UC Bike Ride
Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
corn fields

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Allison's Gear Guide for the Illini 4000

Gear is really important. Gear is not cheap. Shelling out the extra moolah for a few critical items will go a long way. Here’s some stuff I had success with last summer and would like to recommend you. I bought A LOT of stuff off ebay. Right now (April) is a really great time to buy clearance cycling gear that is from last season. Many cycling retailers sell their clearance goods on ebay. I’ve had great success finding new items like jerseys, shorts, jacket, and helmet from reputable cycling retailers.
Please keep in mind this is just a guide to what worked for ME. It doesn’t mean it will work for you or that it’s the only way to go. When I joined the team last year I was completely clueless on what to buy, and I’ve learned a lot. I also had a job so I could afford to splurge on some select items (i.e. shorts, helmet, gloves). Jon, Nick, Sean, and Keith may have very different ideas about what’s best for THEM. Get as much advice as you need.
Please email me at if you have ANY questions whatsoever about gear, training for the ride, travel, or just want to say hi.
Also, check out my blog from the trip at:
IMPORTANT -- If you’re not prepared to wear shorts, jerseys, or socks more than once this may not be the best trip for you. Be prepared to go days with out showering (10 was the most days I went without a shower last summer). Be prepared to wear dirty clothes. It will not kill you. You have no one to impress on this trip. Everyone else will be dirty and wearing the same clothes as well. Don’t worry about it. Also, if you’re a chick, get used to peeing outside. This is a skill that will come in handy.
Helmet -- I use the Bell Sweep R (road) helmet. Picked this out originally because I liked the spiral-type things in the back and it was in my price range of what I wanted to spend on a helmet. You will be wearing this for hours and hours every day. A helmet will also protect your noggin in a crash. I had 2 big falls during training and the ride, this helmet protected me! Wear your helmet at all times. This is a team rule. Even if you are riding 1 block from the church you’re staying at to the Laundromat down the street, HELMET REQUIRED AT ALL TIMES. Don’t get in trouble for violating a basic safety rule designed to protect you.
Cycling shorts -- I had 2 quality pairs of Pearl Izumi shorts that were great the whole trip. Buy the best pair you can afford. I don’t how to tactfully say this, but don’t wear underwear under your cycling shorts. In a decent pair of cycling shorts, the chamois (the pad sewn into the crotch of cycling shorts) has antimicrobrial technology. Here’s what Team Estrogen’s beginner’s gear guide had to say on the matter: “The only thing you wear under cycling shorts is your birthday suit. Underwear seams and elastic leg openings can chafe sensitive crotch-area tissue. Besides which, underwear is usually made of cotton, which retains moisture and defeats the purpose of having a moisture-wicking chamois.” (
Gloves – I splurged on a nice pair of PI gloves. Love ‘em and still use them. Actually, I still use everything I bought for the trip except my helmet which cracked so had to be tossed.
Jacket – I was able to get a decent jacket for about $45. Things to consider when buying a jacket: Are the sleeves removable? Is it waterproof? Does it breathe well? I highly recommend getting a cycling or athletic specific jacket. You need breathability! My jacket had removable sleeves which was really helpful. On cold mornings I’d start with my jacket on and remove layers as the day got warmer. It was NOT waterproof, which definitely had an impact on me when we rode through the rain (i.e. I got soaked). You will be riding in the rain presuming lightning is not too dangerous. I got a Pearl Izumi vagabond model jacket on clearance from Ebay.
Comfy shorts – I highly recommend bringing a pair of lounge shorts. You will be cycling hard during the day and will want something comfy to wear when you finish up. Alex and I both had a pair of shorts like these and were quite pleased with them.
Cycling shoes and pedals -- Get some! I bought my bike off craigslist and my seller included her old pedals and shoes which happened to fit me and were in great condition. They were mountain shoes without protruding cleats. I recommend getting mountain shoes because there were issues with people wearing their cleats out last year.
Sleeping bag – Jon and Co. recommended this one to us so that’s what I got. I don’t remember it costing so much last year… Main point: Get one that is small and will not take up much space. This one’s great because it comes with its own compression sack and is very tiny (when packed up) but warm and comfy.
Pillow – Get something that won’t take up a lot of space. This pillow also has a compression sack which makes it about the size of a fist when packed. I recommend this one.
Headlamp – This is a must have! You will be getting ready in the dark and it’s great to have use of your hands. Highly recommend getting a head lamp rather than a flashlight. I have a Petzl headlamp and it’s super.
Sleeping pad – Jon recommended the ThermaRest ridge rest to us last year. It was ok. Looks like this.
Waterproof sack – Mark had this neat little waterproof sack made for taking on kayak or canoe trips. It came in really handy to put your cell phone in while riding in the rain. This would also be great to put your wallet in and keep it in the back pocket of your jersey. I just used a ziplock bag but it got a lot of holes in it, etc. and was not very durable.
Allison’s Awesome Packing List -- I was able to fit this all in a backpack (except helmet and whatever I was wearing that day) -- and not one of those ultra-huge camping backpacks either.

1 helmet
1 pair of gloves
1 pair of sunglasses
1 cycling jacket
1 pair cycling shoes
2 pairs cycling shorts
3 jerseys
2 sports bras
3 pairs cycling socks
1 tank top
1 ultra thin t-shirt (to wear over tank top)
1 swimsuit
1 pair jeans
1 t-shirt (Illini 4000 shirt)
1 hooded sweatshirt
1 pair comfy shorts
3 pairs of underwear
3 headbands (keep bangs out of my face and secure under helmet)
Plenty of hair bands

Toiletries – Find a partner and double up! Saves you and the team precious space...
1 bar solid shampoo (solid shampoo is awesome! No spills!)
1 bar of soap
Small hair brush
Sport sunscreen
Chamois butter -

Bike stuff
Water bottles (2)
Spare tube(s)
Pump (either frame mountable or small enough to go in your pocket)
Tire levers (2 or 3 should do)
Any specialized tools for your bike

Sleeping bag
Sleeping pad
Small pillow
Small waterproof sack
Identification with emergency contact information

Camera (with lots of memory + battery charger)

Note: Something I bought for the trip and NEVER used was a long sleeve Under Armor shirt. It just took up a lot of space. It may seem cold, but once you start pedaling you’ll warm up. My light jacket sufficed for extra clothing in the mornings. Use your own judgment.

Miscellaneous Stuff
Mailing List
Visit the UC Bike Ride Google Group page to sign up for the ride announcement mailing list.
Maps and things
Routes on other sites
Maps and Cue sheets
Champaign County Maps
Miscellaneous Stuff

Latest Urbana, Illinois, weather
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Weather Underground radar
NWS weather for UC area

Please be safe, follow the rules and have a good ride!