ring my girlfriend and ask her to bring a tube down for me (cheeky I know) but the biggest failure with all these apps can call functions is that they can’t mitigate for the person on the other end of the phone having it on silent. 10 calls later I gave up and sat under a tree with only two snails for company and turned to Facebook for help.
Facebook is great isn’t it! However a few sympathetic replies to my call for help including one from France didn’t offer any salvation. So it was time to make a plan. After all I was in THE riding spot of Brighton, surely there must be loads of riders out at 5pm on a rainy Sunday afternoon. And yes there was! A very happy looking rider was leaving Stanmer so I grovelled as asked if she had any patches I could use. Although she didn’t have any, a tube was offered. Aren’t we mountain bikers all so nice?
So thats it then right? Well no, fourth failure ahoy, I couldn’t find my decent mini pump when going so I took a really awful one found at the bottom of a drawer, this of course didn’t work so needed to borrow her pump too.
So there we have it, that long rambling story all leads towards the moral of the story: Make sure your girlfriend (or who ever is your saviour) doesn’t have their phone on silent. The rest is all part of riding and if you don’t mess up once or twice you haven’t lived. The end.