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Planning a 150 mile rails-to-trail ride (GAP trail from Pittsburg) with my family of 5. We'd potentially be 10 to 15 miles max from "civilization", probably further from a bike shop. But expect to see other riders on the trail (it's fairly high traffic, with campgrounds every 10 miles or so)

What's the minimum I should bring?

  • Bike tools (allen wrenches, screw driver, etc.)
  • Patch kit (tire levers, etc. hand pump)
  • Spare tubes
  • Quicklink (for the two chain sizes we'll have)

Planning to have the bikes serviced before leaving. New chains as needed.

I'm not super handy with anything more complicated.

I have the non bike stuff covered :

  • Camping gear
  • First aid kit
  • Hiking type stuff (rain gear, socks, etc.)
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    Your patch kit should include a pump of course (not CO₂ as you'd have to carry a lot to handle something like all of you riding through thorns). – Chris H Apr 13 '16 at 14:36
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    I would also add a tire boot of some sort in case a tire gets cut, a dollar bill also works for this in a pinch as the tube holds it against the casing. – Nate W Apr 13 '16 at 18:09
  • The only thing I might add is a couple of brake/shifter cables, or just make sure yours are in good shape before you start. You can get by with a single brake or no shifting, but it would make you trip a little less fun and the added weight would be minimal. – Kibbee Apr 13 '16 at 20:05
  • You should make sure that the hand pump is a decent one. Many "compact" pumps are more theoretical than practical -- you can get the pressure up to 20-30 pounds after 15 minutes of work, but forget about 50-70 psi. A full-length "frame pump" is by far the best choice over "compact" units. – Daniel R Hicks Apr 13 '16 at 21:41
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    (Also check the "related" column to your right for first aid kit suggestions. You don't need a lot, but a few bits can make a minor spill much less unpleasant.) – Daniel R Hicks Apr 13 '16 at 21:42
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You're not going deep into the back country, and at worst, if a bike broke, you could get back to a safe place after a half-day of gentle hiking. You have everything covered. Have fun.

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  • Yeah, that's a pretty civilized part of the country, and, besides that, many other cyclists will be along to lend assistance if need be. The kit you have (plus the suggested minor additions) should be plenty. The only other thing to be sure to have is rain gear. – Daniel R Hicks Apr 13 '16 at 21:38
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150 miles isn't all that far, but if I had five people, I'd bring a chain whip, spanner and cassette removal tool, some spoke wrenches (in the right sizes for everyone's spoke nipples) and spokes in various sizes (again, matching the mixture of bikes). If someone who has rim brakes pops a spoke, the rest of the trip won't be as much fun for them. Spokes tend to break on the cassette side of the rear hub, requiring cassette removal to insert the new one.

Also a chain pin press for opening/closing. The extra quick links are of little use by themselves; you're unlikely to lose the ones that are on your chain now for a straight replacement. If a chain breaks or a link gets bent, you will likely need the chain tool to remove a bad link before you can put it together with the quick links.

There is probably no need to get carried away: keep the bottom bracket removal tools and such at home. You probably won't be rebuilding suspension forks, or taking apart derailleurs and such.

Speaking of getting dirty: bring a decent quantity of the pumice-type mechanic's hand cleaner. You fixed that broken chain and spoke, and want to get on your way, but your hands are filthy, leaving black grime on everything you touch. Related to this: consider bringing a pair of work gloves.

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  • Medical type gloves work okay, but they don't last long. Mechanic's cotton gloves work great and last longer. – Criggie Apr 14 '16 at 4:00
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    Replacement spokes are probably overkill for a trip like this, especially if the OP has never tried his hand at wheel repair. He'd also have to measure each of the wheels to find the correct spoke length, which isn't especially easy. – Will Vousden Apr 14 '16 at 7:54
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There's so much more you need to consider than simple bike breakdowns.
I don't know how remote this track is, but assume worst case you meet noone on the entire ride. So you need to carry:

Food and water for your segment, plus enough spare for an overnight.

Sunblock and rain coats and warm clothes. Sunhat each.

Change of clothes - biking in wet is no fun.

Walking shoes - if anyone uses cleats carry some way of walking as well. Barefoot/socks is not a good plan.

Medical requirements, a thermal space blanket if you get stuck, good for shock too.

Fully charged cellphones if you expect coverage there, and a USB battery+cable. Cellphones on the limit of coverage use their charge faster because they're transmitting at full power to find a cell.

If coverage is non-existent, what would you do in the event of a medical need? Split the party and ride off to get help?

Being only 10 miles (16 km) from help is no reason to go unprepared. Consider how you're going to carry all this... backpacks are not ideal. Racks and panniers are okay but get caught on things. Frame bags are good but not cheap.

Depending on the age and capacity of your younger family members, you may need to help them. A tow-bar like a trailgator can help the little kids keep up.

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  • Personal story - I was once on a trip where we were stopped in a cold riverbed for an hour. The driving rain was so cold we ended up under a groundsheet while wearing spare socks on our hands and spare pants on our heads for warmth. – Criggie Apr 14 '16 at 1:11
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    Yeah, it's critical to have adequate sun lotion (and use it before you notice you need it), and having some bug repellent is helpful too. Last year I had along a bunch of "Off" brand "Deep Woods Towelettes", which are individual wipes, saturated with bug repellent and sealed in individual packets. One of these could be stretched to "treat" 3-4 people at a stop, and my companions were delighted to get the left-overs after I'd used one on myself. – Daniel R Hicks Apr 14 '16 at 1:29
  • Toilet paper!!! – Criggie Apr 14 '16 at 4:01
  • Baby wipes. Work as TP and also for cleaning stuff. – Daniel R Hicks Apr 14 '16 at 12:26
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    On the GAP I wouldn't recommend burying anything -- use the trash cans. Soiled wipes should be kept out of flush toilets but can be placed in most porta-potties and the like with a clear conscience. – Daniel R Hicks Apr 14 '16 at 21:51

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