About 2 weeks ago I started looking very seriously at my alternatives for getting Hidalgo (my bike) out to the starting point in California. As always, Adventure Cycling has a wealth of information. I looked into bikeflights.com and shipbikes.com along with a couple of other alternatives. If you don’t want to take the bike with you on the flight, you’ve got to allow 2-5 days lead time. For better or worse, I decided to check Hidalgo onto the same flight I will be on, although I will be sitting in a chair and the bike will be with the luggage.
With that plan in mind, I got a box from one of our local bike shops. I spent time looking at various videos on how to pack a bike. I will say, there are some Australian travelers who can make it look pretty simple and easy:
Step 1: “Since I’m traveling in Thailand, you want to look for a bike shop that can give you a box. This one has chickens running around out front, so you know they will be pretty open to giving you one of their extras.”
Step 2: “ OK. Now you just pop off the pedals, remove the wheels, drop the rear derailleur so it doesn’t get smashed, tuck it in like this, disconnect the stem or handlebars, turn it around like this. Tape the loose ends down. Tape together your loose parts, seal up the box and you’re good to go.” The airline attendants are very friendly and accommodating. The whole video is less than 8 minutes.
So, I spent this past Saturday practicing packing my bike. I had the advantage of a bike stand to hold Hidalgo as I dismembered the bike. None of the guys in the video seemed to have any racks for panniers on their bikes. So they certainly didn’t have to deal with a special rear rack that is supported through the rear axle, rear brake and now (with some additional modifications) on the rear fork. It takes me more than 8 minutes to just get the rear wheel off! I also have a few lights mounted on the seat post and handlebars. I made some marks with white out on the all carbon handlebars so they would be set at the same angle and position when I reassembled the bike.
All in all, I probably spent more than 2 hours getting it satisfactorily packed. That included time cutting pipe insulation to protect the various parts of the bike frame and some bubble wrapping here and there. At any rate, I think I will do a good job when I pack it up for real on Thursday for the flight on Friday. It looks like it will be raining Thursday, so it will be a good day for packing. I have since unpacked the bike and reassembled it. I’ve ridden it a few times, so I must have put it back together correctly. I feel a little better about getting the bike there safely, but I’m going to be worrying until I take it for a test ride Friday night in California just 3 days from now.
The Lone Rider.