Essentially the only piece of equipment you need to participate in The British Cycling Quest is a bicycle however there are a number of different things that you might need that could make the days on the bike easier or more enjoyable. I have listed some of the bikes, equipment and things below that I have used on my quest, and whilst this is by no means an exhaustive list this is just what I’ve used.
Bicycles – the most basic piece of equipment you will need for the Quest, I have currently used three bicycles for questing, my first was a road bike that I used for general riding, and was fine for checkpoints etc that were close to home, but as my days became longer I invested in a hybrid mountain bike that I converted to road touring with road tyres, a pannier rack and lights etc. The third and probably strangest of bicycles I have used is a Brompton, this folding marvel was brilliant for helping me get around on the tube whilst doing the Greater London checkpoints, and is a useful option when travelling and taking a standard bike isn’t practical.
Luggage bag – If you’re going out for a full day we would recommend finding a way to attach a bag to your bicycle just so that you don’t have to carry anything in a rucksack which can get sweaty and uncomfortable very quickly. If you’re going for long days or multi-day tours you can’t beat a proper rear rack with a pannier or top trunk to carry your gear.
Sat Nav – With the exception of the bikes, the best investment in equipment I made was to get a decent Sat-Nav with turn by turn directions, and the ability to record my rides for uploading to various ride tracking services. My current Sat-Nav of choice is the Garmin Edge 1000, it has a large, bright and easy to read display with a long battery life which is essential for those longer days touring and questing.
Clothing – a poor choice in clothing can turn a nice pleasant ride in to something uncomfortable, unpleasant and un-enjoyable. Clothing is definitely a matter of personal preference and it may take you a little while to find gear that suits you and provides comfort, warmth, sweat wicking, and looks good. My brand of choice is currently ‘Fat Lad At The Back‘ who provide both mens and womens clothing in a huge range of sizes. For clothing there’s nothing better than trying it on for fit etc, so I would recommend trying on anything you buy before committing your money if you can.
Phone – These days nobody goes anywhere without their phone, and taking a phone is essential when Questing, not only will it prove useful if you have a problem and need to ring for help. If you have a mapping failure with your Sat-Nav then you can use it to help you out with maps etc. Lastly, the Quest will take you to some wonderful places – if you’d rather not carry a separate camera then you can use it to record the places you visit and see on the Quest.
There are of course all manner of other accessories etc you may need or want to carry on your Questing journey, some of the things I’ve carried in the past include.
- Spare inner tube(s) and emergency toolkit.
- Phone charging battery packs
- Small first aid kit (thankfully never used)
- Rain jacket
- Lights – at least take some tracers to be seen by, and if there’s even the slightest possibility you will be out after take take something to light your way.
Items carried when space allows / necessity dictates
- DSLR Camera
- Compact Camera
- Kindle (for the train!)
- Spare clothing
- Sun cream
- Re-hydration tablets
I would also recommend familiarising yourself with changing a tube on your bike and the operation of your emergency toolkit items before embarking on any great adventures. In my emergency toolkit I usually carry:
- Tyre levers – three to be safe, go for plastic as they wont scratch / damage your wheel rims
- Mini pump – make sure it has the right valve fitting for your tubes
- Compressed air pump & spare canisters – getting road tyres to the right pressure by using a hand pump alone is tough, one of these will finish the job off for you.
- Multi-tool – The cyclists Swiss army knife, make sure you have one that contains the tools for all the bolts and fixing on your bike.
- Latex gloves – keep your hands clean if you need to do any out in the field maintenance, especially around the chain area.
Depending on the length of your tour and your attitude to risk you may want to carry other spares etc but that would need to be your call.