What to Bring on a Ride

by Susan Rodetis

A bicycling accident caused me to review and augment what I normally carry when cycling. I think my fellow cyclists will find it helpful, as well. It's always good (and easy) to be prepared; as in – "what would you need if (heavens forbid) you were down, or solo, or unconscious?" The good news is that is a compact list of mostly paper items, easily collapsible into a sealing plastic bag (express the air so it lays flat and doesn't take up much space) and carried in a secure pocket on my person (NOT on the bike; you could get separated from the bike in a fall, or via theft). I've also made sets of this kit for different bikes; ready "to go" at a moment's notice. [NOTE: Other bicycle-support items, such as spare tube(s), patch kit, etc., are beyond my present focus.] I thank my sister Joan Buddecke, who's been a trauma nurse and runs triage desks, for helping review and clarify this list.

  • government photo ID
  • color copy of my NYS drivers license
  • health insurance card – with pertinent carrier info, group/ID numbers, phone inquiry #
  • blood type card or med alert info – especially helpful if "time is of the essence" in a medical situation
  • emergency contact info – legible list of several names/number, prioritized as to which first (business cards can also work for convenient contact info)
  • ICE contact numbers on cell phone – there's a growing initiative to have an "ICE" (in case of emergency) acronym in front of key people (better to have more than 1) in cell phone rosters; many rescue workers are trained to look for such. Multiple listings should be ICE1, ICE2, etc.
  • any emergency meds, inhalers, bee sting kit, etc. – what's important to you?
  • 2 doses NSAIDs, 1 antihistamime – my personal choices. I carry them wrapped in aluminum foil inside my tube patch kit (protects from getting loose, dirty or squished)
  • cash – enough for what I estimate would be a medium-sized bike repair PLUS to get home via any reasonable combo of [taxi + public transit]. Cab cost takes into account possibly higher $ of being deep in a rural area. Enough currency in different denominations (20s, 10s, 5s, 1s) to make change and have what's needed for purchases, sharing costs, etc. A few coins for public phones or to make "exact change" sometimes needed for transport or vending machines.
  • major credit and/or bank card – VISA or MasterCard (merchants, particularly in smaller shops or towns, tend to use these rather than AMEX which charges them more). A bank card to draw cash from reasonably any ATM (OK, those high fees once only don't hurt as much as not having $$ when you want).
  • phone credit card number/phone card – cell phones don't work well in the hinterlands; these can help get a call through a private or public phone.
  • my business card or home contact info – convenient for handing out your contact info if needed to be copied, or if future contact necessary
  • little pen for writing info – plus something to write on
  • house or minimal key(s) needed – shed all extraneous keys ~MetroNorth/LIRR pass – color copy. I tend to lose these; it's handy to have back-up copies (rather than run to Window 27/GCT or re-order via mail)
  • NYC MetroCard – loaded with 4-5 fares (you never know when you and friends may dash for the subway!)