What to pack in your race kit bag? Practical race preparation.

Michael Guilford Coaching, Level 2, Level 2, library, Riding

You’ve spent 15hrs a week training for races/events, a bit of time spent on practical and logistical preparation can make a massive difference.

I think of preparing for an event as a probability or risk based task, if you consider every element of possible failure, the likelihood of it happening, its severity, you can select appropriate measures to mitigate the risk

I use a top down approach starting with the most severe and probable causes of failure. This will be different for every athlete, but this is written from my point of view.


How do you want to feel on the start line? How do you not want to feel? What things leading up to the race will affect this?

One of the key areas of improvement in my racing is logistics. I would read or remember race dates or timings incorrectly which would mean last minute adjustments or even in the worst case turning up to a race on the wrong time or day. This was partly due to being dsylexic, mixed with a lack of anxiety and stress management.

One of the key interventions was changing what I was doing leading up to a race or the race season.

1 month before the season starts:

  • finish all technical adjustments (bike, fit, bike setup etc)
  • Get a plan finalised fort the first 2 months of racing and as far forward as possible.
  • Rest/taper before the first race

Plan the week before the race so that the day before the race you can:

  • avoid logistical decisions¬† (transport, support, route)
  • avoid unusual or excessive eating habits (carb loading, or eating more than normal)
  • avoid socially demanding activities
  • avoid manual tasks or draining activities
  • reflect on previous positive experiences
  • do stimulating and mentally energising activities
  • plenty of light cycling (<Z2 <2hrs)
  • rest

Race kit bag

For me my race kit bag stays pretty much the same even when travelling by train. If I travel by car then I will add a few extra contigencies (spare wheels and cassette)

Start with  the absolute essentials, these are the things you could beg steal or borrow or race without:

  • travel plan and backup plan
  • Shoes
  • helmet
  • shorts/jersey/skinsuit
  • phone

Moving onto slightly less essential:

  • Wallet
  • nutrition bottles, and food
  • Puncture repair (spare tubs x2, tub tape, tubes, spray sealant, pump)
  • multitool
  • small set of lights

Now dealing with the details:

mechanical failures

  • spoke key
  • spare brake and gear cables
  • M4,5 and 6 bolts a couple of each is enough
  • SRAM powerlink (these work with shimano chains as well)
  • Spare cleats
  • Brake pads
  • Spare powermeter/HRM battery and tools to change


  • small towel
  • spare change of clothes
  • (winter and wet gear) arm warmers, leg warmers, spare gloves, windproof/waterproof,overshoes

People find it difficult to differentiate between marginal gains and detailed preparation. so