Don’t listen to a word that Armstrong fellow says. How many times has he gone up Ditchling Beacon, anyway? (**) It is most definitely about the bike.
It’s not about the type of bike. Road bikes, touring bikes, hybrids, tandems, recumbents, Bromptons, ladies shopping bikes with big bells, full suspension mountain bikes, Halfords speshuls, a tall bike....we’ve seen them all, and they’ve all made it to the end of the ride. But....we’ve also seen a lot of people make their ride tougher than it need be. Do spend a little time going over your bike with the list to hand, and see if you can’t make life easier for yourself.
The first, biggest rule is.......Lose everything that you don’t really, really need. See those mudguards, that rack, those panniers? Have them off. Mudguards are intent on working loose and rubbing against your wheel. If they’re not doing that they’re rattling. And if they’re not doing that they’re just slowing you down just by being there. If the roads are wet and the person behind complains about the spray, then they have the option of dropping off a few metres. Wear that stripe up the back of your showerproof top with pride.
Racks and panniers are the work of the devil. You DO need to carry a couple of spare innertubes, a pump, a lightweight waterproof, tyre levers, a spare chain link and some allen keys. Put those in a back pocket or in a cheap lightweight haversack. You DON'T need to carry Auntie Mabel’s fruit cake and her famous cheese and pickle sandwiches. Nobody has ever starved to death on one of our rides. Put some squash, water or an energy drink in your water bottle and stick an energy bar in your back pocket. That’s it.
Locks are a little trickier. Once you’re on the ride your bike is reasonably safe – and you could always ask one of your fellow riders if your bike can be locked to theirs at the beginning or the end of the ride – but if you need a lock getting to the start and going home from the end then you should bring one.
Check to see that your tyres are inflated to the right pressure. If they’re underinflated your chances of getting a puncture increase, and your efficiency is greatly reduced.
Make sure the batteries for your lights are full to the brim with juice
Here's the Dr. Bike list. It's worth going through and making sure your pride and joy ticks all the boxes. If you click on the list it gets bigger...
(**) I'm indebted to those of you who have told me he went up the Beacon in 1994. How dull would life be without friends paying this much attention to detail.