We love stage races, especially ones with a summer camp vibe like Trans-Sylvanian Epic or TransRockies. But they do present a bit of a packing challenge! Here, we’re breaking down things to consider as you prep for your race. One thing is for sure: Creating a packing list BEFORE you start packing is a life-saver. Make your list, check it twice, and remember, the first stage of the race isn’t the one that starts on the race course, it’s about getting there fully prepared!
Things to Consider for Stage Racing
These are things you can look up ahead of time regarding the area the race is in and in the race tech guide:
- Temperature: Always plan for 10 degrees F higher OR lower than what the range is
- Weather: Is there a chance of rain? Unless you’re heading to an area that has NO rainfall or is so hot that rain will be a welcome relief, probably smart to throw in a light raincoat just in case
- Food: Will there be buffet meals? Are there any non-negotiables for you in terms of race day breakfast and in-ride meals? If you’re vegan or vegetarian, make sure you have extra protein-rich options since most races will provide veg-friendly meals, but often won’t have a lot of protein sources (i.e pasta with red sauce and oatmeal). If you have food allergies (i.e gluten), make sure the race will provide options for you, and pack a few extra things just in case.
- Proximity to stores: Some stage races are within 15 minutes of a town, or even based out of a town, and there’s easy access to groceries and supplies like cortisone cream if you get a ton of mosquito bites on day 1, or shampoo if you forgot yours. Others are legitimately remote, or just have such packed schedules that getting into town to pick anything up will be nearly impossible. If that’s the case, check and triple check your packing list for everything!
- Bike supplies: Is there a mechanic with spare parts on site or will you need to BYO? It’s a good idea to bring spare tubes, sealant, tires, chain and cables if you’re able to, along with a good pump, multitool and your normal in-race mini-pump
- Mechanic skills: If you don’t know how to change a tire, fiddle with your gears to adjust them, or fix a flat, now is the time to learn… not during the race or after a stage when you’re exhausted! Even if there’s an on-site mechanic, having a bit of knowledge and ability to change a tire could save you hours of waiting for help post-race.
- Laundry situation: Will you be able to wash clothing mid-way through?
- Living situation: Tents? Communal cabins? Hotel rooms? Knowing exactly what the sleep setup is makes a huge difference in your packing strategy.
Packing Notes for Food:
- Usually at a stage race, I bring a box or two of bars that I like (so I am not reliant on race ) and then enough gels and mix to get through (many people use a gel flask, which is about 5 gels, and then put a mix in one of their bottles or packs) and then eat solid food as well. I typically just do gel/solids and straight water.
- I also bring food for after just in case they don’t have food or food isn’t set out fast enough (protein bars, packets of oatmeal, etc)
- Often, races have some ‘real food’ at the aid stations as well as one brand of gels/bars—check the race website to see what’s provided, and even if you don’t usually use that food, consider getting a few of those gels to test so you know if you tolerate it
- If you see potatoes at dinner (not sure how they are doing group dinners?) then it is normal to steal food from dinner/breakfast for during the day too (e.g. make a PB&J bagel at breakfast and wrap up)
- BYO own ziplocks/tinfoil for potatoes, bagels, etc.
- BYO coffee traveler. It’s nice to be able to snag hot coffee at breakfast and enjoy it without needing to gulp it down in the dining hall.
Packing Notes for Clothing:
- Pack for +/-10 degrees, you never know what might happen! And while 65F feels great in the afternoon, in the evening, it can feel quite chilly. And remember, the more tired you are from racing, the harder your body is working to keep you warm.
- Pack for comfort post-ride. You will likely feel bloated and sore by Day 3, so those baggy sweats and tshirts will be your best friend. Have at least one set of ultra-comfy, cozy stuff. Comfortable slippers or sandals if you’re at a camp where walking around in socks/barefoot isn’t possible are worth the space!
- If you can, pack a set of new shorts for each day, even if there is laundry service. You can re-wear jerseys, but clean shorts will save you from saddle sores. These are your top priority. New socks and sports bras each day feel great as well.
- Always bring flip flops. Between random chances to jump in a lake and the need to wash your bike/stand in communal showers, flip-flops are a must.
- MINIMIZE TOILETRIES. Soap, shampoo, toothbrush/paste, sunscreen. That’s it. That’s the list. Everything else is negotiable.
Packing Notes for Extras:
- It IS possible to over-pack—check out this post we did after TSEpic a few years back talking about what we wished we’d brought vs. what we could have left behind…. Hint: Try very hard to not be an ‘aspirational packer,’ especially if you’re flying and every pound counts)
- Depending on the sleeping situation, earplugs and a sleep mask may be quite helpful. Particular sleepers may even want to BYO pillow!
- Even if you’re in a town, a small first aid kit with your usual essentials will save you an hour spent trolling the pharmacy to get Pepto Bismol after a tough stage leaves you feeling nauseous
- Think about what you’ll want to do post-race. For introverts, having a book or a few movies downloaded to a phone or tablet can be a great way to sneak some quiet time, while extroverts may not bring anything and just be the life of the party!
- If you’re driving, consider packing a camp chair to pull out and sit on post-race, as well as a few extra towels. Wipes and a mini-weed sprayer can be super helpful for cleaning yourself and your bike off before you get your turn in the shower.
- If the situation includes communal living, bring a surge protector and become everyone’s BFF. Or at least a plug that can hold multiple USBs at once so you don’t use 8 outlets to charge lights, phone, GPS, etc.
- We like packing all of our gear in one massive duffel that’s organized inside with smaller mesh bags separating clothing and ‘stuff’, versus a bag with a ton of pockets everywhere. (See our full post on that here)
SAMPLE PACKING LIST:
On this list, this is what we recommended packing for a 5-day stage race where temps were generally warm enough for shorts/short sleeves, but riders needed to make sure they had enough for temps as low as 8C for riding and casual life!
- 4 tubes
- Regular pump
- Bike shoes
- 5 bike shorts
- 3-5 jerseys
- 3-5 Sports bras
- Sun sleeves/armwarmers
- Leg or knee warmers
- Rain jacket
- Winter riding jacket or puffy coat
- Hydration pack
- 5x Socks
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Bathing suit
- Casual clothing
- Flip flops
- Phone chargers/etc.
- Mesh or plastic bag for dirty laundry
- Nutrition – gels, snacks, etc.
- Coffee mug
- Water bottles