Road Bike Activations

Hi SOTA folks

I graduated from a hybrid bike (rubbish at most things) to a thoroughbred road racer this weekend. I hope to do a few activations using it. Has anyone else used a road bike to get to activations? If so, what did you take with you, how did you carry it, how did you ensure that the bike was still there after the activation?

Comments from practitioners rather than theorists very welcome!



In reply to G3CWI:

Hi Richard,
Kit in rucksack as normal.
Pole in cloth fishing pole bag.(stops it rubbing paint off bike frame)
Pole in bag tied to bike’s crossbar with shoe laces.
Take bike to summit or padlock to fence post etc at parking spot.
If bike has quick release wheels make sure padlock chain goes through front wheel as well as frame.
Take spare inner tube ,tyre levers and pump just in case you get a puncture.
Water bottle can be fixed to frame.
Happy cycling.

David G3RDQ.

In reply to G3CWI:

I have used a bike a couple of times to save the long walk up Ennerdale valley when activating Red Pike,High Stile or Haystacks.

There is plenty of dense tree cover in the valley so no problems hiding the bike and maybe some of that camouflage netting that birdwatchers use on their hides could be useful where the tree cover is not that good.


In reply to G3CWI:

Hi Richard,

I’m more a cyclist than a SOTA activator, but did do three summits in one day using one of my road bikes - 108 miles and 6000ft of ascent in under 12 hours.

For these activations I could get the bike right up to the trig point (perhaps with a little pushing due to poor surfaces). A proper road bike does mean you can cover the distances better, but depending upon your bike it can be harder to carry equipment.

You don’t say what your bike is, but if you mean a full-on racing bike it is less likely to have rack mounting points than the Audax bike I used (which is optimised for fast touring so can fit mudguards and very light racks). Personally I hate to have anything on my back when cycling, both from a comfort and a safety point of view. It is far better to put the gear into a pannier if you can fit one. For some panniers, notably Ortlieb, you can get a rucksack style harness for carrying off the bike - though this isn’t as good as a proper rucksack. I guess the choice depends upon if you’ll be spending more time riding the bike or off it - whatever you do will be a compromise.

An alternative if your bike doesn’t have mount points is something like the Carradice Bagman rack which attaches to your saddle rails and will properly support a saddlebag. An alternative from Carradice is the SQR quick release system that mounts on the seat post, but it isn’t to be recommended if your bike has a carbon fibre seat post. The SQR uplift takes a standard saddle bag, or you can get specific bags like the SQR Tour that would be big enough to hold a moderate sized radio, batteries etc. The SQR Tour does have D rings that you can attach a shoulder strap to, but I wouldn’t want to carry it far that way - definitely one for an activation where you can get the bike to the summit or very close.

I like Carradice stuff as it is all made in Nelson, Lancashire, by ladies who sign their names onto the labels. If you have any trouble, you can telephone the manufacturer and they deal with it like a good business should. They are the bags of choice for many serious commuters and long distance riders.

Here’s my race bike with a Carradice Nelson Longflap bag on a bagman when I was taking part in Paris-Brest-Paris in 2011 (720 miles, 3 days, unsupported) to show how you can fit luggage to a bike that hasn’t been designed to carry it.

At the back of the saddlebag you can see a black pump. it’d be possible to safely put poles/elements up to about 18 inches long in that position - typical road bike handlebars are 42-44 cm wide. I think you may know someone who could put together a set of poles and a little beam in this size :slight_smile: Alternatively longer poles can be strapped to the top tube - either above or below depending upon the cable run (you don’t want down the side as that could rub your legs).

Where I’ve got a sleeping bag in a dry bag strapped to the top, you could roll up a daysack and transfer your kit from the saddlebag once you get to the hill.

For security locking the bike up, the best method is to have two independent locks, on cable and one D lock. Make sure both go through the frame, and one around each wheel. One or both should go around an immovable object. The reason for taking two is that typically scroats go equipped with either a mini bottle jack (for cracking D locks) or cutters (for cables), but it isn’t usual for them to carry both - unless it’s a professional team in which case you’ve lost the bike anyway. Plan B is to leave your bike next to a much more desirable one that has worse locks!

