Wednesday, April 07, 2021

The B.O.G. Series: What Accessories You Should Consider

Repair tools are one accessory item you should consider.

 Welcome to the Basics of Gravel Series (B.O.G.)! In this series I will attempt to bring a very foundational knowledge of gravel and back road riding to anyone reading that may be curious or a beginner in riding off-pavement, but not wanting to be mountain biking. There will be a new entry every Wednesday until the series is complete. To see the schedule, click this LINK. Thanks! 

In today's article I want to touch upon a few things that you may want to have along for the ride on gravel, or in a rural area. There will be a lot of my regular readers that will have about twenty things to add to this list, but remember: This is geared toward the beginner/rookie to gravel. I'm keeping this very simple, very 'low-barrier', and as such, let's consider this a 'starter kit' that in time could be added to. So, these are bare essentials, to my way of thinking. 

So, breaking this down I have three simple categories: Food and Drink, Repair, and Fun/Useful Items. (Readers may quibble about my category names. Fine! Call it whatever you'd like. These names are functional) Okay, so as I see things, you need a way to be fueled, which we discussed previously, but you also need a way to carry the stuff. Let's take a look at that first. 

Example of a water bottle cage- a Velocity Bottle Trap in this instance.

Water is essential and the most traditional way to carry it is in a cycling style water bottle and a 'cage' to hold that bottle with. Your bicycle probably has one, hopefully two, and perhaps more water bottle bosses for this. If you have no mounts don't sweat it. You still have options. There are strap-on bottle cages from a couple of sources. But you also could go with a hydration pack, which could also carry other things as well, depending on what you get. 

Food is one of those 'other things' you could carry with a hydration pack, or you can go with a 'saddle bag' like this, or a top-tube mounted 'bento' style bag like this. Or, hey! Get both, and you'll have even more versatility. (And room for repair items!) The good thing about a decent set of bags is that you can move them from bike to bike, so they are something you can get years of use out of. 

Speaking of repair- You should invest in the tools to do your own flat tire repairs. There are complete "flat tire repair kits" available for bicycles, but you can piece one together as well. I am assuming tubed tires here, which is what most beginners will have. Okay? So, here's the short list of things to consider for your flat repair kit:

  1. Tire levers, like these
  2. A small pump, like this, or this, or this. Or you can do a CO2 type system, like this, but that is less environmentally friendly, so keep that in mind. 
  3. A rag to find foreign object with. 
  4. A spare tube, of course, in the size you require. 
  5. An air gauge, a pair of tweezers and a Sharpie (These are optional)

I'll explain #'s 3-5 next week, and how to use all of this kit. 

Additionally a well prepared cyclist will also carry some sort of multi-tool. There are about a million different kinds. A good, solid, simple one is good to get you started. Like this. You don't have to have a multi-tool, but it is going to end up in your bag if you keep at this at some point. Gravel and back road riding has a way of loosening up things you want tight. Like water bottle cages, so it is nice to be able to take care of that when necessary. 

I've used these locks for security and liked them.
Fun/Useful Things: Now there are some other things which can make your ride time a bit more enjoyable. many of these things cyclists will end up getting anyway, but keep in mind, you don't have to buy any of the following to ride on gravel. You just may want to add these items to make your riding more enjoyable and versatile. 

One thing a lot of folks like are cycling 'computers', which, when I think about that name, it is rather funny that we call these things 'computers'. Anyway, they can tell you how fast you are going, how fast you went at maximum, they can tell time, distances, and more. You can spend a little or a lot here. Basic computers are sub-50 bucks. Top-o-the-line Garmin GPS units can be hundreds of dollars. 

Cell phone holders are another product a lot of cyclists want, but be very careful here as gravel and back road riding can jar phones from many mounts meant for pavement riding. Make sure you are getting something that is very secure, or......just toss the phone in a bag. You could do without the distractions anyway, right? Just a thought.......

If you live in a wetter area, clip-on fenders or full-fenders are a great way to make it so you can keep riding without getting a 'skunk stripe', (the wet stripe up your backside from riding through a wet puddle or on a wet roadway)

A security system of some sort can be useful. If you have to stop at a convenience store, as an example, you may want to lock up your ride while you are inside. There are a ton of security locks out there, but I've used these before and they are easy to carry and use. It isn't the only option, so explore at your leisure.

I could go on, but those are some things that I feel are essentials. 

Next week: How To Repair A Flat Tire

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