Saddle bag essentials

Saddle bag essentials

In the last article I talked you through how to perform a pre-ride safety check. Prevention is the key, and taking 3-5 min before the start of each ride to inspect your bicycle could save you from running into issues out on a ride.

With that said, punctures and mechanical problems are part of cycling and at some point you’re going to experience a flat tire, dropped chain, poor shifting or a loose bottle cage. It doesn’t matter how well you maintain your bicycle - little issues are unavoidable. This doesn’t have to be a negative experience if you’re prepared. To make sure I’m prepared to deal with multiple punctures and small mechanical issues I carry the following items with me every time I set out for a ride.

Saddle bag - A saddle bag is designed to sit neatly under your saddle. They come in a wide range of sizes and styles and can be purchased from almost any bike shop. They are really useful for carrying tools and spares that are commonly needed to fix issues you might experience while out riding.

Tire Levers- A pair of tires levers are essential for efficiently getting a tire off the rim. The added leverage they provide makes dealing with a puncture quick and easy.

Inner Tubes - The occasional puncture is unavoidable. Always carry a spare tube or two for extra security. It’s nice to have a backup tube in case you're having a really unlucky ride. This also goes for people running a tubeless set up: carrying a spare tube can get you home if you’re unlucky enough to get a puncture that won’t seal.

Hand Pump - A hand pump is not going to fit in your saddle bag but typically will be kept in your jersey pocket or attached to the frame of your bike. It’s an essential tool for fixing a flat tire and should be carried with you on every ride.

Multi-tool - Mechanicals, loose bottle cages, creaking components and loose shoe cleats can happen on any ride. Some disc-brake bikes even require a multi-tool to remove the wheels. Keep a multi-tool in your saddle bag so you can fix these little issues as they pop up.

Small Chain tool- If you clean your drivetrain regularly, the chance of having an issue with your chain on a road ride is very low. But it can happen and when it does, you will thank yourself for keeping a small chain tool in your saddle bag. A chain tool is used to break the chain, so you can take out the broken links and put the chain back together with a quick link.

Quick link - It’s not very likely that you will snap a chain during a road ride. But a quick link is a small item that could prove handy in the event of a broken chain.

Patch Kit - The side of the road is not an ideal place to be patching up inner tubes but you might be having a particularly disastrous day and you run out of spare tubes. A good plan C is to carry a small compact self adhesive patch kit with you to get you out of a pinch.

Credit Card and Phone - Last on my list is your phone and some money or credit card. Keep them in your jersey pocket just in case everything else fails and you need to call for help.

The most common issue you're likely to experience is a flat tire. If you haven’t had to fix a flat before it’s probably worth spending some time getting comfortable with how to do that. Below is a description of the steps you need to take.

  1. With any road side issue you want to get off the road. Look for a safe spot away from the roadside where you don’t have to worry about car traffic
  2. Start by removing the wheel with the flat tire from the bike. If it’s your back wheel, shift the chain into the smallest cog on the cassette before removing the wheel.
  3. Get your tire levers out and find the opposite end of the wheel from the valve. Insert one tire lever under the bead of the tire and then insert the second tire lever in another spot about 12-15 centimeters away from the first.
  4. Use the leverage from the tire levers to pop the bead of the tire over the rim. Here you should have enough slack to pull one side of the tire off the rim. If you have a stubborn tire, you may need to work the bead out of the rim by running one lever around the rim pushing the bead over the edge of the rim.
  5. Find the valve and remove the old tube from the wheel.
  6. Check the inside of your tire for any sharp bits like thorns, glass or small rocks by running your fingers along the inside of the tire. If you feel anything sharp you will need to remove it before putting a new inner tube in the wheel
  7. If all is good insert a new inner tube and refit the tire as much as you can with your hands. Start at the valve placing the bead of the tire inside the rim and using a hand on each side of the wheel, work your way around the rim tucking the bead into the rim. When it gets too hard for hands use a tire lever to carefully push the bead over the rim.
  8. When the tire is on, go around the wheel once checking that the tube is not stuck between the rim and the tire bead. If the tire is not seated properly in the rim it could burst your tube when you try to inflate the tire.
  9. Inflate the tire with your pump or CO2 cartridge.
  10. Put the wheel back on the bike. If it’s your rear wheel you should lift the back wheel off the ground and spin the pedals with your hands to make sure the chain is on the proper cog before continuing with your ride.

