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6 Things You Should Never Keep on Your Bike

Jane was disoriented. She hadn’t been knocked out, but her memory was a little foggy. Not even an hour ago, she was riding her bike with her girlfriends, and there had been a wreck. She’d hit her head.

She was OK, really. But her friends had called an ambulance just to be safe. So, here she was in the ER — but things were a little more complicated than they needed to be. Not only was Jane a bit fuzzy about what had happened, but she didn’t have anything she needed to check into the hospital: no ID, no insurance card, not even a phone on hand. 

Meanwhile, Jane’s husband, Tom, was just finishing his part of the ride with the guys. When the girls showed up at the meeting spot without Jane, he was worried. They explained what had happened, and he immediately tried to call his wife. No luck — just the voicemail. He had no idea which hospital Jane had been taken to and no way to get in touch with her.

Well, that sounds like a mess, doesn’t it? This unfortunate situation actually happened to two friends of longtime cycling Coach Darryl MacKenzie (though their real names aren’t Jane and Tom). Ever since, he’s been meticulous about making sure he doesn’t find himself in a similar situation.

He’s also eager to help other cyclists avoid it with proper knowledge about carrying stuff on a bike. That’s why he shared with us the six things you should never store on your bike.

An Avoidable Situation

The problem with Jane and Tom was that everything Jane needed to avoid this awkward mess was on her bike — and her bike wasn’t with her anymore. When they picked her up, the emergency response crew followed standard protocol. Jane went in the ambulance, and her bike went in the firetruck. They locked it up at the station, where it couldn’t be picked up until Monday (this all happened on a Saturday).

That meant all of Jane’s essentials were in her cycling bag, locked up with the bicycle at the fire station. When Tom called, Jane’s phone was ringing in a place where no one could answer it.

The good news is that Tom and Jane eventually reconnected, and no serious harm came from the situation. But the moral of the story is that they could have avoided some stress and headaches if they’d been better prepared. 

“People get in their habits of putting things where they find it appropriate to put them,” says Coach Darryl. He notes that it’s especially common for many newer cyclists to think of their bike comparably to their car. Since they take their keys, phone and wallet out and stow them in the center console in the car, they end up doing something similar while on a bike ride. 

Like all other things, Darryl emphasizes approaching this more as a “thinking cyclist.” Consider the implications of what you’re doing, then change your habits to better set yourself up for success.

6 Things That Don’t Go on Your Bike

So how does the “thinking cyclist approach” this problem? With one simple mantra:

As Darryl puts it, If it belongs to the bike, store it on the bike. If it belongs to you, store it on you.”

That means your bike tools, spare tubes and anything else for your bike can go in your cycling bag. But there are six things you never want to put in there. Instead, these six should stay with you in your jersey pockets

Your Cell Phone

This is probably the most important thing to keep on you when you ride. You can see how Jane’s situation would have gone quite differently if she’d at least had her phone!

In particular, this is one place where cyclists shouldn’t treat their bike like their car. For example, many riders like to mount their smartphone on their handlebars and use it to navigate. But what happens if you’re separated from your bike? What if you crash and break your phone? Not to mention that using your phone as a nav system drains the battery faster. You don’t want to be caught far from home with a bike problem and no phone.

Consider how to best go about carrying tech stuff on a bike. Keep a separate navigational computer like a Garmin on your bike, and keep your phone in your jersey pocket.

Your Keys

Here’s another thing you definitely don’t want to get separated from on a ride. If you can’t get into your car or your house, you’re not going to be a happy cyclist.

Darryl even recommends keeping your keys in a Ziplock bag with all of these other items so that when you get one out, you have to get them all out. That way, you won’t accidentally drop your keys while reaching for your wallet. Darryl did that once, losing $300 worth of keys and having to ask a neighbor to retrieve his spare key and bring it to him.

Your Wallet

Speaking of your wallet — you never know when you’ll need your credit card on a ride. Don’t stop and wait in line at a cafe and get all the way to the front, only to realize you left your wallet outside on the bike (yep, Darryl has done that, too).

Your ID

These last few items are traditionally in your wallet already, but they’re important enough that they’re worth mentioning separately here. Case in point: Jane trying to check into the hospital with no ID complicated things a bit. Had she been unconscious, she would have truly been Jane Doe.

Health Insurance Card

This is the other card you want to make sure you have if you land in the hospital. To be sure you can check in smoothly with no issues, keep your insurance card in your wallet — and not on your bike.


Finally, it’s worth noting that cash is still a valuable tool to have while riding a bike, even in today’s digital economy. You never know when you might need tangible money, especially if you’re in an urgent situation. Darryl always keeps a little with him on rides just in case.

The Bottom Line

Thinking cyclists never leave for a ride without these items. And they never put them anywhere but in their jersey pockets when they’re riding. Otherwise, they can easily end up like Jane and Tom. Next time you ride, be sure you have them all.


Look for more insights from Coach Darryl over at his website.

Photo by Jay Miller on Unsplash