Stage race/Multi-day pack list

You are well aware of the benefits of exploring new terrain and you’ve decided to do a stage race or a multi-day bike tour as one of the strategies to discover new trails. The D-day is coming closer and you need to make sure that you don’t forget any crucial items. I’ve prepared a list of crucial items, which will enable you to finish the race or tour even in the event of unplanned technical problems. I’ve prepared the list based on my experiences, competing on stage-races which include the Transalp, Transpyr and Bike4Peaks. You can download a .pdf version of the pack list here.

First things first

Before we get into detailed list of items you need to take with you I recommend you make sure to do the following:
  • Do you have all the permits to travel to the country of the race (visas)
  • How will you communicate with your family/work during the race week; top-up your Skype account or make sure to contact our carrier to enable some sort of travel plan (minutes or data abroad)
  • Inspect the bike for possible defects (is any component broken or loosely tight) and components wear (brake pads, tires and schedule a mechanic, if necessary
  • Check the weather forecast for the day/week of the race (this changes the pack list!)
  • Read the organizers instructions (place of registration/start, time of arrival, possible on-site payments (in local currency), location of accommodation)
  • Upload the GPS route of the race into your device
Also note that every race, every rider and each riders’ equipment is specific, so make sure to make adjustments to the below list.

The pack list

Transport bag

Stage races are logistically much more complex that one-day races. Make sure to check the below information  with the race organizer before the race. Usually the stage races begin and end on different locations, so the organizer transports the luggage of all the participants between the stages. The organizer normally requires you to separate you luggage on the luggage/items that you need after every stage (e.g. energy bars, clothing) and the luggage/items that you only need after you complete the race (e.g. bike box, bags). The organizers of stage races usually provide a bag (transport bag), into which you put all the items that you need after every stage. The organizer only transports this bag from place to place during the stage race and you pick up this bag after the finish of every stage and drop it in on the morning before the stage start. The organizers only transport the luggage that you don’t need after every stage (e.g. bike box) directly from the place of start of the race to the place of finish and you don’t have access to this luggage after every stage. The transport bag is the only thing the organizers accept and transport between the stages so you have to pack accordingly. The transport bag dimensions are about 80x35x35cm (about 100 liters) so you have to make sure that all the items you intend to have available after the stage fit into the bag. I usually pack my stuff into the transport bags that I kept from the previous races. This way I ensure that I don’t take too many items with me and that I will be able to fit them into the transport bag provided by the organizer. Also, I do not take any items with me that I don’t need after every stage so the only post-race luggage that I leave with the organizer is the bag in which I packed all the items for the race (and the bike bag in case I traveled to the race with a plane). When I come to the race, I only have to take the items from my bag and put them into the transport bag provided by the organizer.

The list

Valuables

  • Passport (personal ID)
  • Credit card and min. 500 EUR (500 USD) in local currency (you’ll have problem using credit cards in many countries and in small towns)
  • Race registration documentation
  • (Race license)
  • Health insurance (card, documentation)
  • Smartphone, charger (travel adapter?) and headphones
  • GPS device, charger, HR strap
  • Kindle (or other e-reader)
  • Head lamp

Clothing

  • Bibs and jersey (ideally a new pair for each day of racing) – check weather forecast (sunny/rainy, temperatures?)
  • Bike socks (new pair for each day of racing)
  • (Bike gloves; I never use bike gloves. I guess it’s a triathlon habit.)
  • Wind-stopper west or arm warmers
  • One long-sleeved base layer shirt
  • Comfortable post-race clothing (shorts and t-shirts)
  • T-shirt for sleeping
  • Underwear and socks (new pair for each day of racing)
  • Beanie
  • Sweater/Jacket
  • Flip flops
  • (Sneakers; I only take plastic slippers)
  • Laundry bag (to keep the dirty stuff)

Toiletry bag

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Shower gel
  • Towel
  • Disinfectant, plasters and Bepanthen (or similar creme for healing blisters)
  • Aspirin
  • Cleaning (baby) wipes

Sleeping

  • Inflatable airbed, electric inflator
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow (I take a big pillow. It improves my sleep dramatically.)
  • Ear plugs

Food

  • Energy bars/gels (I usually consume 4 energy bars/stage)
  • Energy drink powder (to prepare drink before every stage)

Equipment

  • Bike (duh!)
  • Helmet
  • Bike-shoes
  • 2x 0,75l water bottle (Camelbak; when racing, I never carry a Camelbak)
  • Sunglasses
  • Chamois creme
  • Sunscreen
  • Bike lock (in case you’ll ride with your bike to a town after the stage)
  • (Floor) pump and shock adapter (to inflate front/rear shock)
  • Multi-tool with allen keys and chain tool
  • 2 tire levers
  • Duct tape
  • 3x CO2 cartridges and inflator
  • Worms (tire plugs)
  • Saddle bag (with repair kit)

Bike parts

The organizers usually provide all the common bike parts that you need and the prices are usually even lower than in bike stores. So I only recommend taking with you the bike parts, which you need during the race as part of your repair kit or bike parts that are specific to your bike and are not commonly available. I learned this the hard way, racing the Transpyr on my 20-years old MTB. I failed to foresee that the organizer might not be able to provide spare 26″ inner tubes and an adapter to inflate my old Rockshox SID fork.
  • Chain lube (+ cloth to remove the residual lube)
  • Spare inner tubes (I tape two spare inner tubes on the bike frame)
  • Spare brake pads
  • Chain link

Bike case/bag

If you’re travelling by plane, you’ll put your bike into a bike case or a bike bag. Because of the weight and dimension limitations of the carry-on luggage, I try to stuff as many items as possible into my bike case. However, be vary of the weight limitations of a single piece of luggage. In my experience, a single piece of luggage should not weight more than 30-35kg. I usually manage to cram all the above-listed items (except valuables) into the bike case. However, if’ I would be limited with space or weight of a bike case/bag, I would first put the following items into the bike case:
  • items that might be treated as liquid (and thus discarded) by the airport stuff. For example: energy gels, chain lube, shower gel.
  • items that might be treated as dangerous items (and thus discarded) by the airport stuff. For example: knife, bike lock, CO2 cartridges, hex keys.
That’s it. Now you only need to focus on race execution or tour planning. Before you go, please share this article with people who might also benefit from this pack list.

Written by marko