The Training Plan

See below for more details about Easy Day and Hard Day routines.

WEEK 11

Monday - Easy day

  • 90-200 min continuous moderate exercise.

Tuesday - Rest day

  • Complete rest or do something easy 20-60 min walk

Wednesday - Easy day

  • 90-200 min continuous moderate exercise.

Thursday - Rest day

  • Complete rest or make an easy 20-60 min walk

Friday - Easy day

  • 90-200 min continuous moderate exercise.

Saturday - Long day

  • 150-210 min continuous moderate exercise

Sunday - Rest day

  • Complete rest or make an easy 20-60 min walk

WEEK 12

Monday - Easy day 

  • 90-120 min continuous moderate exercise.

Tuesday - Hard day

  • 3-4 x 8 min or 3 x 16 min

Wednesday - Easy day

  • 90-120 min continuous moderate exercise.

Thursday - Rest day

  • Complete rest or make an easy 20-60 min walk

Friday - Easy day

  • 60-90 min continuous easy exercise.

Saturday - Long day

  • 180-240 min continuous moderate exercise with self selected cadence

Sunday - Hard day

  • Session 1: 20-30 min strength training.
  • Session 2: 3-4 x 8 min or 3 x 16 min

The Training Sessions

Easy (marked with green color)

During these easy sessions try to maintain an average cadence of 90-110 rpm throughout the session. If a session is over 2 hours in duration add between 4-6 max cadence sprints that last between 10-30 seconds during the last hour.

These rides are calm, they feel easy (2-3 out of 10 RPE) , breathing should be comfortable and you should be able to speak in full sentences. 60-70% of HRmax which should be low to middle of your zone 2 power.

Long (marked with green color)

During these long sessions you can keep a self selected cadence. It’s important to start a bit easier because as you extend the duration past a certain point fatigue will start to set in and heart rate and perceived exertion (RPE) will gradually rise. With long rides you’re looking to reach that point where the easy ride starts to feel somewhat hard. (1-3 out of 10 RPE) or heart rate zones 1-2. I don’t recommend using power for this type of training.

Hard - Interval Training (marked with orange color)

In the second week we enter the transition phase where the goal is to improve your performance at threshold. I will give you two sessions and you may decide which one you prefer to do.

The first session starts with a 20-30 minute warm up followed by 3-4 x 8 min with 2-8 min rest between efforts. Try to start the next pull as soon as you have the feeling that you are able to endure another one. Warm down 20-30 minutes.

The second option starts with a 20 min warm up and is followed by 3 x 16 min with 10 min rest between pulls. Keep a high cadence (95-110 rpm) Warm down 20-30 minutes.

The way I like to prescribe these efforts is to keep the highest average intensity you can maintain for the entire session. I would estimate this to be around 80-90% of HR max or an effort that feels like 7 out of 10. This kind of effort will bring on heavy breathing, only able to respond in short responses but after the effort you should feel okay and that you could make another one. So these are not maximum efforts. This ride could also be replaced with a group ride.

Hard Days - Strength Training (marked with orange color)

Core and body conditioning will make you a more robust rider and strength training has been used to increase both short and long duration endurance capacity. If you’re new to strength training give this session a try or use a routine that you're familiar with and enjoy doing.

Warm Up - Dynamic Stretching 6 exercises 1 set 8 reps

  1. Prisoner Stand Ups
  2. Down Dog with Toe Touch
  3. Cat-Camels
  4. Kneeling thoracic rotations
  5. Down Dog to Runner's Lunge
  6. Glute Raises-Fire Hydrants

Block A Strength Training: 3 exercises 2 sets 6-10 reps (each side)

  1. DB Romanian Deadlift
  2. Sumo Squat
  3. Calf Raises

Block B Strength Training: 3 exercises 2 set 6-10 reps (each side)

  1. Glute Bridge Floor Press
  2. DB Good mornings
  3. Lat pull with band or DB

Block C Core Training 3 exercises 2 set 6-10 reps (each side) 

  1. Front Plank
  2. Copenhagans
  3. Superman core

All the movements for this strength training session can be found here:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkkzmpRneOpTAnC8x7_-xNaRePO6sg5lu