Friday, July 20, 2012

Overcoming fears ... traveling with the bike

For an unknown reason since we began this triathlon thing the idea of traveling by plane with my bike has made me afraid.

And as it turns out that was unnecessary. Now to be honest for almost everybody traveling with a bike on a plain is probably unecessary. If you're going to a big event you can use TriBikeTransport. And if you're going to a local event you can just drive it like normal. But for me I like to race with my brother in Minnesota once a year (so that he can royally dust the field with me but I have fun anyway).

Last year was the first time I decided I wanted to do this. Turned out it was also my first Olympic distance event as well. In the end I chickened out and rented a bike. The upside of that was that I discovered the greatest tri shop in all the world (or at least Florida and Minnesota). The downside was that I was still really intimidated to ship my bike.

But no more! I have conquered my fear. This year I did it and I'm hear to say it really isn't a big deal at all. So if you're out there being afraid of this ... get out your allen wrench and get busy :-)
Meet the bike box.

Here's what I did. First, my local tri-club has bike boxes you can borrow. I don't own one although if you travel very much you might as well get your own. So I started by picking up the empty box from my buddy Ben who had just brought it back from France (it's a well-traveled box).

I then did what any nervous girl would do. I sat in my garage looking at the box and the bike and watched you-tube videos until I felt confident. This bike box is from Thule and as it happens they make a video specific to this box.

Then I got down to business. I packed my road bike simply because even though I wanted to show off my new fancy tri bike. My husband pointed out (correctly) that I would be sad if it got broken. Silly lawyers always being so logical.

So, here's what you need: a ziploc, some bubble wrap, tape (I used electrical tape) and your allen wrenches

There's only a few things to do actually. First, mark with a sharpie and/or tape where your handlebars are and where your seat is. Next make sure the bike is in both the little front gear and the little back gear. Then here's what you do.

Take off your pedals, take off your seat, take off your handlebars and redo the bolts. Then deflate and remove your tires. Put the spindles in the ziploc. Put your tires in the box. Then put the hard plastic in, then put the foam on.

here's a helpful tip for the pedals - you always turn toward the back wheel. This way you don't strip the threads in the crank. I was super nervous about going the wrong way but just remember - to the back tire for both pedals. 

Then  set the frame in gently. Put the handlebars toward the front. Then start taping and wrapping. Wrap the rear derailer and secure the chain to the frame. Wrap pretty much everything with bubble wrap.
here's just the frame in the box

Then put all your other stuff into the box. Put the other foam on top and close it up. Voila.
Here it is mostly packed up.

So, that's it. Repeat in reverse when you unpack it. :-)
Here it is when it came back. There is plenty of space in here and it's already oversize so extra stuff is okay. So In here are the bike shoes, running shoes, helmet. water bottle, tool bag, wetsuit, helmet and even bug spray and Body Glide.

I actually was traveling just me and my kiddos and I was nervous about lugging the box and the suitcases solo so I shipped the box out  but then coming back I just brought it on the plane. It was no big deal to put it on the plane. There is a fee and it is a good idea to know what the fee is when you go because so few people travel with bikes that the attendants at the counter may not know what to charge you. I flew Delta. Delta considers bikes their own thing so as long as it's in a rigid box they didn't even weigh it.

As a closing note there are 2 things that didn't go perfectly. First, there was a bolt missing on from the handlebar setup when I arrived in Minnesota. Just missing, not in the box couldn't find it. I had 3 out of four and it held up during the trip. I meant to get to the bike store to get the extra but it didn't happen. Lesson here - next time I'll have an extra of these but also make sure that you have time to get to a store before the race in case anything goes wrong. The next thing is actually also related to visiting a bike store. You are supposed to have a little peg thing between the fork on the bike front and back to keep the spacing. These also come from bike stores. I didn't have this but since it's an aluminum bike I wasn't too worried and nothing went wrong. But if I was shipping a carbon bike I'd have been more careful.



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