There are no two items more important to carry on a ride than food and water. However, if you believe that preparation goes beyond survival we might suggest packing a pump and a tube, even if you are not skilled in flat tire repair it does not hurt to carry. Plenty of cyclists pride themselves on excellent etiquette and will slow their pace to check on a distressed rider on the side of the road. Having the correct inner tube and an inflation device can save you a long walk home in some very uncomfortable shoes. With that said we would like to make the following suggestions, you can call them the essentials:
- Specialized Air Tool Mini ($25) – This compact* offering from Specialized fits neatly into a jersey pocket, saddle bag, orcan be clamped next a water bottle cage. Available in two models for road and mountain bikes the sturdy aluminum pump is as reliable as it is sleek.
- Inner Tube ($7-10) – Patch kits are great, but can mean a lot of extra time spent off the bike in the middle of a ride. Fresh inner tubes don’t have an expiration date, so pack one under the seat and forget about it until it’s needed.
*Mechanic’s Tip: Small pumps are great because they’re light weight and pack away easily, but the short barrel does not provide much air per stroke. It is not uncommon to find oneself pumping up a flat tire for five or ten minutes. Not only is this an exhausting task, but as one becomes fatigued (and often frustrated) they will lose some grip on the pump head and tear the fragile Presta valve. This slip quickly negates all of your hard work, but it is simple to avoid. After locking the pump onto the valve place the back of the head against the corner of a curb. Now you can pump down, into the curb and the pressure with keep the whole assembly stable.