safety

Prepared For Anything: What You Need In Your Flat Kit

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With more riders putting in longer rides to prepare for the Traverse City Trails Festival, we take a look at what we bring in our flat kits.

This past weekend, we had dozens of riders out on the 40 and 25 mile Traverse City Trails Festival looking to get ready for July 20. Putting in big miles deep in the woods is fun, freeing, and a chance to explore trails that they may never have experienced before! The whole point of the TCTF is to encourage riders to take new turns, try new routes, and start to piece together more of the sixty miles of unmarked trails in the Pere Marquette Forest.

Taking on those remote trails does require a bit more forethought, however. As we rolled out for Saturday’s pre-ride, we noticed a a bit of a new set-up from the more experienced riders, and we thought it might be a good idea to share what riders bring for a three, four, or five hour ride in the woods.

The first thing we noticed plenty of riders grab is a hydration pack. They’re really handy to have for three big reasons. First, it’s much easier to drink with the tube while flying through singletrack than trying to reach down, grab a bottle, drink, and get the bottle back in the cage. Second, you can bring just about as much water as you’d ever need for a ride in the back. Many riders will run straight water in their pack and have a isotonic or sports drink in their bottle, often with more calories. Third, it’s another place to store the extra snacks you’ll want for such a long day in the woods. Being able to quickly and easily get to both food and water is a great way to avoid the dreaded bonk and prevent dehydration or heat stroke!

That extra storage also means you have plenty of room to bring the right tools and supplies you need to fix a mechanical issue even if disaster strikes on the most remote part of the course. Even when riding in a group, bringing tools, tubes, and even first aid is a really good idea.

  1. Tube and Air. Tubeless or not, bringing a spare tube and a way to re-inflate is elemental is riding safe. We recommend bringing at least one tube and a way to inflate it after a flat, whether it’s with a pump or a CO2. For rides like the TCTF recon, it’s worth bringing a second cartridge, just in case. A patch or two can also come in handy!

  2. A multi-tool. A 12 or 16 function multi tool can get you out of a lot of jams. A set of Allen keys can do everything from tighten a loose seat clamp to adjust your brakes.

  3. Chain breaker. A chain tool is a must for big days in the woods. In case of a broken chain, having a way to break a chain and use a quick link gives you a way to avoid a really, really long walk. Like a lot of these tools, it’s okay if you haven’t used them before or aren’t sure you can use it. If you have it, someone you’re riding with will almost certainly be able to help.

  4. Quick link. Always bring one. If you do break a chain, having a quick link will let you either fix the chain as good as new, or at least allow you to turn your geared bike into a singlespeed. Some people bring an 11 and 12 speed link, in case a buddy breaks down; just make sure you know which is which!

  5. Cell phone. The ultimate fix. Even if you don’t have service everywhere, you’ll be able to get to points in the forest with full bars. If you can’t make a repair, you’ll be able to call a friend and direct them to a safe place to get out of the woods. Phones are also a great way to allow friends and family to follow your progress and even get alerts in case of a crash or incident. Features like Beacon from Strava are a nice feature to improve your chances of getting out of the woods without calling Search and Rescue. If you use a GPS unit like Garmin or Wahoo, check with those companies to learn how to set up confidential live tracking features.

  6. EPI Pen and Bandages. First aid often gets overlooked, but bringing some basics is never a bad idea. Stuff a few bandages in your flat kit in case of light cuts and scrapped knees. We’ve even seen Band Aids pressed into service as patches! Zip-ties, tweezers, and gauze aren’t a bad idea, if you can find the space. If you’re allergic to bees, make sure you have your EPI pen with you; don’t put other trail users in a bad position by be unprepared. Plus, you may be able to use the EPI pen on someone who doesn’t know they’re allergic! With temperatures on the rise, bees are more and more active, and many hives are on the ground and may be disturbed by riders in more remote areas.

Be prepared keeps the rides fun. If you can bring it, bring it; you never know whose day you’ll save by having the right tools on hand.