Touring Checklist: What to Bring on a Bike Tour Pt. 1

When planning what to bring on a bike tour, gear is not the least of your concerns. Luggage may not be as exciting as your choice of route or companions. However, preparing thoughtfully for your trip can make the difference between comfort and a grueling slog, or between a minor hiccup or a total breakdown. With our combined touring experience here at the shop, we’ve learned what works for us. It can be incredibly valuable to make a checklist in order to help prepare for your tour. Ultimately what you decide to bring will depend on the style and length of your trip, as well as your personal traveling preferences.

What to Bring on a Bike Tour

Riding Gear

The first decision to make is how much you are willing to “rough it”. If you will be biking from hotel to hotel and eating in restaurants, a credit card will be your most important piece of equipment. If you’re riding farther afield and camping, you’ll need carry everything you’ll need. Keep things you’ll need during your ride in smaller bags or in jersey pockets. Otherwise you’ll be digging through your panniers looking for your squished banana.

  • Water bottles: 2-3 can be mounted on your bike. Crushable bottles like Platypus are good for extra water storage if you’ll be riding long stretches between water sources.
  • Sunscreen
  • Money and Identification (I like to keep it in a small plastic bag in my jersey pocket)
  • Phone, charger, and any foreign sim cards or solar panels you may need to make it work
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Toiletries (still important to brush teeth on a bike tour!)
  • Any other comfort items (like chamois butter)
Bike tour riding gear

And last but certainly not least…

Tools

Unless you are doing a supported ride with a follow car to pick you up, you’ll need to be self-reliant. At the minimum, you will need to be able to fix flat tires and tighten/loosen all bolts on your bike. If riding with others, you will probably only need one set of tools between you, with the exception of tubes.

  • Spare tubes: 2 or more(make sure they are the correct size for your tires, especially if you have different tire sizes)
  • Tire Levers: 2 or 3
  • Patch kit
  • Mini pump (we reccomend Topeak Morph pumps)
  • Set of hex keys, in a multi-tool or separate (check every bolt on your bike to make sure you have a tool that fits it)
  • Lock (U locks are the most secure, but heavy. If you’ll mostly be stopping in rural areas or are riding in a group, a cable lock will probably suffice.)
Bike tour tools

For longer or more remote riding, consider bringing extra tools. Hopefully you won’t need them often, or at all, but the little extra weight can pay off when stranded in the middle of nowhere.

  • Extra spokes: at least one per wheel (each wheel side requires a different spoke length, so make sure you have the correct lengths!
  • Spoke wrench (also wheel-specific)
  • Chain breaker (included in some multi-tools)
  • Spare tire (foldable tires are much easier to carry)
  • Duct tape (I like to wrap it around my water bottle so I don’t need to bring the whole roll, but you could use your seatpost or anything else)
  • Small bottle of bike lubricant
  • Lights, especially if you’re not riding during summer
  • More general tools like pliers, knife, screwdrivers, etc. – a lightweight multi-tool is a great way to get most of these functions in one small package.
  • Cable Ties – For some of our staff, cable ties are the new Duct tape, and very useful in a pinch!

What else?

Is this all I should bring on my bike tour? No… But, these are just the most bike-specific things you’ll need to pack. You’ll find our checklist for other supplies including camping gear, clothing, and more in our soon to come post Touring Checklist: What to Bring on a Bike Tour Pt. 2.

Bike Food Part 1 : How to Make Your Ride Delicious

If you’ve ridden a bike much, you may have noticed there are few kitchens on the side of the road. You also may have noticed you are hungry. You are not alone. But with a some preparation, a positive spirit and burritos, you’ll find there is bike food out there suitable for all cyclists.

Bike Food

I always carry at least a granola bar in my saddle bag. “Bonking,” or running out of energy on a bike ride, is at best an avoidable bummer. At worst, it can be a health hazard, especially if you are far from civilization or riding in cold weather. Fueling your ride can be either a chore or a delicious picnic. It’s easy to find a place to get food in a city like Portland where food trucks are around every corner! But when traveling longer distances, a little planning and attitude makes all the difference.

