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Old 01-20-12, 09:17 AM   #1
Rob_E
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Pre and post ride bike transport

So far I've done short trips, out and back, or trips where I either started or ended at home, so I haven't had to wrestle with this.

This spring I'm thinking of flying up to Ohio, probably Columbus, biking around for a week or so, and then flying home out of Cleveland. Seems like whatever I do to get my bike to Columbus, it'll result an any packing materials being left there, leaving me high and dry when I get to Cleveland. How do people deal with this?

Thoughts:
  • Get a box from the bike shop for the plane, ditch it in Columbus, and just hope I can do the same in Cleveland.
  • Get some kind of container that I can ship from Columbus to Cleveland.
  • Find some way to carry my container with me (probably only for a day or so)
  • Forget it. Add an extra two days on to my trip to travel back to my starting point.

I have an old Raleigh Twenty that I got specifically in hopes that I could get it into a suitcase that meets the baggage requirements, but 1) I haven't actually tried to do this, and 2) It occurred to me that if it only cost $100 ($50 each way) more for my full size bike, I'd rather have that. But the more I think about it, the more it seems that the $100 is just the minimum, and dealing with a shipping container and different starting and ending points could drive the cost up. Of course even the Raleigh Twenty option leaves me with a hard-sided suitcase that I have to travel with for at least a day.

Any advice?
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Old 01-20-12, 09:35 AM   #2
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Make arrangements with a bike shop in Cleveland either for a bike box or to have them box your bike for you. Better yet, ride the extra days.

$50 each way for a bike? You must be flying Southwest or Frontier.
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Old 01-20-12, 09:37 AM   #3
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I usually fly to my tour with the bike in a cardboard box and my gear either in a collapsible duffel or a thrift store suitcase ($7 or so). I discard the box and suitcase at the airport. If using the duffel I might carry it or mail it home.

For coming home I usually just pay a bike shop to pack my bike and ship it. It is nice to not have to deal with packing a bike in a strange city. The shop usually charges $40-60 and the UPS is usually $40-60. It has always come out pretty close to $100. It is worth the extra $50 to me.

For the airline part... Pick your carrier carefully, Southwest or Frontier are reasonable others can be as much as $200 each way. I generally have used Southwest and paid $50 for the bike with no other baggage charge.
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Old 01-20-12, 09:46 AM   #4
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Rob E,
If you are looking for a place to overnight we are in Chardon which is eat of Cleveland. We are also on WarmShoweers.
Tom
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Old 01-20-12, 09:57 AM   #5
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As you've got a folder and a suitcase, just use the system you bought. Ship the suitcase ahead to Cleveland right from the Columbus airport. Or do an out and back to cut cost and hassle factor.
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Old 01-20-12, 10:03 AM   #6
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Rob E,
If you are looking for a place to overnight we are in Chardon which is eat of Cleveland. We are also on WarmShoweers.
Tom
Thanks, Tom, that's very kind of you. I will be in Chardon, but it's because I have lots of family in the area: Chardon, East Clairdon, Thompson, Madison, Mentor, Windsor. I expect housing will not be a problem, but thanks for offering.
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Old 01-20-12, 10:18 AM   #7
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As you've got a folder and a suitcase, just use the system you bought. Ship the suitcase ahead to Cleveland right from the Columbus airport. Or do an out and back to cut cost and hassle factor.
Yeah, the folder and the suitcase is an untested situation. I definitely want to try it, but what I had in mind for it was more local transport with a fixed destination. Using the Raleigh for touring requires some rethinking of some issues. For instance, even if I can get the bike in a suitcase, now I have to make sure it can hold rack(s) as well. Some issues I've been putting off dealing with, mainly the dreaded Raleigh bottom bracket, I would probably want to tackle before trusting the bike to take me across the state.

So it's not like I have a "ready to roll" situation with the folder. It's more like the folder is a potential solution. I just have to figure out if it makes more sense to make the folding bike touring-friendly or make the touring bike travel-friendly.
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Old 01-20-12, 04:09 PM   #8
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For coming home I usually just pay a bike shop to pack my bike and ship it. It is nice to not have to deal with packing a bike in a strange city. The shop usually charges $40-60 and the UPS is usually $40-60. It has always come out pretty close to $100. It is worth the extra $50 to me.
This is a good thought, and it encouraged me to look up some info in the area. The bike shop in Chardon charges $40 to box a bike, and they will also ship it. That might be worthwhile. Even if shipping is more than I want to pay, I can still box it up and get a lift for me and the bike to the airport.
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Old 01-20-12, 04:59 PM   #9
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Cleveland and Columbus are close enough together that I'd be tempted to fly in/out of the same airport and just get a rental car to drive at the end (or start) to the one airport.