I like the Kryptonite Evolution Mini D lock - it is small (easy to carry and difficult to get a jack inside) )and with a good enough security rating that I’ll leave my S-Works Roubaix locked with it short periods in moderate areas.

73, Matt G7GCR

In reply to G7GCR:

Matt and others

My bike is a full-on racing bike so no attachments for racks etc. It’s the incredibly good value Triban 3 from Decathlon. Thanks for taking the time to give such detailed advice. Food for thought.



In reply to G3CWI:

I bet you’re having a lot of fun on that - it must have felt like a racing car compared to your hybrid! I’ve heard good things about that bike, as you say it is very good value.

It does look to have rack mount threaded holes on the rear dropouts (just above the axle), and the top of the rack can be fixed with plastic coated electrical P clips to the seat stays, or using a different seat clamp like

Of course, you may not want to change the sleek lines of your new toy!

73, Matt G7GCR

In reply to G7GCR:

I bet you’re having a lot of fun on that - it must have felt like a
racing car compared to your hybrid! I’ve heard good things about that
bike, as you say it is very good value.

It’s awesome. Sliced 5 mins 36 sec off a 41 min PB training run yesterday.

It does look to have rack mount threaded holes on the rear dropouts
(just above the axle), and the top of the rack can be fixed with
plastic coated electrical P clips to the seat stays, or using a
different seat clamp like


Of course, you may not want to change the sleek lines of your new toy!

I don’t - yet!

Looking forward to using it for the odd activation in the summer.

Thanks for all the advice.



In reply to G7GCR:
Recognising Richard can’t easily fit a rack, but I’d just like to echo the sentiment from Matt about not carrying stuff on your back. Unless it is for a really short journey, cycling with a rucksack is horrible.

If I cycle and walk I usually take the rucksack contents out and put them in panniers and then bungee the rucksack to the top of the rack, in a plastic bag so the straps can’t get in the back wheel.

I leave the panniers on the rack when I stop.

I only do this on a mountain bike so bike security has never been a problem for me. Just a basic lock so someone won’t pick it up and ride off with it from the remote spot I have left it at.

I’ve never combined SOTA with cycling so far. I’d be concerned about the poles .

Interesting though.


I’ll concur with all that Richard and Gerald have said already.
I’ve done several activations on my road bike and have many more planned.
So far I’ve done G/CE-001, G/WB-021 and G/WB-009.
The one criteria for me is that I must be able to get the bike onto the summit.
I’m not going to be leaving it somewhere by the roadside!

My idea of Road bike is far removed form yours however, but coming from the same background as Richard (Audax), the bike must be able to support the rider over 100s of miles without a support crew next to them!

The biggest problem with any biking and SOTA is keeping warm on the summit.
Even on cool days I’ll be wearing a light top and shorts which is more than adequate for a summer ride in the hills. The problem starts when you stop and activate on a windy, cool and sometimes wet summit.
You really need to take adequate clothing for this very real eventuality and that, together with the radio, antenna, food etc. means you really cannot stow all that in your back pocket and therefore need some form of rack pack.

My pack holds everything above plus tools, spares (tyre, tubes, spokes, survival blanket, Sudocreme!)and never leaves the bike.

I use a small 5m portable fishing pole which straps nicely to the rack pack.
You can see it here clearly on my WB-021 video.

On WB-009 I got totally pounded by the rain and ended up wearing every bit of kit I had with me (other than the survival blanket). Conditions, as you know, can change dramatically in a matter of minutes!
I cut the wet bits out of this video.

I have done one activation where I carried everything in my back pocket - my MTR, Tuner, keyer battery and a length of wire which was just strung up in a bush.

Have fun.


In reply to G4ISJ:

Thanks Pete. The first video makes it look very pleasant. I have done a few activations using my hybrid but hopefully the road bike will open up some more distant opportunities.