When you enter an Audax event you sign an undertaking that acknowledges that you are on an independent ride. You and your bike need to be entirely self-reliant. This obviously means carrying a puncture repair kit and pump, and enough tools to keep you going in an emergency. Naturally, you'll want to carry the bare minimum for reasons of weight. Here's my list: I've used everything except the emergency spoke.

I recently ditched the woodsaw variant of the Swiss Army knife in favour of the one with a Philips screwdriver and a magnifying glass. I could get the weight down a bit more if I splashed out on a cool tool.

First aid

Most injuries in cycling involve road rash after a surface related spill. As the treatment for this is basically to give it a good wash and a scrub to remove all particles there's not a lot of point in carrying much additional kit for the eventuality. I was glad of a few plasters when I started to develop a small blister on my right little toe at about 800k on the PBP, and I treated a fellow cyclist who cut his finger changing gear (?!) on the 600. Here's what I carry:

Anything that lot doesn't handle and it's off to hospital, which is the only honourable way not to finish an Audax event.

Personal hygiene

Most of the events have involved being away for at least the weekend. Even though it's been a point of pride to ride to and from the start as much as possible, it's still possible to end up sharing a railway carriage with the general public. Fresh sweat doesn't smell: it's the bacterial degradation of it once it's hit the surface of your skin that causes odours. Clean clothes put on after a shower give you about 8 - 12 hours grace however hard you exercise, but after that it's a bit mediaeval not to shower. The essential item is the shampoo, used for washing clothes and body alike. You're eating so much that it's generally pretty unpleasant to go without brushing your teeth for longer than 24 hours. Not surpisingly, prolonged exercise seems to increase intestinal transit time, so apart from the one ride I did with incipient gastroenteritis, I've never been caught short in the country, but having the tissues along seems a good idea just in case.*

*I completed the 200km Dunwich Dynamo in 1997 despite fairly severe diarrhoea. It had just started as I was about to leave the house, but I thought it was a one off. Unfortunately not. Still, it was easier to keep riding than to pack. It's more convenient to leap off a bike and behind a bush than sit in the sag wagon.


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©Douglas Carnall 1999