The older you get, the more ridiculous it feels when you're out to dinner, order a drink, and are asked to show your ID.
Yes, it may have stroked your ego back when you were in your 30s. But now it's more annoyance than anything else. Yet, you always have your ID on hand, right?
Let's hope you do when you ride, as well.
There are many reasons to carry ID and related important information (health insurance, emergency contact, medical disorders or devices, etc.). And there are numerous ways to carry it, so there's really no excuse not to.
What You Need, and Why, on Rides
Before we list the individual pieces of ID and info that are important to carry with you, it makes sense to consider how best to carry some of the important cards and such we need in our daily lives. I make color photocopies of the cards I take with me on every ride. I just don't want to take the chance of losing the actual IDs. Plus, it makes it easier to carry them. Just make sure you keep any copies dry and protected (we'll touch on that more later on).
Driver's License. First, as we all know, you're considered a vehicle when riding on the road, and thus you should carry a copy of your driver's license. Along with some of my buddies, I've been pulled over by Stone Mountain Park police for violating their proprietary regulation on riding two abreast during "busy" times in the Park. (I'll resist a long digression on what a crock that is!) Though we've never been asked for our license in the Park, the point is, there may well be a time that you'll need yours on the road.
One of those times, of course, could be in the event of a crash. If you're conscious and taken to to a hospital, you'll need to show your ID upon admission. And if you're unconscious, it's important for first responders or others to ascertain your identity, for obvious reasons.
Health Insurance ID Card. The same thing holds true re: your health insurance card. Hospitals in the U.S. by and large require your insurance card – or a gold bar or two – before they will even check you out, unless you're in really bad shape.
Emergency Contact Information. I have written my wife's name and mobile number on the photocopy of my insurance card, in additon to having it available in two other formats. Keep reading.
Just make sure you have someone who can be contacted in case of an emergency, and be sure to use their "best" phone number or other means of contact.
Medical or Health Information. Again, if you're not able to provide it yourself, first responders will need to know about any medical conditions, medical devices, medications, etc., that may affect treatments provided, where you are taken (specialty hospitals), etc.
Ways to Carry Your Important Info
It's a good idea to have your various information in more than one place and format when you ride. If, for example, you carry everything in a cycling wallet, and that wallet gets ejected in a crash, or left behind at a stop somewhere – you need redundancy.
The good news is, there are numerous ways to tote your info in these tech-rich days – so that the info is accessible in various ways.
While there are several different companies that offer similar products or services within these formats, I'll just list how I carry my important info as an example.
Paper. As mentioned above, I carry a color photocopy of both my driver's license and health insurance ID card – along with a small amount of cash – in my RBR JerseyBin waterproof cycling wallet. I also carry my mobile phone in the wallet. So, for every ride I simply grab the wallet (already containing all the paper stuff), slip in my phone, and slide it into my middle jersey pocket.
QR Code. I use the ECOS Emergency ID System. It's a little tag that someone can scan with a mobile phone to pull up a web page containing whatever emergency info you care to post. You can input and edit your info as you see fit. Note: RBR Premium Members get 50% off an ECOS ID 3-pack. Click https://roadbikerider.com/index.php/rbr-sponsors for info.
Flash Drive. Since last fall, I've been wearing an Epic ID emergency bracelet (click to read my mini-review). It’s a silicon bracelet with a built-in flash drive on which you can easily store all of your contact, medical and health-related information so that any emergency responder can simply insert the flash drive into a laptop USB port to instantly access this critical data.
The great thing about both the ECOS and Epic ID systems is that they are not subscription-based, as are some other similar services.
Your Mobile Phone. Most phones now feature lock screens to protect your security if it is lost or stolen. However, there are apps (I use one called "Lockscreen" on my iPhone) that allow you to customize some identifying or contact text on the lockscreen itself. This is yet another way to idenify yourself on the road.
Static ID Bracelet. For years, I wore a Road ID band around my ankle with my info etched into the metal plate of the bracelet. Road ID has web-based ID systems these days, as well.
Again, there are other companies and similar services available to carry your vital info. Find what works best for you, and don't leave home without it.
John Marsh is the editor and publisher of RBR Newsletter and RoadBikeRider.com. A rider of "less than podium" talent, he sees himself as RBR's Ringmaster, guiding the real talent (RBR's great coaches, contributors and authors) in bringing our readers consistently useful, informative, entertaining info that helps make them better road cyclists. That's what we're all about here—always have been, always will be. Click to read John's full bio.