Bike adventures? Here's your essential packing list.

What kind of traveler are you? We all have friends who are organized. They know exactly what to pack, what to leave, and have it all laid out in plenty of time. But we can't all be one of those people. Despite our best efforts, some of us are last-minute scramblers. Necessities are still in the dryer when it's time to roll out; sunglasses are nowhere to be found as our organized friend pulls into the driveway. We almost always forget something. It’s one thing if you’re going to an all-inclusive resort, but if you’re planning a bike trip—that’s often the wrong way to start your vacation.

In Iowa, we have RAGBRAI—which stands for the (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. It’s a week-long bike ride across the state with camping in each overnight town. And this year, it’s a BIG year! It’s the 50th anniversary of the ride. It can be done supported or unsupported, but many people have a bus that follows them from town to town with their belongings. Most people ride the entire distance. Plenty of folks ride a couple of days here or there.

And packing for the ride? Sometimes that is more daunting than the long miles you will put in. With some help from our [organized] friends (thanks, Karolyn Z. ☺) and our cycling teammates, here is a great starting place as you consider what you might want to bring on your biking adventures. (Side note: if you are a bagger—or traveling self-contained on your bicycle for your entire vacation—you will edit this list considerably.)

3 Days Before Departure: Prepare

  • Check bike bag and buy necessary items: (tubes, air canisters or pump, tire lever, multitool kit)
  • Headlight and Taillight
  • Get cash
  • Get a pedicure ☺

2 Days Before Departure: Pack

  • Camping Gear:
    • Tent
    • Sleeping pad
    • two sheets
    • Sleeping bag
    • Tarp
    • Portable battery-operated fan/light
    • Extra batteries
  • Street Clothes & Cycling Gear 
    • Arm warmers
    • Lightweight rain jacket
    • Gloves
    • Sleeping clothes
    • one kit or bike outfit for each riding day (jersey or tank and shorts)
    • one "street" clothes outfit for each day off the bike
  • Bag for Laundry
  • Small packets of laundry soap if planning to wash by hand
  • Sandals (2 or 3 pairs)
  • two towels
  • Toiletries (trial size) 
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste 
  • Face soap, toner, moisturizer 
  • Cotton balls, disposable washcloths
  • Body wash, shampoo, conditioner, razor
  • Lotion, hair gel, small blow dryer (optional)
  • Make-up-powder, small bronzer, eyeliner, Chapstick, lipstick, mascara
  • Sunscreen
  • Rx (and OTC antihistamine like Benadryl)
  • Bike Extras
    • Butt butter/chamois cream
    • Bike helmet
    • Bike shoes
    • Gatorade powder
    • ID, debit card, money
    • Insurance card
    • Cell phone and charger
    • Sunglasses/case
    • Sunscreen, lip balm with sunscreen, Kleenex
    • Advil, anti-bacterial hand gel, band-aids
    • Bike wallet 
    • small zipper plastic bags to keep smartphone and wallet dry
    • Snack bags/quick food stored in a jersey pocket
And as they say, happy trails! What would you add to this list? 

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