I'm planning to ride my first century sportive later this summer and am wondering what I should carry along on the ride, and how I should carry it. It's clear to me from my training rides that regardless of how frequently rest stops are available, I'll need to cary food for most of the ride, and at least some water. And since the ride spans the good part of a day, I expect that an additional layer of clothing might be needed, and of course tools, passport, and phone.

Am I being unreasonable in expecting to carry this on the ride? How do people cary what they bring?

  • How long is the ride you're doing? How frequent are the rest stops? 100 mile ride, 3 food stops and 8 water-only stops? – freiheit May 31 '13 at 18:54
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    It really depends on the event. Many events include food and water so you only have to bring a single water bottle and remember to fill it as necessary. Some events provide nothing and you are expected to provide your own food and water. – Kibbee May 31 '13 at 18:58
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    Yeah, on my last ride they messed up the food deliveries, so there was no food. So I get what you're saying. Even when they say there will be food/water, don't expect that it will be there, always bring a little bit with you. – Kibbee May 31 '13 at 19:22
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    @NeilFein I'm not so sure about that. It actually seems fairly constructive to me. Each answer is a list rather than the answers collectively forming a list, the answers aren't subjective, and the question offers a real problem to be solved and isn't too localized. My vote is leave open. – jimchristie Jun 7 '13 at 17:01
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    @jimirings: Agreed. We've got to stop this obsession with shutting down things that seem even remotely list-like. Somehow the other SEs have a lot less trouble with this. – orome Jun 7 '13 at 17:05

I've ridden many sportives at this distance in the UK and here is my experience.

Looking at the route map there are 3 food stops and 11 water stops so you don't need to carry loads with you. I'd say a 750ml bottle will do. If you find you drink a lot on your training rides then take a second bottle.

Food will be available at the stops but you should take some food with you. Find out what's going to be on offer (its usually bananas, jaffa cakes and cereal bars) and bring something different. I tend to buy a tub/box of bite-size flapjack pieces from the supermarket and stuff about a dozen or so in a jersey pocket (can have unpleasant effects if its really wet).

A basic multi tool for adjustments while riding is useful.

Two inner tubes and a set of tyre levers. Small pump. If you get a puncture then just swap the tubes and pump with enough air to get you to the next service spot, where there will be a floor pump for you to attain proper pressure. I never bother with a puncture repair kit.

Unless you are confident about the weather I'd take a small waterproof. It needs to be one of the small, lightweight ones so it can fit in a jersey pocket.

Other stuff

  • keys (if you have a huge keyring with lots of keys, take off the ones you need)
  • mobile phone
  • a £20 note
  • I generally don't take a wallet
  • I definitely wouldn't be carrying my passport
  • small tube of sun cream
  • tools, keys and spares go in a little bag under the saddle, like this; other stuff in jersey pockets


  • Use at least one or two food stops or you'll run out of energy
  • if its sunny, reapply sun cream when you stop
  • have fun, I'm envious as I didn't get through the ballot
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    Why no passport? Do you recommend ID at all? Personally, I don't go anywhere without ID. When I'm riding, I fold up and paper clip a $20 bill to it. – jimchristie Jun 7 '13 at 17:11
  • Why would you take your passport? Why would you take ID? There's no need. He'll have a rider number to identify him to the organisers. – Qwerky Jun 24 '13 at 9:47
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    We take our passports because we have to cross the Canadian border :) – Ritch Melton Aug 12 '13 at 16:21
  • Some sort of ID seems worthwhile, if nothing else so that you can be identified easily if you happen to crash and are knocked unconscious. I normally carry a debit card on any ride, which works as ID. – bdsl Jan 31 '16 at 11:52

I carry:

  • Two water bottles (on accelerade, one Nuun)
  • Tail wedge, with multi-tool, patch kit, tire levers, spare tube, CO2 inflator, emergency food (sport beans), wallet, keys.
  • Bento box with cell phone, drugs (salt tablets, ibuprofen, sinus)
  • Pump mounted on one water bottle cage.
  • jersey pockets with powdered accelerate, Nuun tablets, real food.

I'll typically go a couple of hours between stops. I like to have enough food so I don't have to depend on food stops for anything (assuming it's an organized ride).

I try not to carry too much clothing; I'd rather be a little cold at the start than carry a lot of extra clothing. I may wear a thin vest that collapses into a small package so it can be stuffed into a jersey pocket.

  • regarding carrying food. It can come down to personal preference. I am a Type 1 Diabetic so on long rides I stuff my jersey pockets full of food and gels. But I cannot take the risk of being stuck without anything at all. – robthewolf Jun 2 '13 at 7:03

I never carry anything special on Centuries. I carry water and Clif bars but I carry that stuff anyway. The one thing I do differently is eat and drink more. It sounds like you have plenty of stops at good intervals. Make sure to eat a lot at each one of those whether you're hungry or not.

I wouldn't take any clothes. You'll be fine. We wear clothes all day and we're fine. I certainly wouldn't take anything that I haven't been training with previously. Don't run a race with new shoes. Or whatever the bike equivalent is.

This is me. If I were in this ride and there was help and food stations set up, I wouldn't take any of my own. I wouldn't want the encumbermant of self-help products. Plus, it would be pretty cool to go on a long ride without that stuff. Let the volunteers do what they do. Let them feed you, let them fix your tires, let them carry out the trash. They want to do it. You hardly never get help on the road so take advantage of it.

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    I always carry at least a couple energy bars on supported rides, because sometimes the food stops are understocked or aren't even open at all when I get there (too early or too late). Sometimes they even run out of water. – Johnny Jun 6 '13 at 17:13

In addition to items listed in previous answers, I think it would be very beneficial to bring a couple of small (9 ml) packets of Chamois cream and re-apply as needed at the rest stops. This will reduce a lot of chaffing.

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