The Oh-Crap! Sack

How many times have you left the house without tools or tubes because you’re just going on a “quick ride” only to find yourself in imminent danger of walking home, or calling for a ride share vehicle for a sag? For me it is far more times than I can remember, let alone admit. No matter how innocuous the ride may seem, anything can happen out there on the road and being prepared at all times is more than just a Scouting mantra, it’s the way to successfully mitigate an Oh Crap! situation.

How does one prepare for an Oh Crap situation? The first step is to do preventive maintenance. Make sure your tires are inflated to the desired pressure, clean and lube your chain, check that your handlebars, saddles, and cranksets are not ready to fall off. Do a good walk around every once in a while. The OTHER first step is getting an annual tune-up by a trained professional. This means loading up your whip and taking it to your LBS. Truth be told, no matter how competent YOU feel about your wrenching skills, there is no substitute for a professional tune up/annual maintenance. In fact, it’s mid March so if you haven’t taken advantage of the winter months to get your bike to the shop you may end up facing the long lead times of spring. Remember this for next winter and you can help keep your favorite mechanic wrenching instead of cleaning out the back storage room. True story. The third first step is to make what I like to call an “Oh Crap! Sack.”

The basic Oh Crap! Sack is made up of tools and items that will get your butt out of a bicycle related jam. Remember Sack>Sag.

  • Multi-tool – bike-specific all-in-one tools from Crank Brothers are my choice for on-the-road bike repairs. You can also get kits that fit inside your handlebars from Wolf Tooth Components, which saves space in a bag
  • Spare tube – I can’t stress this enough: MAKE SURE IT’S THE CORRECT SIZE FOR THE BIKE YOU ARE RIDING. I once was stranded in middle-of-nowhere gravel boondocks with a flat on a 29″ wheel Fargo with 650b tubes. Talk about Oh Crap!
  • Patch kit
  • Tire Levers
  • CO2 cartridges/Adapter – the fastest way to get back on the road when you flat out. Most of the time.
  • Electrical Tape – A small roll of black (or whatever color you prefer) electrical tape can solve anything from bike issues to wardrobe gaffs.
  • Presta to Shrader valve adapter – These are little brass adapters that screw on to your presta valves in the case that you need to use a gas station pump or some other such situation.
  • This is starting to seem like a lot of stuff.
  • First aid – even if it’s just a few band aids or some gauze you can use with your included tape to make a bandage, you need to be able to cover a wound.
  • Food – you should always carry some sort of protein bar or “bonk breaker” type item. It’s often easier to face down an Oh Sh!t situation with a little snack. Stick with high-protein low-sugar solid food items, and stay away from energy gels.

Where does all this stuff all go? The idea is to keep everything handily in one place, so I advise getting a small waterproof roll-top stuff sack that can be tossed in a messenger bag, hip pack, or frame/seat/handlebar bag. There are also small seat bags that are dedicated dry bag holders that do a great job. In the past I have used an Arkel waterproof seat bag system to transfer my Oh Crap! items from bike to bike, it works quite well.

This little bag served me well for years

What do you put in your Oh Crap! Sack? Drop some comments and lets have a conversation.


Published by wiz

Nomadic Wizard, First of Their Name, Two-Wheeled Tourer of Earthen Worlds, Destroyer of Equipment, Salty of Word. Vicariously ride through the mountains and deserts of this mortal realm via the scritch-scratching of my modern-day petroglyphics.

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