I don’t think there is a person on this planet who doesn’t know of someone whose life was changed or taken by cancer. I’ve lost a dear colleague to cancer, friends I know have lost spouses to cancer, my daughter’s friend had cancer, my aunt had cancer, and even my mom had cancer. In many cases, early detection and treatment saved lives, but even with the best care cancer can win.
I want cancer to lose.
To help fight cancer, more research has to be done, and that’s where the Breakthrough Bike Challenge with the University of Pennsylvania comes in to raise money for Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center. You can help fight cancer by riding to raise funds for cancer research. You can register here if you want to help and raise money on your own:
When I first started riding, I knew I needed a helmet and a bike pump, but other than filling up my tires, I literally carried nothing else with me. That has certainly changed with what I keep in my saddle and downtube bags.
The necessities for basic mechanicals are pictured above for a standard road bike or tri bike. A spare tube is crucial for when you get a flat, but take it out of the packaging, coat it in baby powder, and wrap it in plastic wrap to make it easy to stash in your bag. The powder keeps the spare tube from sticking together in the heat (make sure the tube is the correct size for your bike). I do carry two CO2 cartridges just to have a spare, and I also have a valve to control the flow of CO2 into the tube.
When changing a flat, use the punctured tube to wrap around the CO2 cartridge because it’s going to get cold. In addition, I carry handlebar caps, a multi-tool, tire boot, and quick links. The tire boot is for a large hole in your tire and prevents the tube from poking through, which can cause another flat, and the quick links can be used for a broken chain to get you home.
If you ride a tubeless set-up, I recommend gloves or a rag, for the sealant that will inevitably leak out, and bacon strips to plug a hole in your tire. The bacon strips can be used for small punctures, but if the damage is too big, you’ll have to take the tire off, add a tube, and patch the hole before riding. Most of the time, a bacon strip and refilling the tire will do the job–one of the advantages to riding tubeless. I cut the strips in half since I have road tires– bacon strips were originally designed for knobby mountain bike tires.If you have disc brakes, use the spacer when you remove the wheel to keep the brake pads separate in case you accidentally squeeze the brakes.
Always do a bike safety check before your ride, and if you really want bonus points, make sure your lights are charged the night before. For those of you with electronic shifting, check to see that your bike is all charged up too.
For short rides, everything fits in my downtube bag, but for longer rides over two hours, I add another tube and carry a total of three CO2 cartridges along with plenty of snacks. Ride safely!
Comment below with your must-haves for your saddle bag.
One of the most important things you can do before any ride is a bike safety check. Many mechanical issues can be detected prior to heading out the door for that awesome ride. So, take a few moments, watch the video, and always do a bike safety check when you go to fill those tires.
Comment below with your favorite snacks and saddle bag items! I’m doing a post about what’s in your saddle bag next time.
A few of my athletes are racing some smaller triathlons that weren’t canceled in 2020, but transitions are always good to practice because transition time is free time.
Make sure your area is neat and organized at the wheel of your front bike tire and always rack your bike by the nose of the saddle. Take no more than a foot of space and use a bright towel to place your gear on. See the video for how to set up your stuff:
Walk through the transition area from the swim to your bike, from your bike on the rack to the “bike out”, from the “bike in” to your spot on the rack, and from the rack to the “run out”. Know where your gear is inside transition at all times.
Preview the courses whenever possible. Most bike courses are open to traffic, so knowing where road hazards and intersections are located is a good thing.
Study the swim course and know where you will start if it’s a mass or wave start, or where you will seed yourself if a few swimmers enter the water at a time.
Make sure all your gear is in good working order and that you get to transition early.
All of your nutrition for the bike should be placed on your bike when it’s racked.
Practice putting on your gear and taking it off. I like to tell athletes to get dressed from toes to head or head to toes so that nothing in forgotten.
That’s about it! I hope you enjoyed the video with the cheesy paneling and the view from the floor. I’m mostly off to the side, which is where I like to be.