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.


This startled me one morning when I rolled into the bike storage room at work. I don’t know who did this or if they did it on purpose, but it’s awesome.

DIY bike panniers

Odd, but ingenious. You can get 5 gallon food buckets for free from many restaurants, and they’re certainly sturdy and waterproof.


This poor thing has sat outside one of our buildings at work for a good six months. During this time, I’ve watched it lose all of its accessories, fork, handlebars, seatpost, saddle, and front wheel. I noticed something the other day that’s a bit astounding: it is locked to the rack only by the rear wheel, and no one has stolen the frame yet.

Don’t wear underwear with your bike shorts

“No one will tell you this, so I’m going to tell you. We don’t wear underwear under our bike shorts.”

It’s true. One of the ride leaders gave us this advice at one of the first training rides I did last summer.

Recently, I got to talking about bike riding at a doctor’s visit. As soon as the doctor was out of the room, the nurse turned to me and said, “I have to tell you this.” She’d signed up for the STP a few years ago, and was still traumatized at how she’d gotten so badly chafed that it hurt to sit for several days. “No one told me not to wear underwear!” she lamented. She hasn’t ridden her bike since.

So there you go. No underwear. Go forth and pedal.