Packing for a Cycling Trip

SILCA athlete Kelly Catale of Team KellCat Racing recently traveled across the pond to Scotland for the 2023 UCI Marathon Mountain Bike World Championship race in Tweed Valley and placed 29th in the Elite Women’s field. Now in her sixth season as an elite mountain bike racer, Kelly’s travels have taught her a thing or two about being prepared, and she shared her packing list for big trips like this one.

MTB Racing
Photo: Richard Howes Photography

Packing for any international trip can be stressful, but packing for an international race trip is a whole different beast. Every athlete has idiosyncrasies, and certainly one of mine is the over-preparedness nature with which I pack for race trips. I stand firmly by the madness of my methods, though, especially after several years of international race travel.


Many of my idiosyncratic packing habits are related to food. Everyone who knows me well will find this unsurprising, given my propensity for continuous snacking and precise training/racing nutrition.


Joe and I typically rent homes with full kitchens that enable us to cook all of our meals. This helps us save money while also giving me full control over my diet when we travel. However, it also means that we need to have the tools required to cook (or we have to buy them), and we’ve found many Airbnb kitchens lacking in essentials or the existing tools are so worn out they are nearly unsafe / unusable. For example, on multiple occasions we have purchased some sort of pan for cooking pancakes, a set of salt & pepper, or a sharp knife just so we can actually cut our food. We now travel with various cooking supplies that help us maintain a diet that is consistent with, or close to, our diet at home. These include:

  • Sauté pan with lid (these are very versatile and can be used for cooking pancakes, eggs, meats, or veggies; you can find a relatively inexpensive, lightweight pan at a department store)
  • Flexible plastic cutting board
  • Salt & pepper
  • Meat thermometer
  • Spatula
  • Sharp cooking knife (we always pack this in one of the bike bags – not a carry-on!)

First thing I did when we got to our rental in Scotland was cook breakfast (using the sauté pan we packed), of course! 

My top priority after we unpack our rental car is a visit to the local grocery store. This first chore is inevitably an adventure, as we’ve learned that foreign grocery stores carry far fewer items than their US equivalents; imagine comparing Disney World to a local playground. During our first trip to Europe together in 2021 to a small city in Eastern France, Joe and I learned that nearly every grocery store locks their shopping carts together to avoid cart theft. The locking mechanism requires a coin to unlock, which we learned only after an old man watched us fail to retrieve a cart for at least ten minutes. He gave us a plastic Lidl shopping cart unlocking coin, which has proven successful at unlocking shopping carts at stores all across Europe. I carry the original Lidl coin in my wallet at all times, to avoid a grocery emergency, which Joe knows is one of the worst kinds of emergency when we’re traveling.

Cooking breakfast

Also related to my travel diet, I know what works well for me for pre-ride fueling. I travel with Kodiak Cakes Protein Pancake Mix for race morning, and a small bottle of New England pure maple syrup. Yes, I know I can buy maple syrup in Europe, but my nerves make eating a struggle on race day, so I try to avoid anything new or unpleasant when it comes to my race day breakfast. For some background, during the World Championships in Italy in 2021, I was thrilled to find “Pure Canadian Maple Syrup” at a local grocery store, only to discover on race morning that it tasted like thick corn syrup. I was so disgusted I couldn’t finish my breakfast, which is incredibly bad before an endurance race that requires sufficient fuel. My diet is heavy in protein, which can be challenging to maintain while traveling, so I also bring plenty of Kodiak Cakes Instant Protein Oatmeal, which takes mere minutes to cook. This oatmeal not only makes a quick breakfast but also a quick afternoon snack if I’m looking for something with protein. I bring a plastic measuring cup to help with making oatmeal, coffee, or other kitchen tasks. That measuring cup has been surprisingly useful, especially because many rental kitchens lack a full set of measuring cups, if they have any at all.

Kodiak Cakes
Protein packed oatmeal, pancakes, and just enough New England pure maple syrup for a solid race day breakfast!

bottle brush, which is notably lightweight and can be shoved easily into a suitcase between layers of clothing, helps keep all of my bottles clean.

