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Pack Your Bags & Go

Cycling Rice Lake

This article was originally published in the 2019 Cycling in Ontario Guide. Written by John Swart. Photo Credit: Northumberland Tourism.

In our excitement to ride and discover Ontario by bike, we sometimes forget the right gear can make our trips much more enjoyable.   Whether you prefer day or multi-day trips on road, trails, gravel or mountain bike track, consider these tips as you equip yourself and your bike.


  • Lights and brights. Bright apparel, and new “daytime” front and rear lights can make you visible over a kilometre away.
  • Hydration and fuel. Water or sports drink, one litre per hour is the warm-weather guideline. Energy bars or your own mix of carbs, protein and electrolytes.
  • Tools. Spare tube, pump, tire levers, a multi-tool and hand wipes.  Even if you don’t know how to use them, someone that does will help you.
  • Day bag essentials. A phone for photos and emergencies, cash, a credit card, ID and contact info, suntan lotion, lip balm and eye protection.
  • Optional. A GPS to follow routes or to find your way.  Runners if you cycle with cleats.  A helmet or handlebar rear view mirror. Lightweight cable lock.
  • How to carry it? The choice of racks and packs is exploding as manufacturers search for light weight and versatility.  For day trips, consider a simple seat post carrier and bag, a handlebar bag for quick access to your stuff, or frame bag.  If your bike and seat post are carbon, there’s new ‘bikepacking’ frameless seat and handlebar packs that won’t damage your frame.
what to pack bike


  • Extras? You’ll want the road gear already listed, plus you’ll be burning more calories, hammering your bike more, and may be further away from assistance.  Self-sufficiency is important.   Consider more water, more snacks, a tire boot kit, insect repellent, bear spray, thermal blanket, and a few zip-ties.  Most importantly, let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.   It’s not called the Great Outdoors for no reason.
OTMPC Cycling

 Photo Credit: Destination Ontario 


Ontario cyclists are blessed because many routes are in vacation areas, and whether you’re camping or prefer B&Bs, hotels, motels or vacation resorts, you’ll find accommodation easily.    

  • Camping. Lightweight tents, sleeping bags, and sleep pads abound, as do single-burner stoves and cooking equipment that cyclists can find on dedicated cycling and backpacking websites.  For traditional on-road trips, add large panniers on sturdy frame-mounted racks, and front panniers for maximum carrying capacity, to your day trip gear.   If scoring huge daily distances is what you’re after, large volume, superlight bike packing gear is what you want.  Add frame bags and top tube packs to the seat and handlebar packs already mentioned.
  • Non-camping trips, even on gravel and mountain bikes, are possible in Ontario. Losing the camping gear means more space for casual clothing, toiletries, shoes, laundry soap and a clothes line.  If you’re touring in-season, consider pre-booking rooms to avoid stress and disappointment.

And …. don’t forget your helmet and padded cycling shorts.


Hydration Facts Cyclists Need to Know.

  • 50 percent of your body is water- 60 percent for males. Muscle is approximately 73 percent water.
  • We need water for digestion, nutrient transport, joint lubrication, waste removal, and heat dissipation.
  • Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluid than you drink.  After 1.5 kilogram loss of fluid, mental acuity suffers and muscle cramping may begin.
  • Consume one litre of water within two hours before cycling, and one litre per hour of cycling.

Source:  American Council on Exercise & Nancy Clark, MS,RD,CSSD

This article was originally featured in the 2019 Cycling in Ontario Guide. Written by John Swart. Available in French & English.

Cycling Ontario 2019
Published On: June 14, 2019Categories: Guest Blog

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