The most important thing I learned during the group rides last year was to prepare early. The training rides I’m doing this year mostly start at 9:00 am, which is a blessed relief from last year when they started at 8 or 7. I’m not a morning person by far, so trying to get ready and get out the door on time was just not going to happen. After a few weeks I came up with the following checklist and also realized that my life is smoother when I prepare everything I need the night before, a philosophy I follow for work days as well.

Thanks to preparing early, I can usually be out the door in 30 minutes.


Things I always keep in my saddle bag

I like to keep the amount of prep I need to do to a minimum, so I keep all of the bike kit in my saddlebag and leave it there. I have duplicates of most of these items that I keep in the pannier I take to work so I don’t have to worry about switching things back and forth. In addition to the items below, my boyfriend keeps a first aid kit in his bag.

  • Tire levers
  • Spare tube
  • Patch kit
  • CO₂ inflator
  • Backup CO₂ cartridge
  • Bike multi-tool
  • Lip balm (laugh all you want, I’m OK with being addicted)
  • Rubber gloves

One or two days before the ride

  • Go through supplies and find out if there’s anything we need. Go shopping that day and pick them up.

The night before the ride

  • Make sure my RoadID (our “ticket” to the group training rides) is in my handlebar bag.
  • Stock my bags with all of the energy snacks I’ll need.
  • Print a cue sheet and put it in the cue sheet holder on my handlebar bag.
  • Put my wallet (actually just cards, cash, and a rubber band) in my handlebar bag.
  • Download the GPX file for the ride on my phone.
  • Fill up water bottles and my CamelBak. I put these in the fridge, then put my keys with them. That way, I know where my keys are and am less likely to forget water.
  • Inflate tires.
  • Check brakes.
  • Put my bike clothes in the bathroom so that I don’t need to think at all about what I’m going to wear.
  • Put my shoes, handlebar bag, helmet, glasses, gloves, jacket (if I’m bringing one), and waterproof gear (if needed, but since I live in Seattle I usually pack it just in case) in a paper grocery bag. I try to pack things in reverse order of when I’ll need them. I then put that bag in my car. That way, everything I need is already packed. My boyfriend doesn’t like this strategy so he loads his stuff in the morning.
  • Start the rice cooker if that’s what I’ll be eating for breakfast.
  • Make sure I know where the ride start is and get directions if needed.
  • Do all pet-related chores.

The morning of the ride

  • Snooze a few times and remind myself that I actually enjoy these rides.
  • Get dressed.
  • Eat breakfast. This is usually rice or instant oatmeal.
  • Put the water from the fridge in the car.
  • Put my boyfriend’s stuff in the car.
  • Break open a few bags of energy chews and put them in the pockets of my skort so they’re ready.
  • Load the bikes.