Whether you're lugging it yourself or opting for an airline service, here's how to get your bike safely to the start line.
Just getting to the start line of any race is an accomplishment. It means you've trained, put your social life on hold, and rarely stayed awake past 8 p.m. But there's still one more thing you have to consider: doing all you can to ensure your bike arrives on time with all its necessary components intact.
If your race is just a drive away, no problem. Tuck that beautiful machine safely in or on your vehicle and head on down the highway. For the journey by car there are various options to transport your bike safely. The easiest method is simply taking off the wheels and packing everything into the trunk. However, there are also a lot of different racks available. Visit your local bike shop for assistance.
If you're taking to the friendly skies, you have a decision to make. The traditional choice has been to drag the bike box through the airport and check it in as oversized luggage. If this is the option you're most comfortable with, VELOTHON race director Michael Haas offers these tips for securely packing your bike:
1. Take the pedals off first - It's much easier to get leverage on tight pedals when the bike is still built. If you wait until after the bike is mostly dismantled, it can be very hard to take the pedals off.
2. Always take off the rear derailleur - This is a delicate moving part of the bike and can often be harmed when shipping.
3. Know your bike - Write down all your measurements and take them with you in case something happens in transit.
4. Separate the essentials - Pack your pedals, shoes, and helmet separate from your bike so if your box gets lost in transit, you have options.
5. Pad your bike - Use any soft goods like towels, sweatshirts, and swim pull buoys as extra padding in your bike bag/box. It will save room in your luggage and give you a little extra security.
6. Emergency tool kit - Travel with an extra tubular tire to fix a flat in case of any last-minute mishaps.
Whether you DIY by car or let an airline do the heavy lifting, a little planning ahead means you'll have one less worry on race day.