The Routine – Preparing for a Ride

It occurred to me, as I was getting ready for a ride the other day, that a lot of preparation goes into a ride.  Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that men like the sport so much – it’s almost like putting on a uniform and preparing for battle!

Whatever the reason, however, I thought it might be helpful for new riders to share in a discussion of the steps necessary to prepare for a ride.  After doing it hundreds or even thousands of times it becomes second nature to the experienced cyclist.  But it’s not necessarily intuitive for the new rider!

So, here are my personal steps for a long ride, in general order of sequence.  Please feel free to comment on your own steps and/or anything I’ve forgotten…

  1. Get dressed (requires multiple sub steps)
    1. Sunscreen (summer mostly)
    2. Heart rate monitor
    3. Base layer (optional in the summer)
    4. Socks (you’re looking pretty weird at this stage)
    5. Knee/leg warmers and/or arm warmers if fall/winter (looking REALLY weird now!)
    6. Chamois cream (yes, it works)
    7. Bibs or shorts (I much prefer bibs – more on that soon)
    8. Jersey
    9. Jacket or shell (if it’s really cold and/or wet)
    10. Headband (summer) or ear protection band/hat (winter)
    11. (Gloves, shoes, helmet and sunglasses are later)
      1. knee/leg/arm warmers can be later too – sometimes you don’t know just how cold it’s going to feel out there until you actually get out there!
  2. Prepare the food and drinks (again, multiple sub steps)
    1. Add carbo powder and electrolytes to water bottles (2)
    2. Add ice and water, shake up
    3. Choose the gels and/or blocks for the ride (usually 1-3 gels, 1-2 blocks)
      1. One gel for every 45 min, one block for every 1.5 hrs
      2. Be careful to match flavors well!  ;-)
    4. Put food in left jersey pocket
      1. Some of my friends put them under their shorts on their thighs, which is very convenient, but slightly lumpy looking
      2. You may want to snip the blocks open with a scissors first – they are hard to open while riding (why haven’t these guys figured that out yet?!)
    5. Put water in travel bag (if driving to meeting spot) or on bike (if riding from home)
  3. Prepare the supplementary equipment
    1. Put a credit card and a few bucks in a plastic sandwich bag
      1. Cell phone and keys will go in there too – can be added later, but don’t forget!
      2. Print the map/cue sheet if you’re riding a planned group ride/event – put it in the baggie too.  It will be a sweaty mess otherwise!
    2. Put the baggie with all the stuff in it in your center jersey pocket
    3. Go find your bike computer/GPS – it’s probably connected to the home computer – and put it on your bike or in your travel bag
  4. Prepare the bike
    1. Install the bike computer/GPS and turn it on (if riding from home – otherwise leave on the bike/in the travel bag)
    2. Make sure the chain is clean and lubed
    3. Pump up the tires
    4. Check the brakes (did you remember to put the release lever back down after you changed the tire?)
    5. Make sure your flat repair kit is ready to go (did you replace the tube and CO2 cartridge after you changed the tire?)
  5. Load the bike on/in the car
    1. Don’t forget your travel bag
    2. Don’t forget to load helmet/gloves/shoes
    3. Drive to predetermined destination
  6. Put on the final clothing items (done at ride site or garage if riding from home)
    1. Shoes
    2. Headband/hat if you don’t have it on already
    3. Helmet (don’t forget to tighten the little wheel on the back)
    4. Sunglasses (even in winter – wear clear lenses for safety)
    5. Gloves
  7. Go ride!

Whew – that’s a lot of stuff when you write it down!  7 major steps with 32 sub-steps!  Seems intimidating at first, but it’s really not that bad.  For me it has become a routine – I hardly think about it anymore.  (And for shorter rides many of these steps are skipped!)

So, let me know if I’ve forgotten anything, and what you do differently!  And, most important, get out there and enjoy your ride!

Stolen from


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