I've also used airplane boxes I get at the airport, so that also is easier.
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Old 01-20-12, 05:00 PM   #10
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1) Buy a Tardis cycling bag.
2) Pack bike in bag and fly to Columus
3) Assemble bike
4) Fold Tardis bag up and post to your hotel in Cleveland or general delivery to a convenient Post Office.

The nearest one to Cleveland Hopkins Airport is in Puritas Park and the address would be

Your Name
GENERAL DELIVERY
US Post Office
PURITAS PARK
14039 PURITAS AVE
CLEVELAND OH 44135-9999

The 9999 zip extension indicates general delivery and they will hold it at the Post office for 30 days,

5) Pick up your bag from the post office and pack up you bike. Take a taxi or bus to the airport.
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Old 01-20-12, 05:12 PM   #11
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This is a good thought, and it encouraged me to look up some info in the area. The bike shop in Chardon charges $40 to box a bike, and they will also ship it. That might be worthwhile. Even if shipping is more than I want to pay, I can still box it up and get a lift for me and the bike to the airport.
Bike shops usually get a good rate on shipping, better than an individual gets. My shipping home has been from out west to Baltimore and has been $40-60. It sounds like you will be flying Cleveland to Raleigh. I could be wrong, but I would expect that your shipping would be $40 or less. So a total of about $80. Given that you will pay $50 or more to the airline that sounds really attractive to me.

Whatever way you go have a great trip.
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Old 01-20-12, 09:54 PM   #12
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I like the Tardis idea because it could be reused for future trips, but for a single trip, it seems like it could work out to be more expensive the just getting the bike shop to box my bike, plus it seems like it would offer less protection. Still, for ease of use, it has potential. I might even be able to avoid shipping it if I could carry it for about sixty to miles where I am meeting up with someone who I will see later at the end of my trip. Also it's called a Tardis.

But getting it boxed at the shop sounds like a winning idea, too, from a cost perspective and a protection perspective.

Also I decided to toy with the folder/suitcase idea. I wanted to swap some parts on it anyway, so I dismantled it and put it into my large suitcase. It fits, and, at 44 pounds, it should fly free. So that's still an option. However the extent to which I had to dismantle it was far more than what would be required if I just sucked up that oversize fee and brought my touring bike. And I didn't determine if the rear rack could go in, too. And the suitcase would still have to be shipped. And the bike is a three speed. None of which are deal breakers on there own, but they do add up to a series of inconveniences that I'd likely pay to avoid. I think I'll have take the little guy on some long rides and see how he does.

As for renting a car to get back to the beginning, I hadn't thought of that. But when I looked at ticket prices, it didn't seem like flying in and out of the same airport was going to be any cheaper, so the only advantage is being able to retrieve my original packing material. If I can have the bike repacked for $40, that's likely a better deal, will take less time away from family visits, and I won't have drive, which is always a bonus in my book. Still, there are other reasons that ending in Columbus would be nice, so I'll keep that in mind.

Thanks for all the ideas. This trip seemed kind of daunting when I first started to consider all the aspects that didn't involve the actual riding portion, but all your advice and tips make it seem much more possible.
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Old 01-21-12, 09:10 AM   #13
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This trip seemed kind of daunting when I first started to consider all the aspects that didn't involve the actual riding portion, but all your advice and tips make it seem much more possible.
I generally have found that this stuff is a worry up front, but just kind of works out once underway.
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Old 01-21-12, 09:25 AM   #14
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1) Buy a Tardis cycling bag.
I have toyed with getting the Transit Soft Bike Case and using it in a similar manner. Forwarding it via General Delivery worries me just a bit, but only because my trips are likely to be more than 30 days and I am often not sure exactly where they will end. I guess the 30 day holding limit can be extended by stopping at a post office and asking that it be forwarded (I am pretty sure that would reset the 30 day limit). I know that we forwarded items a couple times when we either were not ready for them or were not in the town they were mailed to at a time the post office was open. That or I could just mail it home and closer to the end of the trip have it mailed to me via general delivery.

