This month, Marty welcomes guest poster Rich Swenson to share his experiences with bike travel.
If you're dreaming of that once in a lifetime cycling vacation in Europe, or that annual Colorado tour, you may be up in the air regarding how to bring your bike – or whether to bring your bike at all. Here are a few ideas that can help you choose the best travel plan.
To Rent Or Not To Rent
Some tour operators will arrange a rental bike for you. But it won't be your bike, it won't necessarily fit as well or ride as well, and may actually cost you more in the end. Less hassle, yet when you're riding up the likes of L'Alpe D'Huez, you'll really appreciate riding that same bike you've been training on for the last several years. I vote for my own bike every time! The longer the trip, the more expensive renting will be. But, if you’re planning a short trip with only one or two days of riding, renting could be the way to go.
Regardless of your travel strategy, you’ll need to pack the bike. A great choice, available at County Cycles, is a Serfas Case. Yes, a case is an investment, but it'll get you through all of your once-in-a-lifetime trips, plus all those yearly excursions to Colorado. A case, no matter the brand, is going to be pricey, but we are talking your bike, and biking money, which is not the same as real money! The gang at County Cycles can help you pack your bike securely, too.
Here’s a pro tip: Pack a jersey, shorts, shoes, helmet and pedals in your carry-on. Even if your bike doesn’t arrive as planned, or is damaged, your tour operator may have a loaner bike you can start the trip with. And by the way, don't stuff too much into that 31-pound case besides your 17-pound bike—it can tip the scales at the airport!
Flying With Your Bike
With your bike snugly packed in its travel case, you'll approach the airport agent who will say something like, "Is there a bike in there?" You'll pause for a moment, confirm the obvious because it will be considered "oversized luggage" anyway, and the agent will say something like, "that'll be $150 please." No matter, you'll check everything in, go to your gate, and if all goes well as it usually does, you'll take it off the belt at your destination and head to the hotel.
In my experience, this scenario goes just fine most of the time. Just once in ten arrivals was my bike delayed, so that I left the airport without the bike. That was a bad feeling, but my bike was delivered to my hotel the next morning, to my relief.
Shipping Your Bike
I’m a fan of flying with your bike, but I have shipped mine in the past. Now, though, FedEx wants about $140 to ship my case and bike in the US. I'm pretty sure shipping my case and bike to Europe would cost a whole lot more than just paying the airline at each end. I once shipped a bike to South Korea, in two separate cardboard boxes, for a total of about $350, via the US Post Office. Shipping a bike can be convenient if you would rather have a pro mechanic re-assemble your bike at your destination, though the gang at County Cycles can pack it to be shipped to a local shop at the other end and you’ll be in good hands the whole trip!
That's it. Are you ready to travel with your bike? That initial investment in the bike case, or maybe even in that Ritchey Break-Away frame, as well as that first encounter with the less than enthusiastic ticket counter lady, may seem, well, expensive. But County Cycles can get you set, showing you how to pack your case that first time--or showing you how to pack that Ritchey. It will go smoother at the airport, you'll have your bike when you arrive in Denver, or Geneva, and believe me, that riding you do in the likes of the Rockies or the French Alps will seem priceless. But you already know that wherever you travel, the best way to appreciate that part of the world is on your bike.