Tools & Spares
As a bare minimum you’ll need to be able to fix any punctures. Whilst most rides pass through quite a few towns during the day where there are bike shops, you’ll want to have ample tubes to get you through the night.
Giving your bike a good check over before you start will minimise the mechanical risks which you run but many riders will carry a basic took kit of a multitool, a small spanner, small screwdriver, a chain tool and spare links. What else you carry tends to reflect what you think is most likely to be needed on your bike. Some riders carry nothing beyond a puncture kit, a pump and a pair of crossed fingers but others will include items such as spare spokes, cables and outer tubes.
In country lanes, in the dead of night you need not just to be seen but to have a pretty good idea of your surroundings and of any potential hazards. Your lights should be able to last through the night so spare batteries or a battery pack for rechargables will be needed. Advice on lighting appears on many forums but you will need something powerful on the front and the back. If you are riding in a group, flashing lights won’t make you very popular.
You will also want to think about a head touch to help you read the route sheet or see your GPS. Crucially, on country lanes late at night, motorists don’t always expect to see a cyclist. A hi-viz vest and powerful lights will make you stand out. Depending on your lighting set up you may need spare batteries.
Whenever you ride the British climate can be unpredictable. How much clothing you bring is up to each rider but in general the longer the ride the more you need to prepare for every eventuality. On a longer ride you’ll need waterproof gear that is suitable for several hours wear and possibly gloves (at least for night sections when it is likely to become chilly even in high summer). A hi-viz top is highly recommended for any night sections.
Remember, audax rides are self supported – you might be lucky to meet another rider with the tools or spares you need but it’s unlikely they will have spare clothing.
Although some riders like to travel light with noting more than a toolkit and spares stuffed into their jersey pockets, most long distance events require you to carry enough kit to warrant some form of bike luggage. The classic Carradice Saddlebag is a tried and tested option but many ighter weight options are now available for frame, seatpost and handlebar bags. Most Audax rides have a reasonable amount of climbing and for that reason alone we wouldn’t recommend the classic pannier set-up unless you actively want to make the climbs more challenging.
Audax events do not require mudguards on your bike, although if it is likely to be wet, your fellow riders might thank you for using them. Whilst you might not want a training plan, you may want to try a few rides in the dark just to get used to planning the equipment you want to bring.