Remember B.L.A.T. Before Heading Out the Door

In the movie The Spy Who Shagged Me, Austin Powers recites, "spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch[...]". Before I go anywhere on my bike, I too have a similar checklist (sans testicles unless I am biking to a restaurant with my husband ;-)) However, my list is of the essentials I need for traveling around town on my bicycle. To help me remember, I created the acronym B.L.A.T. No...not bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato (although you could bring these along as well)!

The list could go on and on to include sunscreen and so forth but I tried to limit it to the essentials I would check and carry when riding that I wouldn't necessarily bring when driving.

1. "B" for Bottle of Water

While it may seem obvious to take along something to drink for hydration, I sometimes use the water to rinse my hands or dampen a towel. I carry water in a bottle that is squeezable which is easier to drink from using only one hand while riding my bike. And should I get chased by a dog (friendly or not), I could squirt water at it which is a more pet-friendly alternative to pepper spray.

2. "L" for Lights and Lock

I use rechargeable USB bike lights which I plug in overnight. A white light for the front of my bike and a red light for the back of my bike (just like white headlights and red taillights on a car). In the morning I strap them onto my bike and they are ready for the day.

Rarely is there a day when I do not have somewhere else to go between the office and home so I always carry a lock with me to secure my bike while I run errands. Some bike locks attach to the frame of the bicycle for convenience but I keep mine in my bag and so when I change bags, I remember to carry a lock.

Browse our shop for bicycle lights and locks hand-picked for you by Cuter Commuter!
Whether I will be away for a minute or for an hour, I always lock up my bike so it will be there when I get back.

Whether I will be away for a minute or for an hour, I always lock up my bike so it will be there when I get back.

3. "A" is for Air in the Tires

The ride will be much nicer if the tires of your bike are inflated. I always check the pressure of the tires on my bike and inflate to the recommended p.s.i. (or within 5 p.s.i.) before I go anywhere. Not having sufficient air in the tires could lead to a pinched tube and flat tire as a result of hitting a rock or pothole. The inner tube gets pinched between the rock and the wheel hard enough to puncture the tube. It's not fun to change a tube when you have somewhere you need to go under time constraints so it's worth the extra seconds to check and pump. Once the tires are properly inflated, squeeze them with your hands to get a sense of what that feels like and eventually you'll have a good sense of whether the tires need inflation or not just by squeezing them. When in doubt, pump and check the pressure on the gauge of the bicycle pump.

Shop our bicycle floor pumps to keep in the home or office and bicycle hand pumps for when you are on the road! These are the same pumps that we use before and during our commutes.

4. "T" is for Tubes and Tools

Just like you may have a spare tire, wrench and jack in the trunk of your car it is important to carry some tubes and tools when you travel by bike for repairs when you're on the road. My "flat tire kit" consists of:

  • One or two tubes
  • A bicycle hand pump
  • One or two C02 cartridges and adapter for the valve
  • One or two tire levers depending how hard it is to separate the tires from the rim of the wheels and to put it back on
  • A multi-tool (and a c-shaped wrench if your wheels are not quick-release)
  • A pair of latex gloves
  • A patch kit

When riding my road bike, I pare down to just one of each item and carry everything in an empty sunglasses cloth case and stash it in one of my back jersey pockets. For my daily commutes, I keep all of these items in a Brooks Challenge large leather tool bag that hangs from the seat of my bike for convenience. That way I always have spare tubes and tools wherever I go on my bike.

You'll find a few of our picks for bicycle pumps and multi-tools in the Cuter Commuter shop!
Keeping the spare tubes and tools in a bag with your bike ensures they'll go wherever you and your bike goes!!

Keeping the spare tubes and tools in a bag with your bike ensures they'll go wherever you and your bike goes!!

One last note, I also remember to carry a helmet and sunglasses for protection from the sun and road debris. I did not incorporate these items as part of the list because I absolutely feel naked without them so they're things I always grab before heading out the door.

Check out the selection of stylish Yakkay helmets and covers for your commutes!

How about you? What other items do you try to remember and carry with you on your bike?