Stage Racing Must Have Check List

With the Epic just around the corner and having just lead three, four day training camps on the actual 2014 route, James Thornhill-Fisher has listed some must have items, that in his extensive experience you’ll need to ensure you make it to the finish line.

The following list contains items that you must have with you during every ride and not just the EPIC. Many riders find it unnecessary to carry all of these items on their local rides, but I have found that it is on these rides where I end up helping a lot of unprepared riders.

  1. Hydration Pack – A hydration pack serves two very important purposes. Firstly it carries your water. Secondly it carries all of the items that I am about to list.

 Spare Tube

  1. Spare Tube – There is nothing worse than being on the side of the trail with a flat tyre and a long way to walk. Even if you are running tubeless tyres, a spare tube will get you home when you slash a sidewall.


  1. Tubeless Repair kit– If you are riding anywhere in Africa you are going to need this. We have “Kameel Dorings” and all sorts of sharp rocks and thorns so sooner or later something is going to cause a puncture that your sealant won’t seal. For those still riding with tubes… convert to tubeless before the Epic!
  1. Tyre Levers – Changing a flat tyre is much easier with the aid of some good tire levers. I have used Park Tools levers for years, but recently switched to the Maxxis brand, as they are stronger than the Park’s.
  1. CO2 Cartridge – A CO2 cartridge will make filling up an empty tyre/tube much faster on the side of the trail.
  1. Mini-Pump – They are light and small enough to fit in your pack and some even offer a pressure gauge as an option. I would recommend buying one that has the gauge so that you can be sure that your tyre is pumped to the right pressure.

 sram powerlink

  1. SRAM PowerLink – A SRAM PowerLink is a single connecting link that works with almost all of new chains. This item could possibly be one of the most important things to carry while riding. If you break a chain on the trail, this is going to be your best friend. It allows you to remove the bad link with your multi-tool and then reconnect the chain without having to press in the pins. NB: Make sure you have the correct one for your chain i.e. 9 speed, 10 speed or 11 speed.
  1. Nutrition – While you ride, you are burning loads of calories. You need to replenish these calories and nutrients during the ride. I eat real food mostly but do carry energy or protein bars just in-case. They are light enough to carry and are not heavy on your stomach. Another good alternative are gels. On longer rides, I always take a peanut butter and honey sandwich and a banana. (This is a whole subject on its own that I’ll cover in a later issue…)
  1. Spare Derailleur Hanger (Dropout) – Every recent bike in memory has the feature of a replaceable derailleur hanger. Should your rear derailleur hit a rock, the hanger is normally the first to give.
  1. ICEband – If you get in a serious crash on the trail, people need to know who you are, where you live and what medical aid you’re on. This information is also vital for hospital personnel. ICEdot ( makes a wrist band with a unique code, the first respondent SMS’s the code to a number and your medical details and emergency contacts are sent back by SMS to the first respondent.


  1. Multi-Tool This “do-it-all” tool has almost everything you need for a trail side repair. I use the Crank Brothers Multi-19 Tool. Be sure to pick up one that fits all the important stuff (i.e. if you have SRAM components they do not use allen keys they use torx tips!) If you have the incorrect tool you’re just carrying dead weight.
  1. First Aid Kit – This one is pretty self-explanatory. It is not if… it’s when you or someone you are riding with crashes, it is good to have a small first aid kit available to clean everything up.
  1. Toilet Paper/White gold – This can be a life saver during a trail side nature break, but it can also be used to wipe off anything.

 Space Blanket

  1. Space Blanket It’s flat, it’s cheap and it may just save your life. Made of heat-reflective thin plastic sheeting. It reduces the heat loss occurring due to thermal radiation, water evaporation from perspiration or blood loss.
  1. Spare gear cableThis takes up no space and only costs R20.
  1.  Electrolyte Sachets – Rehidrat electrolyte sachets can help prevent cramping and fatigue.
  1. Money – Always have some cash with you, you may need to buy food, pay for a ride home or buy something to fix your bike.
  1. Cell Phone – Do I need to elaborate?
  1. A couple of Ziplock bags To keep things dry, like your phone or toilet paper or just to store the various items in to make them easy to find in a hurry.

I consider everything on this list a must have to make sure my rides go off without a hitch. It looks like a lot on paper, but the overall weight really isn’t a lot once you get loaded up.

Trailside Repair Course:

If you’re not confident you’ll be able to fix your bike while on a ride book a trailside repair course with James. He’ll teach you to replace brake pads, fix tubeless punctures and convert your bike to a single speed should all else fail. For more info go to or call your LBS many shops, like Freewheel Cycology offer repair courses in their workshops.

More about James Thornhill-Fisher:

James Thornhill-Fisher, the MTB Guru, has over 25 years of MTB experience and has ridden over 60 000km in the last 5 years, leading numerous Cape Epic training camps along the way. You can book a one-on-one skills session or repair course by going to

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.