Riding gravel is a blast, but it requires a whole new strategy for what to carry in your saddle bag.
We recently connected with two local experts who helped get us on the right track for our next trail ride.
If you’re riding gravel, then you’re probably riding tubeless tires… or you should be. They allow you to run much lower tire pressures — which are vital for maintaining traction on loose, sketchy terrain — and the absence of a tube eliminates the risk of pinch flats.
Local pro and gravel phenom Jess Cerra swears by tubeless (she claims that tubes simply aren’t practical on the dirt), but admits they require a new way of thinking… and some new skills. Here’s what she carries on her training rides to care for those tires:
- Reamer and bacon strips (to plug holes that the sealant won’t fix)
- Tire lever
- Boot (cut from an old tube)
- CO2 and chuck
- Spare tube (for when the puncture just can’t be plugged)
Jess also reminds us that the hot, dry weather of San Diego summers requires that we regularly check the amount of sealant that remains liquid in the tires; you should expect to top them up monthly.
Del Mar resident and founder of Speedplay Pedals Richard Bryne is legendary for being a bit of a MacGyver when it comes to trailside repairs, but part of that is due to his judicious selection of tools and spare parts often required to avoid a long hike back to the car.
Unlike civilized road rides where you’re only an Uber drive away from the coffee shop, Richard stresses the importance of self-sufficiency when riding the dirt.
In addition to his tire repair kit, he always has:
- Micro chain tool
- 2 extra chain quick-links
- Small multitool
- Small frame pump
- Extra pedal cleat
- Foldable reading glasses (for the close-up work!)
It goes without saying, but don’t wait until you have a mishap on the trail to learn how to use your new kit. There are plenty of fantastic YouTube videos to guide you along, or talk an experienced friend into showing you how to master your tools and techniques.
See you on the trail!