When it comes to bike supplies and gear, many notable packing items are related to riding footwear. It’s no secret that any racing shoe is susceptible to mishaps, especially on technical and rocky terrain. I always bring a spare set of riding shoes in case of a catastrophic shoe failure while training or for a quick shoe swap in the middle of a race. If something happens while I’m training, we also pack BOA dial replacement kits, so I can repair the most vulnerable part of my shoes before race day. And while I speak of footwear, my feet tend to run cold even in mild weather, so I bring toe warmers that I can slip into my shoes for riding (or for Joe to use while he’s standing at the aid zones all day!). If we’re traveling to a particularly wet climate (e.g., Scotland), I pack newsprint or packing paper, to stuff into wet shoes and accelerate drying. 

For longer trips, we will bring laundry detergent pods or soap for hand washing clothes. The hope is that we will have access to a washing machine so we can wash clothes mid-trip to help reduce the amount of clothes we need to pack. If not, we also travel with soap we can use for hand washing clothes in a bowl, sink, or tub – just like the old days before washing machines.

I’m especially grateful that my husband, Joe, is a proficient mechanic. He can perform nearly any service on my bike, which helps reduce pressure to find a bike shop if something goes wrong during the trip. Joe brings the tools he needs to perform anticipated services, such as brake bleeds or component servicing / replacement. His favorite travel tools are the SILCA Viaggio Travel Pump, which is a game-changer for us because it is so accurate and lightweight. He also highly recommends a mini torque wrench

Joe also spoils me by cleaning my bike after muddy rides and before race day. He loves the SILCA Gear Wipes because they make my bike shine (at least before I start riding it through mud!). 

spare kit

SILCA Gear Wipes are one of Joe’s favorite travel items for bike races. I know my bike is ready to go when I can smell the refreshing scent of Gear Wipes.


We always travel with a relatively basic first aid kit in case I crash while riding or racing. The kit helps me clean and dress simple wounds as a preliminary measure immediately after the crash, rather than trying to find a pharmacy while still bleeding.

Lastly, I don’t go anywhere without a roll of masking tape, which has proven its utility nearly every trip. I use it to label my bottles, write notes to myself on my bike for race day, or to close open bags of food if they aren’t resealable.

Masking tape notes to myself for race day.

With suitcases weighing in at approximately 50 pounds per piece, two bike bags about 50 pounds each, and multiple carry-ons, Joe and I travel with nearly 250 pounds of stuff from our home. One might call that excessive; I call it prepared.

Here’s a comprehensive packing list for our race trips that require flying:

Luggage / bags:

  • Bike bag (x2 - one for the bike, one for spare wheel set and tools)
  • Suitcase (x2 - one for each of us)
  • Backpack (x2 - one for each of us)
  • Thule bike duffel


  • Race day kit (jersey, bibs, socks, sports bra)
  • Full race day backup kit
  • Rain jacket for riding
  • Rain jacket for non-bike use
  • Thermal Jacket
  • Wind Jacket
  • Leg warmers
  • Arm warmers
  • Wind Vest
  • Riding knickers (¾ pants)
  • Waterproof riding pants
  • Heavy wool socks
  • Lightweight socks
  • Team KellCat podium / tech shirt
  • Team KellCat puffy jacket & wool jacket
  • Hats
  • Underwear
  • Pajamas
  • Leisure wear (jeans, sweaters, shorts, t-shirts, etc)
  • Bathing suit
  • Slippers
  • Jewelry, including my Enso silicone ring for racing/riding

Bike Gear:

  • Bike with wheels & tires (of course!)
  • Spare complete wheel set
  • Vittoria Air Liner Lights
  • Bike shoes
  • Spare bike shoes
  • Helmet
  • Spare helmet
  • Julbo Sunglasses with REACTIV Photochromic lens
  • Spare sunglasses or spare lenses (x2)
  • Lightweight riding gloves
  • Thermal riding gloves
  • Waterproof riding gloves
  • Bike computer
  • Spare bike computer
  • Heart Rate Monitor
  • Spare Heart Rate Monitor
  • Blinking tail light for road riding
  • GoPro and associated charger, mounting equipment
  • Spare SD card for GoPro
  • Toe Warmers
  • Voler waterproof / thermal shoe covers
  • Toe covers
  • Foam roller
  • Resistance bands for physical therapy exercises, activation and core exercises
  • Chamois cream (x2, always)
  • Amp Human PR Lotion
  • KT tape
  • Saddle bag with tools
  • Dyna plug
  • Multi-tool
  • Spare tube(s)
  • SILCA EOLO IV CO2 regulator (x2, just in case) – note: we do NOT fly with CO2 cartridges. This is just the piece that screws onto the cartridge, which we always purchase at a local bike shop sometime before the race!