Your body does require more calories and electrolytes while exercising, but don’t be intimidated by sports food marketing. “Electrolytes” is basically just another way to say “salt”. Calories and electrolytes exist in literally all food. This is what makes it food. Over my experience on longer rides and tours, I’ve found a few favorite foods that fit well in a jersey pocket or saddle bag and add to the pleasure of riding a bike. Then again, everything tastes better after a long bike ride.

Burrito!

A perfect pocket-sized sandwich. I used to have a shirt that said “53 miles per burrito,” which is pretty accurate. The real advantage of this food is the near ubiquity of taco trucks in some parts.  Many times have I been saved from hunger by some middle-of-nowhere taqueria. Remember to bring some cash when you ride, if you dream of burritos.

Trail Mix!

I guess on a bike it would technically be a “road mix,” but the principle remains the same. You can make it as fancy or cheap as you’d like, but I like to buy a bunch of ingredients in bulk and mix them into bags to take with me. Here is a rough recipe I like:

  • 2 parts peanuts
  • 1 part mini pretzels
  • 2 parts dried fruit (like cranberries or raisins)
  • 1 part banana chips
  • 1 part something exciting like chocolate chips

Harmonious Pairs

Snacks don’t have to be complex. Some of the most satisfying road foods I kept going back to were pairs of things that go together. This is partly because its easier to find just two things at a random convenience store in the middle of nowhere. But also you don’t want to spend all your time planning food when you could be riding. Here are a few of the pairs I kept going back to on longer rides:Apple and Nut ButterHummus and chips

  • Apple and Nut Butter
  • Carrots/Chips and Hummus
  • Avocado and Tortillas
  • Banana and Granola
  • Burritos and Burritos

Beverage

Water is the best beverage, but sometimes you want something else. You can get fancy powders that magic your water into a smoothie or a sports drink. I prefer to use a little lemon juice or hibiscus mixed with honey, or even coconut water. On long trips with friends, I like to hide a bottle of beer in my pannier. When you arrive at your destination everyone is tired, but a little surprise at the end can turn “ugh, what a ride…” into “wow, what a ride!”

Bike food is important for the mind, body and spirit. As important as it is to take care of your bike, it’s probably more important to take care of yourself! Put the right things in your body and you’ll get the best out of your bike and yourself! Stay tuned for more bike food tips in part 2 and part 3.

Keep Hope Alive in Winter: Plan Your Next Tour

If you moved to Portland a few months ago, you may have thought you were moving to a land of eternal summer. Just look at all the yards growing banana plants and the abundance of patio seating! Now that the weight of your misunderstanding is sinking in, you may be looking for ways to keep  hope alive through the long drizzle season. A cyclist does not run on burritos alone, after all. Here we will encourage you through the winter time by planning for your next tour.

Banana Plant

Step 1: Believe Summer Will Return

Don’t get your head in the clouds, summer doesn’t have clouds. Instead, spend your indoor-time dreaming of all the bike tours you will embark on next year. Weekend tours can be planned fairly spur of the moment.  Maybe a jaunt to L.L.Stub Steward State Park (The Banks-Veronia Trail goes straight through it)? Or perhaps a loop around the Columbia Gorge (Ainsworth State Park has a spacious bike-camping field)? Longer tours might require a winter of planning.

I did not plan much for my tour into California. While it mostly worked out in the end, you might benefit from spending your pent-up energy planning more obsessively than I did. I left Olympia, WA with no destination except “South.” I took the carbon road bike I raced in college, since that was the only bike I had. As I pulled into the campground I intended to stay on the first evening of my tour, I went over a speed bump and my rack fell off. Don’t try to tour with a carbon seatpost and a clamp-on rack! I was then told the campground was closed. So I carried all my gear on my head while I looked for a bridge to sleep under until it was light enough to hitchhike to the nearest town. The next day I bought an aluminum seatpost.

So Plan Your Tour

You can spend a whole winter deciding on a destination, but the journey itself is really the important part. Highway 101 is an ideal touring route. It has abundant views, quaint seaside towns and world-class parks. Some 800 miles later, I ended up in Yolo County in a town of about 150 people. I spent the winter on a family farm/goat dairy and eating the most delicious oranges and pomegranates I ever had.

Welcome to Yolo

If you’d like some help dreaming up your next bike tour, why not stop by the shop for some tea? From our combined wealth of experience, we can suggest routes through the San Juan Islands, Glacier National Park, across India, and beyond. You might just keep the drizzle from seeping into your spleen (well known organ of hope).

