Dr. Daf’s Guide – Spares to Carry on Carten100

In this guide, I want to discuss not only the spares that you should be considering to carry during the ride, but what you can do before the ride to make the chances of a mechanical less likely, and get yourself in a position to fix common problems.

Introduction – Before the ride

So let’s remind ourselves of Item 1 of the Rider’s briefing:

  • Participants will be responsible for the road worthiness and safe working order of their own bike. Please ensure your brakes are in good working order, and that you have the tools and spares necessary to affect minor roadside repairs to your bike.

The best way to not have to find any of your tools or spare tubes during the ride is to have the various components of your bike in tip-top condition before the ride. We know that our friends in Tredz have a mountain of services to do in the run up to Carten which is a good sign that people are preparing well. Whilst you can’t guarantee a mechanical-free ride, a service will ensure major problems are resolved, and that wheels, brakes, gears are in good working order. I personally put new tyres on my bikes for “special” events to lessen the chances of punctures too.

Do I need to be a qualified bike mechanic?

If you have a well maintained bike, then by far the most common mechanical problem you will face on the Carten100 is a puncture. I would expect every rider to be able to fix a puncture. If you can’t, find a friend to show you, or if you have no friends, watch a youtube video and practice. If you are proficient at changing an inner tube it can make the difference between a routine 10 minute stop when you get some rest to an ordeal.

Issues you can have otherwise are myriad, and in my experience, rare if your bike is well maintained. If you do have an issue then with the ride being well supported and running through well populated areas, it’s unlikely that a fellow rider, support van or mechanic can’t get you going.

Saddle bag or jersey pocket?

Most riders tend to put their spares in a saddle bag under the saddle. There are some who use their jersey pockets and some who use the bottle cage to carry a bottle shaped spares container. It is a question of taste. I read an article some years ago suggesting that I wouldn’t want to be performing kidney surgery on myself if I fell off with a multitool in my jersey pocket, and tend to only carry soft things in my pockets.

Spares to carry

For a ride like the Carten100, I think a responsible set of spares to take (including the ability to use them) would be:

  • 2 inner tubes
  • 3 tyre levers (less if you are a maestro at their use)
  • Puncture repair kit or patches in case you get very unlucky
  • Pump or gas canisters – A matter of preference. I prefer the guarantee of continuous air from the manual effort with pumps
  • Tyre boot – A piece of old tyre approx. 6 inches long with the beads cut off – Could help keep you going if you have a nasty tyre split, and takes up very little space in your bag
  • Multi-tool – Depending on your ability at bike mechanics, it could be a simple one for obvious loosening and tightening (saddle, bars, brakes) or more complex (gears, wheel repairs, snapped chains)

I would say that’s about it for essentials. There are a myriad of opinions on what to take, and whist we don’t have a 1:1 ratio of vans to riders, the fact that you are riding with 2000+ other riders, with a number of support vans through a number of urban areas with bike shops and railway stations, the chances of not getting fixed by a friendly fellow rider, a bike shop or by the support crew is remote.

If you are a “traditional” long distance cyclist, or a doom monger, then the list of spares could be expanded to include:

  • Cable ties
  • Gorilla tape
  • Chain lube
  • Spare tyre
  • Chain tool and spare chain links
  • Spoke key and spare spokes (typically taped to seat stays)
  • Gear cables
  • Brake cables
  • Brake pads
  • Grease
  • Espresso Maker

I hope this article has been helpful in either giving the newbies some good advice for the ride, or providing the veterans some reinforcement that they are doing the right thing!

How you can help!

CARTEN100 has two main objectives, to set an achievable challenge for novice riders to encourage them to become fit and enjoy cycling, and to raise money for good causes – in 2018 we celebrated a million pounds raised. If you'd like to learn more about sponsoring our annual event and the amounts we have raised for charity each year so far, please get in touch!

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