Bike Tools / Maintenance:

  • SILCA Viaggio Travel Pump
  • SILCA Gear Wipes
  • Toolkit that includes:
    • Full Allen wrench set
    • Brake bleed kit
    • Cable cutters
    • Pliers
    • Adjustable wrench
    • Screwdriver
    • Wheel rim tape
    • Electrical tape
    • Chain break tool
    • Zip ties & twist ties
    • Shock pump
    • Pick
    • Mini torque wrench
    • SILCA Super Secret Chain Lube
  • Spare parts:
    • Tire(s)
    • SILCA Ultimate Tubeless Sealant
    • Derailleur
    • Brake pads
    • Brake levers
    • Cables & cable housing
    • Chain
    • Master link for chain
    • Pedals
    • BOA dial replacement kits for riding shoes
    • Dynaplug inserts
    • Rotors
    • Bolts
    • Cable ends
    • Ferrules 

Cosmetics / Self Care:

  • Shower essentials (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash)
  • Other cosmetics (lotions, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, cotton swabs)
  • Shower cap
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye mask
  • Many wash cloths for showering (no one in Europe uses them!)
  • Sunscreen
  • Heating pad for muscles/injuries
  • Vitamins
  • Allergy medicine (nasal spray & allergy pill)
  • Tweezers and nail clippers

Food / Cooking:

  • Travel snacks (e.g., nuts, fruit, granola bars)
  • Water bottles (x10+ - depends on race length but I ALWAYS bring more than I think I will need)
  • Flow Formulas Drink Mix (regular)
  • Flow Formulas Drink Mix (with caffeine)
  • Flow Formulas Electrolyte Replacement Mix
  • Recovery Shake mix, made in individual baggies for easy mixing
  • LOTS of riding snacks for training rides (e.g., Oatmeal Cream Pies, Untapped Maple Packets, Bobo’s Breakfast Pastries, Gu Chews)
  • Turmeric & Chamomile Tea packets
  • Kodiak Cakes Pancake Mix
  • Kodiak Instant Oatmeal
  • Plastic measuring cup
  • New England pure maple syrup (small bottle, enough for at least race morning)
  • Sauté pan with lid
  • Flexible plastic cutting board
  • Bag of baggies
  • Salt & pepper
  • Spare utensils
  • Meat thermometer
  • Bottle brush
  • Scissors
  • Spatula
  • Sharp cooking knife
  • Insulated, soft-sided cooler bag
  • Panty hose (to fill with ice during hot races)

Other / Misc:

  • Passport / License
  • Some amount of local currency, just in case (I aim to do this BEFORE we arrive in the destination country)
  • Power converter plugs for international travel
  • IPhone & charger
  • Headphones
  • Laptop & charger
  • IPad & charger
  • Notebook & Pens
  • Kindle and/or book
  • KN95 masks for plane/airport
  • First aid kit
  • Umbrella
  • Laundry detergent pods or soap for hand washing clothes
  • Newsprint or packing paper
  • Plastic shopping bags (recycled)
  • Cross-body purse to keep belongings safe while walking around
  • Shopping cart coin for unlocking grocery store cart
  • Masking tape
  • Sharpies
  • Spare batteries (for HRM, power meter)
  • Handheld luggage scale 
  • Beach towel (x2) for padding in the bike bags and use during the trip
  • Carry-on essentials:
    • Mints
    • Travel deodorant
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Eye mask
    • Ear plugs
    • Spare KN95 mask
    • Toothbrush & toothpaste
    • Face wash
    • Hand lotion

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