This summer marks a decade since I first participated in RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) – the largest bicycle touring event in the world. Since then, I have learned a lot about bicycle gear – what’s helpful, what’s not, and some things I never would have even imagined would be useful. Moxie gear is my go-to for cycling clothing because their jerseys are highly functional with feminine styling. But, in addition to great clothes, you need some great gear for successful bike rides. Some of my favorites are:
#1: Bright Rechargeable Lights
When I got my first grown-up bicycle, I found myself on longer rides and lingering at Tacopocalypse Tuesday at the Cumming Tap well past sunset. Lights were necessary for a safe trip home. I started out with battery-powered lights. After a few years with those and lots of used up AA batteries, it was time for an upgrade. I went in to my local bike shop, Kyle’s Bikes, and announced I wanted “a headlight brighter than two matches.” They set me up with an Cygolite Expilion 850 head light and a Thunderbolt tail light. Both are rechargeable and have served me well on many night rides!
All bike helmets are created equal, right? Wrong! Back in 2006, I bought a Schwinn helmet from a big box store. It served me well enough, and I had no idea that some helmets actually didn’t feel like giant pieces of Styrofoam on your head. When it was time to upgrade, I bought a little nicer Trek helmet. It worked well, and saved my head when I wrecked training for RAGBRAI. That helmet is now on exhibit at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, in an award winning exhibition “Riding Through History: Celebrating the Spirit of Iowa and It’s People.” I briefly went back to a cheap helmet, but knew there was a better way. I tried out the Specialized Aspire helmet, which costs about three times as much as a cheap helmet, but will is a hundred times more comfortable. Spend a little more on a good helmet. You won’t regret it!
#3: Handlebar Bag
You need a place to carry all your great gear while riding. There are all kinds of bike bags available, especially in the color black. My favorite bag, though, is bright and fun! The Po Campo Six Corners Handlebar Bag easily clips on any handlebar. It’s the perfect size for eyeglasses, an iPod and a couple of snacks. I’m really looking forward to Po Campo’s new Kinga Handlebar Nag, which is just as cute and has more interior space!
#4: Revelate Mountain Feed Bag (and Kleen Kanteen)
The Revelate Feed Bag is a new favorite of mine! When I got a Specialized Hellga fat bike, I started riding more in cold weather. I like to be warm, and that usually includes taking coffee or hot tea on a ride. My Kleen Kanteen is perfect for that, and fits in a water bottle cage. But, then I would have to totally stop and unscrew the cap to enjoy my beverage. Not anymore! The Feed Bag keeps my Kleen Kanteen at hand! Complete with mesh side pockets, it’s also great for snacks and chapstick.
#5: Buckshot Rugged Bluetooth Speaker
We have all heard that riding with music makes you ride faster – and I believe it. But I also like to be aware of my surroundings and listen for approaching vehicles. Because of this, I didn’t ride with music for years. That all changed with the Buckshot Rugged Bluetooth Speaker. It has a rubber handlebar mount and is easy to move between bicycles. I connect it to my old iPhone, which now functions as an iPod. With 133 great tunes shuffled on my playlist, I can ride for hours! It’s rechargeable and the battery lasts for 16 hours. (And, the little speaker works so well I even use it in my house).
Five tunes that make me really turn the pedals are:
- Ragged As The Road by Reckless Kelly
- The Mercury by Turnpike Troubadours
- St. Valentine by Jason Boland & the Stragglers
- Rock Springs to Cheyenne by Micky & the Motorcars
- Freight Train by Aaron Watson
#6: BIKEIOWA Gear
BIKEIOWA is a passionate, grassroots, statewide organization that has been connecting cyclists with Iowa communities since 2001. The website, BIKEIOWA.com, has the most extensive events calendar in the Midwest. The calendar was a huge help to me when I jumped in to the Central Iowa cycling scene back in 2010. It was how I found out where to go have fun on two wheels! And now, my BIKEIOWA slap koozie and cycling cap are two of my favorite things! A slap koozie is ideal for cycling, because it can be wrapped around a bicycle’s top tube for easy transport. For the past couple years, I have been wearing cycling caps to cover up helmet hair and keep the sun out of my eyes. My new favorite cap is “Black Plaid is Rad” because it matches nearly all of my outfits!
#7: Chaco Flips
Sometimes when I ride, I like to take a break. Especially if it’s a hot, humid, summer day, I like to take off my cycling shoes and socks. This has left me standing barefoot in many a city park, or wherever the resting place happens to be. For 2016, I resolve to take my Chaco Flips on my longer rides. They provide serious arch support and could work really well for kicking around town. Plus, they should be easy to bungee on to a bike rack!
#8: Lens Cleaning Wipes
After 20 years of wearing eyeglasses, I still can’t figure out how to ride my bicycle and not get my eyeglasses dirty. This happens with my sunglasses too. Because I like to see clearly, I always toss a few disposable lens cleaning wipes in my handlebar bag.
#9: Antibacterial Hand-Gel
I’m not a germ phobe – but depending where a bike ride takes me, I can encounter some pretty vile things – like a portable restroom that’s already been used far beyond it’s daily capacity. For these occasions, I always have an antibacterial hand-gel affixed under my seat. Bath & Body Works makes little holders for their PocketBac Hand Sanitzers. My rules for eating during a bike ride? Always take your gloves off, and always sanitize your hands!
And finally, #10: A Plain Ol’ BandannaBandannas are incredibly useful to me as a cyclist. During grad school, I had a really bad, really cheap, summer haircut. I had asked for a chin length bob, and ended up with hair that barely reached my cheekbones! That summer, bandannas tied around my head were the only way to keep my hair back. Before I started wearing cycling caps, they were my go-to for covering up helmet hair. Today, I still carry a bandanna on nearly every ride. On a windy day, they are perfect for tying in to a headband and protecting my ears. If I drop my chain, I can use the bandanna to hold the chain while I put it back on (or clean off greasy fingers) and since I haven’t quite mastered blowing snot rockets, they are perfect for regular nose blowing and wiping too!
The more you ride, the more you will refine what gear works best for you. Just because something is or isn’t sold at a bike shop doesn’t mean that it is or isn’t right for cycling! Find what you like and use it to make your rides more enjoyable!
Jess Rundlett is a Moxie Cycling Ambassador and blog contributor. Check out her bio here!