Equipment List

By Beth Dawson, April 1990 508 winner and October 1991 508 runner-up

Required Equipment

At least one, but not more than two, support vehicles. No more than 78" wide Minivans such as the Dodge Caravan, Ford Aerostar, and VW Van are popular, although almost any vehicle less than 78" wide is legal. Recreational vehicles are prohibited, as are Hummers and Ford Excursions. Bigger is not better because they are a rollling roadblock. A rack for storing the bikes, extra wheels, and mounting the flashing lights is highly recommended.

Rear-facing, flashing amber lights. These are mounted on the rear of the roof. You can get turn signal lights and wire them into the vehicle's rear flashers. Mars lights (rotating lights) can be used, but the front must be covered; the lights must be visible only from the rear. The two most common methods for securing and setting up these lights are as follows:

  1. Buy amber lights, wire, cigarette lighter plug, and relay (a small electrical unit that pulses the electricity to make the lights blink) at an auto supply store and assemble them yourself.
  2. Buy "strobe" or "Mars" lights at an auto supply store. These can usually be obtained with magnetic bases for easy attachment to the roof.

For 2004 insights about where to get these lights, or similar, click here.

Slow-moving vehicle triangle and Caution Bicycles Ahead sign. Commercial signs and the triangle are available or make your own. The Caution Bicycles Ahead signs may be ordered in advance from the race office for $30 per set, as may the triangle for $20 each (specify magnetic, sticky 'one-time use,' or PVC plastic for either item). Make sure the sign is neatly lettered with a white background and red or orange reflective lettering and is visible from a distance.

At least two crew members. Most riders prefer to have three crew members so that one person can sleep or work while the other two share driving and doing hand-offs. You will need more people if you have two vehicles. Relay teams don't really need crew members.

Bike with lights. Be sure to make any equipment changes many weeks before the race, and make sure the bike is in top condition. Also, for night riding, the bike must be equipped with legal lights, front and back, and as many reflective materials as possible. I highly recommend the tailights and reflective gear (and their identity products) offered by

Suggested Equipment

Food. Most 500 racers consume 300-500 calories/hour, which requires constant eating or drinking. There will be few opportunities to buy groceries on the route, so stock up before the race. The rider should be very familiar with his/her eating preferences, but have "back-up" food ready; something that tasted good on a 40-mile training ride in cool weather might not sit well in 90° heat. Many 508 racers have had excellent luck with the products from Hammer Nutrition and E-CAPS Endurance Supplements.

Water, ice, and ice chests. Set a goal of drinking at least one big water bottle an hour; sometimes, up to three bottles is needed to beat the heat. Ice is available in Santa Clarita, Mojave, Trona, Shoshone, and Baker during normal business hours.

Health supplies. Sunscreen, lip balm, massage oil, soap, first aid kit, towels, and a variety of medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Maalox, No Doze are recommended. For saddle sores, try baby powder, Noxzema, or anesthetic "jock itch" creams. Experiment with all supplies on training rides; the race is a bad time to discover you're allergic to a particular brand of sunscreen. (Kiehl's is the best. Visit for more info.)

Bicycle parts. Don't count on finding bike shops (there is one in Mojave). In addition to tires, tubes, spokes, chains, lube, rags, and cables, remember to bring tools to change, fix, pump up, or adjust the parts you bring. For saddle sores, a comfortable saddle and a padded cover is a good idea. Most racers bring two bikes and as many spare wheels as possible.

Clothes. Bring suitable clothes for everything from 90-100° days to 30-40° nights. In daylight, pay particular attention to sun exposure. When it gets cooler, leg warmers, arm warmers, and jackets help you add and remove layers quickly. Booties and a good jacket may be useful, especially for cold downhills. Rain is rare, but it has happened. It's a good idea to change shorts every 100-200 miles. Don't forget extra socks and gloves. Injinji "Tsoks" are great for ultracycling.

Miscellaneous gear. Lots of things are generally useful for the race—clear tape and clear shelf liner (like for the kitchen) for putting signs on the van, a pocket knife, duct tape, electrical tape, flashlights, batteries (for the bike lights), paper towels, garbage bags, a clipboard with blank paper, calculator, stopwatch (for timing stops), camera, film, a sound system (ideally, speakers on the roof for playing tunes to the rider), scissors, and anything else that comes to mind. Oh yeah, don't forget the official route inside the Race Magazine!