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Preparing For a Double Century (Gear)
Sagging-in for avoidable reasons and/or burdening others with your own planning failures is poor sportsmanship. Mistakes can be made (I have done so, and one can’t plan for everything), but in a double century one should be solidly prepared.
- Don’t ride on worn out tires, or tires that already have cuts just to eke out a little more mileage on dubious tires. A blow-out can be fatal.
- Consider temporarily replacing ultralight parts such as titanium wheel skewers with steel ones.
- Have the wheels trued, check for weak spokes.
- For tubular riders, carry Stan’s No Tubes sealant and a spare tire (removable valve cores and tool required, know how to use it!).
- For clincher/tubeless riders: carry two spare tubes and a patch kit, and consider carrying a lightweight spare tire.
- Lube the drive train, check shifting, etc.
- Check the tightness of water bottle bolts, check torque on stem, seat post and/or have the bike tuned up by a professional mechanic. Carry allen wrenches for these common areas (bolts can rattle loose).
- Fresh bar wrap (comfort).
- Charge batteries / lights.
- Inflate tires properly and carry a useable (test it before!) pump.
- Carry at least $50 cash and a credit card. You might need to stop and buy something, like a tire or tube!
- Carry ID and health card in case you end up in an ambulance.
Carry allen wrenches to fit the water bottle bolts, which can rattle loose on any bike. This is the only on-the-road need I’ve had for tools (what a headache if a bottle cage starts to rattle loose!), but I keep my bikes very well tuned. Rough pavement takes its tool.
Carry a tire iron for flat repair, plastic coated steel is best (not just plastic).
Carry other tools if the bike has special parts or is prone to something.
Planning for flats
Always carry a pump (and test it before you ride for good operation!). I carry the Blackburn AirStik SL or similar or road cycling. It’s only 60 grams or so.
For fast turnaround for a flat, carry CO2 cartridges and inflater valve.
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Clincher riders should carry at least two spare tubes and a patch kit.
Clincher tire riders should carry a spare tire also. Tires can be cut and badly damaged; the Veloflex Record clincher is very light and compact, so it makes a good spare. The Schwalbe Ultremo ZX is another good choice, but slightly heavier and bulkier.
You might hear advice to not use tubulars on double century. I consider this ill-informed advice, assuming appropriate choices. A quality tubular has many benefits, not the least of which are safety and comfort, and the ability to use highly effective Stan’s NoTubes tire sealant.
Most events will not have spare tubulars, so carry two spare tubulars, with a light layer of glue on the spares for better adhesion. The compact and lightweight Veloflex Record is what I generally carry. I can replace a failed tire in under 10 minutes, so no big deal, but do be careful cornering on a non-glued tire. Carry a plastic tire lever for help removing the tire.
- Spare valve extender, just in case something fails with the one you have, or someone gives you a spare that needs a valve extender.
- Valve-core removal tool in small plastic baggie (it is tiny and easy to lose).
- One or two bottles of Stan’s NoTubes tire sealant. Figure 1/3 to 1/2 bottle per tire, 1/3 tube for pinhole/medium leaks, 1/2 to a full tube for a bad cut.
Avoid using your spare tubular tires; they are a backup plan: Stan’s NoTubes tire sealant can fix most leaks in under 5 minutes! Skip the other tire sealant products, they have a low success rate. Make sure you have used Stan’s before, don’t let a flat on a double century be your first try. Be sure to read my tips about using Stan’s NoTubes tire sealant.
Use only tubular tires with a removable valve core so that the valve core can be removed to allow the Stan’s NoTubes tire sealant to be installed.