Packing for the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride


Wheel Women‘s Tina McCarthy looks at the essentials you need for your week in another world. 


I was taking a shower on the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride when I realised that I’d got myself into a slippery situation. I just wanted to sink into the silvery, stainless steel channel and get washed away with the bubbles, unseen. I had forgotten to pack a towel and soap, but worse still, I had been so carefree on entering the shower cubicle that I had thrown my clothes bag onto the overhead shower shelf, with no way of now reaching it in the cubicles built for Goliath!

However, after a few years of travelling as an adult support rider with Suzanne Cory High School, I reckon I have this packing caper absolutely sorted—and trust me, this is a school for highly able students so there is a great deal of science in this. We’ve learned a few tricks—like attaching a long string to your the clothes bag in order to yank it after you’ve cast it to the shower shelf in the heavens—and compiled a list of what to pack (in addition to the essentials listed in the ride guide) to get the most out of your holiday.

Don’t leave home without…

  • Jelly beans: We keep these stored in a small and lovingly hand sewn fabric pouch because storing jelly beans in the jersey pocket in the heat of the day is like finding your three-year-old has melted the crayons in the microwave—there is no way of knowing what it really is, other than toxic!
  • Tiny liquid hand wash container: Keep in the saddle bag—we all like a clean bike rider right? This will help make sure your sandwiches are not coated in grease, and hygiene is very important on the ride.
  • Sandwich bags: Having ditched the shoe covers for chess sets, our students wrapped their feet in plastic bags to help stay dry in the great downpour of 2013. Cycling shoe covers work well too.
  • Solar phone chargers: Our camp site usually looks like the Mojave Desert Solar array, but our phones stay charged and every other school is jealous!
  • Make-up wipes: These aren’t just great for your face; they’re also handy for removing grease from everything—clothes, hair, hands and that precious bike frame!
  • The musette: If you want to look like a pro in the line up, then best to source that hard to find souvenir bag from the 1998 Giro to hold your eating utensils, your washing up brush and tea towel.
  • Personal washing up brush: Nothing says you’re a pro rider like matching accessories, so don’t skimp on the washing up brush. Though brushes are supplied at the camp site, in the name of personal hygiene, we recommend our students carry their own washing brushes to use only on their eating utensils.
  • Duct tape: I don’t actually know why we include this on our list, but one of our team is an aerospace engineer—he doesn’t say much, so I guess it is just in case he wants to construct low flying space craft from punctured tubes and CO2 cannisters.*
  • Needle and thread: Have you ever been riding behind that person with the creeping seam split in the rear of their knicks? It’s not pretty. Offer them your needle and thread at the next rest stop.
  • Small make-up mirror: Again, if you’re vertically challenged like me, you don’t have a chance in hell of using the mirrors in the toilets, not unless you take a step ladder in with you.
  • Pegs: Very useful for pegging wet knicks up to dry.
  • Insect repellent: Nothing says pain more than a cyclist’s trim, hairless legs than trim, hairless legs covered in big, red, throbbing mozzie bites.
  • Torch: Find the toilets in the dark with ease (it’s lights out at 10pm)!
  • Helmet: It’s amazing how many people forget theirs.
  • Ribbons: We tag our bags with ribbons in the school colours. Lucky we have a colour combo straight from the ’70s because we always get the orange and lime green ribbon on discount. It makes the bags easy to find when they come off the luggage trucks.
  • Butt cream: No need for lengthy discussion here, just get some and spare yourself the pain of saddle sores (available at bike shops).

* Our aerospace engineer assures me that he can repair tent poles and torn tent fabric with duct tape—now that’s a useful team member!

In addition to these handy items, we also provide our students with a list of essentials.

Suzanne Cory High School 2014 RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride Packing List 

Camping Equipment /Riding Equipment
• Tent (pop up ones are great after a long day riding)
• Sleeping mat
• Three leg stool (optional)
• Small tarp (to place beneath your tent)
• Torch
• Dinner plate and cutlery
• Cup
• Rubbish bags (for packing your gear inside your luggage to keep everything dry—very important)
• Tent pegs
• Sleeping bag
• Micro-fibre towel
• Tea towel
• Laundry bag
• Washing powder (small amount)
• small roll of toilet paper

Bike gear

• Helmet
• Gloves
• Bike shoes (and bike shoe covers—very useful for keeping shoes dry)
• Sun glasses (very important to ward off UV exposure, glare, insects and dust)
• Water bottles x2 (essential)
• Bike (duh!)
• Lights & Batteries (Lights are compulsory for all riders-no exceptions)
• Pump
• Toolkit including multi-tool, tyre levers, puncture repair kit)
• Spare tubes (correct size for your tyres)
• Bike lock


• Underwear and socks
• PJs (warm)
• Togs/goggles/cap
• Knicks (x3)
• Jerseys
• Arm/leg warmers
• Vest/jacket (riding)
• Trackpants/trousers
• Tshirts
• Warm jacket
• Gloves
• Spray jacket
• Cap/sunhat
• Thongs
• Runners (something different from your riding shoes)
• Toiletries including sanitising hand wash
• Mobile phone
• First aid kit to include items such as:
—Asthma Spray
—Butt cream
—Bug spray
—Eye drops

Finally, it’s a good idea to bring some money for personal spending and any bike repairs which may be required (not every town has an ATM). You might also consider diarrhoea tablets, Hydralyte sachets (useful if very hot and dehydration or cramps occur), clothes washing powder or soap and pegs.

Pack well, pack small and see you on the ride!

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One thought on “9”

  1. Thank you so much! I’ve been searching online for a concise ‘what to pack’ list. This is excellent. And I’m relieved to find that I’m more than 90% sorted. 😀

  2. Besides the ultra important items of bike, tent, rain jacket and sunscreen, also don’t forget to bring your documents. You may need to prove who you are!! Also, take the rain jacket and suncreen on EVERY ride, no matter what the weather. (This will be my eleventh GVBR).

  3. Instead of / as well as duct tape I also pack a small roll of sticky tape. Duct tape stretches and sticky tape does not.
    Sticky tape can hold together broken tent poles better than duct tape and recently I even managed to hold together a split inner tube under 80 PSI pressure. The tape HELD…
    Plus a few miscellaneous cable ties.
    A small alloy meat hammer for getting tent pegs into hard ground. Amazing the queue of people who want to borrow my stuff when things get difficult.
    But then I was the one who even carried a spare bottom bracket and crank removal tool on my first ride.
    That was overkill.

  4. We use the large size ziplock sandwich bags and pack groups of clothes in them e.g. knicks and a jersey, socks. You then squeeze out the air. It’s easy to find your gear/clothes, keeps them waterproof and reduces your bag size.

  5. Very good blog you have here but I was curious about if you
    knew of any discussion boards that cover the same
    topics talked about in this article? I’d really love to be a part of community where
    I can get suggestions from other experienced people that share the same interest.
    If you have any recommendations, please let me know.
    Appreciate it!

  6. i used this packing list as the basis for the (my first)
    GVBR … after that all i had to do was the ride. the list
    was spot on. thanks heaps.


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