 

Coming next: “Step 2: Actually Prepare for Winter.”

New Portland Guide Book – Featuring Cycle PDX!

Cycle Portland featured again! – in Portland Family Adventures! Looking for a handy guide book to find your way around Portland? Jen Stevenson’s Portland Family Adventures is the perfect companion for traveling families looking for museums, hikes, tours, and more. With all the guides and recommendations available for visiting Portland, it’s hard to figure out which ones have done the research and exploration necessary to really know our multi-layered city. Stevenson has clearly done that hard work. You can trust her recommendations to steer you to the very best family friendly attractions and activities!

 

Our city tours are another great way to get your bearings and see some of the businesses, monuments, and neighborhoods that make Portland so special. Our guides are always happy to answer questions and give you their advice on their favorite spots around town. You can set up a reservation anytime on our website, or give us a call at 844-PDX-BIKE (844-739-2453) if you have any questions!

“What to do in Portland,” put Cycle Portland Bike Tours and Rental on your list!

Here at Cycle Portland, we love to share a local’s perspective with Portland’s visitors. But even more than that, we love to get people on bikes and out riding! Laura Chubb’s article, “What to do in Portland, From Microbreweries to Third Wave Coffee,” covers all of your Portland essentials. From taking a bike tour around downtown, to window shopping, to the food cart scene, Laura’s list featured on the Independent is an excellent place to start when planning your trip to the Pacific Northwest!

Cycle Portland Bike Tours & Rentals specializes in putting together fun, creative rides that are great for people looking to explore Portland, OR by bike!

Sign up for Laura’s Essential Portland Tour here! Happy riding!

Highlights from an afternoon with the NZ Herald

Shandelle Battersby crossed the dateline and the equator back in August to experience the best that summer in Portland has to offer.

We occasionally take it all for granted out here in the Upper Left–plenty of hoppy beers, ideal cycling environment, and beautiful scenery. Shandelle Battersby from the NZ Herald came to visit Cycle Portland this summer to bring the good news back to the lands down under. After signing on to our 2pm Brews Cruise, the group set out to explore some of the exquisite beer culture that peppers the different neighborhoods on the east side of the river.  Read about her time on a typical brewery tour and check out the list of our favorite breweries to explore on your own while visiting Portland! Just swing by our shop to pick up a bike for the best way to explore town.

“On a sunny Sunday afternoon in mid-August, the 35C+ temperatures of the past few days have eased slightly and our group of four — me, two girls from California, and Guthrie Straw, our affable and knowledgeable guide — set out from Cycle Portland’s Old Town HQ for the shadier eastern side of the river.”

“I think these Portlanders might really be on to something with this beer and bicycling thing …”

Brews Cruise
Brews Cruise Guests

Foodie Field Trip: Chicken & Guns Guest Post

a visual pun of chicks with guns
image by Duncan Bayne

Portland is known for many things, Rain, Beer, Bridges to name a few, and most people who come to visit us in Portland know that our food carts (of which we have over 500) are another thing that puts us on the map, so to speak.  During our Foodie Field Trip tour, we visit one of our better know Food Cart Pods, Cartopia in which you will find an amazing treat- Chicken and Guns!  This award-winning food cart specializes in Latin spiced chicken, served with either their crispy potatoes or a farm fresh vegetable salad year-round in generous portions.Without further ado, here’s their guest blog post, along with a couple of photos to get your mouth watering!

chicken and guns store front with firepitChicken and Guns opened in Cartopia in June of 2015 with the goal of introducing Portland to our brand of smokey and spicy Latin American style chicken. We were influenced by dishes we found in Peru, Mexico, and Argentina and we wanted to bring these flavors along with a strong commitment to using only fresh local products and a unique aesthetic as well. We imagined it to be more of a tiny restaurant than a typical food cart. We built the cart out of reclaimed barn wood, recycled materials and installed a large wood bar and seating out front so that people could sit at the counter and see all the magic happen. Cycle Portland has been a great supporter of ours from the very beginning and we cant thank them enough for continuing to bring new guests to try us out.”

 

Our stop at Cartopia is the second of three stops we make during our Foodie Field Trip.  If you would like to know more about this Tour or any of the other tours we lead, visit our home page for more information.

Bon Appétit!