For those of you that are new to the NEC (And certain veteran riders with rocks on their mantles, desks, bookcases and the like) Here’s a guide for what you’ll want to make sure you have. As both a rider and volunteer, I’ve been doing this ride since Bill Clinton’s first term- I’ve tweaked the original list, and run it by dozens of riders over the years- All agreed it was pretty comprehensive. If it isn’t on this list, you probably don’t need it. REMEMBER: We only have to deal with your luggage on and off the truck- YOU have to get it on the truck in the mornings, and to your room in the afternoons- In some cases this will involve multiple stairs, and sprawling campuses.
Here’s what you’ll need to bring: (Don’t skip ANYTHING!)
- A trained body.
- A tuned bike. Get it into the shop for a checkup less than two weeks before the NEC. Really.
- A helmet- You can’t ride without one.
- Cycling shorts- (Same deal, OUCH!)
- If your bike has wheels with special spokes- Bring a few spares… They can be hard to find in the middle of nowhere. (Leave them with the Mechanics- You can’t get to your luggage during the day, neither can they, and neither can I!!)
- Cycling gloves 1 pr for 150 riders, 2 pr for 550 riders
- Cycling jerseys 1 for 150 riders, 2 or 3 for 550 riders- Remember- We’re going to GIVE you one at registration
- Cycling shoes, and shoes to wear around when you’re NOT on the bike. Flip-flops are Heaven on Earth after a day in cycling shoes
- Cycling socks- Or anything you find comfy
- Under-britches- You shouldn’t wear then under your cycling shorts, but I just really like saying “Under-Britches”.
- Two water bottles or 1 water bottle and a camel-back (In this case, more is GOOD!)
- Rain gear- We ride rain or shine
- Sunscreen- Because it NEVER rains on the NEC! Bertha WHO???
- Prescription meds/glasses/meter/strips
- Cash/credit/debit card- Lunch is YOUR responsibility, as well as souvenirs, Ice-cream, Post-cards for sponsors, water-slides, more Ice-cream, and any parts needed for repairs on your bike- Our mechanics donate their time and skill, not the parts
- Toiletries- Extra deodorant please!
- Bug spray- To repel the Maine state bird- the Mosquito, and it’s bastard cousin, the Green-head.
- ** SPECIAL NOTE** As it typically happens to ONE unlucky person a year- Your toiletry bag, shampoo, or any liquid, pump, or aerosol should be inside a SEALED zip-lock bag, in the case of leakage.
- Long pants/jeans- Likely unnecessary for 150 riders, 1 pair for 550 riders
- Shorts-1 pair for 150 riders, 2 pair for 550 riders
- Swim suit- NOT cutoffs
- T-shirt- 1 for 150 riders, 3 for 550 riders. I’m going to be throwing T-Shirts at you on a nightly basis, and again, we’re going to GIVE you one at registration.
- Sweater/sweatshirt/light jacket- in the event of a cool evening (Pick only one!)
- Sleeves/leggings- Mainly for the 7 day riders, while we’re in the mountains
- Camera- You’re going to want take lots of (REAL, not cell-phone) pics of the scenic vistas and Historic sites you’ll see
- Cell phone and Charger- Your cell phone isn’t any good if you forget the charger
- Laundry detergent/dryer sheets- Our overnight locations have laundry facilities on site, or nearby. I recommend powdered detergent, separated into a few single-load size sandwich bags.
- A trash bag and “Twist-tie“- So that your clean clothes won’t smell like your dirty clothes, and 2 or 3 “Gallon size” Ziploc bags for wet bathing suits, etc. if they didn’t fully dry overnight.
- A SMALL fan for the 1 night we’ll spend in a college dorm (Day 2) without A/C (Write your name on it, don’t put it in your luggage- That way, we won’t off-load them when they’re not needed… We won’t have to handle them, you won’t have to worry about them, and they’ll be safely stored in the truck.)
- Sandwich bags… Lots and lots of sandwich bags! You get all sweaty and oozy and icky during the day… (Seriously, I’ll wait until after you shower for my hug) and nobody else in the world wants your schmaltz all over them… Except maybe your mother, who pretends not to notice. You should use them to house your phone, ID, and cash… This works wonderfully to prevent grossing out bike shop clerks and sub shop cashiers, AND has the added bonus of protecting your stuff from sweat/rain… Your 73g, LMFAOPQRSD celly isn’t worth a damn if it’s water-logged.
Whenever possible, it’s practical to select gear that does “Double-duty“… A pair of swim trunks that might also be worn as a pair of shorts… A rain jacket that is also good for a cool morning or evening… Another great tip for cool morning riding is a piece of plastic sheeting, roughly 1’x2’ that you can place on your chest, under your jersey, to help protect your core from the cool morning wind. or a pair of “Surgical gloves“ for cold hands- These are admittedly leaning towards the weather extremes, but they‘re functional, practical, lightweight, compact, able to fit in your seat bag, and great in a pinch.
If you are one of those people that absolutely HAS to tinker with your bike, maybe change cassettes for flat days vs hilly days, or would absolutely DIE if you didn’t clean your bike, lube your chain, etc. after 75 miles in the saddle- Bring a SMALL tool-bag (An old “Clutch” purse for the ladies, smaller than your wife’s purse for the guys) and those will be stored separately in the Gear-Truck, and only be off-loaded by request.
If you play an instrument, PLEASE BRING IT! (No Drums, Sousaphones, Harps, Contrabassoons, Tympanis, or Pianos please) It’s always fun to kick around in the evenings with some music, and a jam session is ALWAYS fun! (Again, only off-loaded by request.) SPECIAL NOTE: a “Hard-case” is better than a “Gig-bag”.
Your NAME should be on your luggage to prevent confusion. We all learned this at the airport- “Many bags look alike”… You might know the little yellow string on your “Medium-sized, black American Tourister model #7714203” means it’s yours, but the OTHER person that also has a “Medium-sized, black American Tourister model #7714203” might not see the little yellow string.
We (Including you) do this because it’s a worthwhile cause, a recognized charitable event with responsible returns, a beautiful tour, likely the biggest challenge of it’s kind you can find, and FUN!
Not having what you need isn’t fun.
Lumping gear you don’t need isn’t fun either.
See you in July,