One of the rules of the road as a cyclist, at least in my community, is that when you see a fellow cyclist on the side of the road fiddling with their bicycle to ask “Do you have everything you need?”. Nine times out of ten the answer is yes, we are a resourceful lot. But occasionally someone will look back at you with a blank stare on their face and respond, “I don’t know” and that is when you stop to help them figure it out. I call it bicycle Karma.
Whether I am going on a thirty-mile ride or a one hundred mile adventure I pretty much carry the same things with me. Here is my list;
In my jersey pockets
- My cell phone wrapped in a sandwich bag.
- My cycling “wallet” that contains; $15.00, a credit card, a spare car key, four baby aspirin (in case someone has a heart attack including me), four Benadryl (in case someone gets stung by a mad hornet including me)
- Food-a powerbar, energy gels, energy chews
- A small wash cloth
- Maybe an extra water bottle
- Maybe a spare inner tube on longer rides
On my bicycle
- Two water bottles filled with electrolytes
In my wedge (a small bag under my saddle)-
- Spare inner tube
- CO2 Inflation System and a spare cartridge
- Tire Lever
- Emergency chain link
- A boot (placed in the tire if it splits to hold the inner tube in)
- Folding reading glasses (cause I am old)
- Two feet of electrical tape wrapped around my CO2 inflator
- A patch kit
All of this is crammed into a 8″ x 2.5″ x 4″ nylon “suitcase”.
This is my survival kit, the “Do you have everything you need?” assortment of stuff that will hopefully get me or someone else home if there is a problem.
I have been a cyclist for over ten years. I have fixed flat tires for a countless number of “newbies” who just decided to buy a bike and go for a ride with no thought about something going wrong miles away from their home or car. People that, when I unzipped their wedge the only things I found was a granola bar and their car keys. I never berate or belittle them, Karma doesn’t work like that, I fix the flat and for many, let them ride on my wheel back to their car or a place they feel safe like a convenience store. That is how you build-up Karma credits. I thought I had a lot of credit in the bank. But last night, I didn’t follow the Karma rules.
My wife and rode everyday over the long holiday weekend, 60 miles on our road bikes Saturday, 25 miles on Sunday and 20 miles on Monday on our mountain bikes. So last night on our regular Tuesday night, 30 mile excursion, my legs were toast. We got a late start and it is getting dark earlier so I busted it out of the gate so we could get back before the lights went out. About five miles into the ride we passed two guys on the side of the road with the front wheel off of one of their bikes. Passing them I made a quick assessment, nice bikes, both in full kits of some unknown origin, they will be fine I thought. So we pedaled on. My wife, ever the caring and compassionate woman said, “Should we have stopped?”. I responded at 25 mph on my favorite, flat, straight, two-mile ribbon of asphalt, “No they will be fine!”……Karma.
Halfway down the road, this fun road, this I am still a bad ass road, I looked down at my front tire, flat and getting flatter.
So last night, with the sun going down, sweating my big ass off, changing a tube in the high grass, battling fire ants and horse flies while listening to 50 cyclist pass me asking “Do you have everything you need?” I made the worst Karma mistake possible, I assumed. You should never ASSUME when it comes to Karma, because when you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME. You don’t think Karma is a bitch? Test her, I dare you, I double dog dare you.