One other thing... How about Amtrak? I am curious whether they would allow you to carry a bag like the Tardis or the Transit on in stations with no baggage service. That would make rail travel much easier.
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Old 01-21-12, 09:58 AM   #15
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I have toyed with getting the Transit Soft Bike Case and using it in a similar manner. Forwarding it via General Delivery worries me just a bit, but only because my trips are likely to be more than 30 days and I am often not sure exactly where they will end. I guess the 30 day holding limit can be extended by stopping at a post office and asking that it be forwarded (I am pretty sure that would reset the 30 day limit). I know that we forwarded items a couple times when we either were not ready for them or were not in the town they were mailed to at a time the post office was open. That or I could just mail it home and closer to the end of the trip have it mailed to me via general delivery.

One other thing... How about Amtrak? I am curious whether they would allow you to carry a bag like the Tardis or the Transit on in stations with no baggage service. That would make rail travel much easier.
The Tardis is bigger than the Amtrak rules for carry on bags allow, but if you use some straps to pull the fabric tight you might be able to do it. I bet you can check it as regular baggage though as I've never had it identified as holding a bike in all the time I've flown with it.

The General Delivery tactic on trips longer than 30 days needs some planning as you have to take delivery and then mail it to your next destination.

I like the idea of just getting a bike shop to pack and ship the bike for you, but that might be expensive. My LBS charges $55 to pack the bike and shipping is extra.
Of course all this would not be an issue if we could rely on airlines to provide bike shipping boxes at the airports.
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Old 01-21-12, 12:01 PM   #16
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The Tardis is bigger than the Amtrak rules for carry on bags allow, but if you use some straps to pull the fabric tight you might be able to do it. I bet you can check it as regular baggage though as I've never had it identified as holding a bike in all the time I've flown with it.
The Transit is a bit bigger than the Tardis and both are a good bit larger than the Amtrak allowed size for carry on. My hope was that the carry on rules were not very well enforced. Things seemed pretty relaxed last time I used Amtrak, but I guess counting on that is probably a bad idea.

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The General Delivery tactic on trips longer than 30 days needs some planning as you have to take delivery and then mail it to your next destination.
FWIW, several times we just stopped at another post office and asked that our package be forwarded further down the road. We didn't need to take delivery, pay another charge, or even be at the post office it was delivered to. Some packages we even did this more than once. My assumption was that each post office would hold it for up to 30 days, but I would verify that before counting on it. We generally found the postal clerks very helpful, they generally seemed willing to bend over backwards to help us.

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Of course all this would not be an issue if we could rely on airlines to provide bike shipping boxes at the airports.
Yea it was nice when airlines would sell you a box. I don't know if any do that anymore or not, but the ones I asked definitely said no.
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Old 01-21-12, 10:44 PM   #17
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United Airlines has boxes, at least at PDX. Each airline has different size requirements, which is usually a sum of the L+W+H. It also depends on the size of plane. the smaller regional planes may not take a large bike box.

Icelandair= 87x40x22, Alaska Air= 115 linear inches. Amtrak=$15/box. Boxes are 69 x 41 x 8.5 inches,................

Does Amtrak have a route from Cleveland to your town? UPS will also pack and ship bikes. I also find it is better to go to the airport or train station and talk to someone in person. They will often call the other station or airport and get good information. We rode through Cleveland a few years ago, and stopped a a diner for dinner. The waitress insisted we bring our bike inside, "or they won't be there when you go out". On a positive note. We were invited to a fellow's house for lunch earlier in the day. It took a long time getting through town!

Also think about how you are going to carry the rest of your gear. Empty panniers, tools and helmet can go in the box; and the rest divided up between carry-on and checked baggage.

Don't let the logistics intimidate you. It seems a lot more complex than it really is. Good luck on your ride.

Amtrak, United Airlines and other carrier's boxes are about the same size. No real disassembly required.

These are about the size of Amtrak/American Airline boxes. They are huge. Just remove pedals, loosen stem and bars and roll bike into box. About a 20 minute operation.



Amtrak boxes


More disassembly required when using "regular" bike boxes. I try to do the best job of packing that I can when leaving from home. Coming back home, I just do the best I can with what I have to work with.


Don't tape the top too tight. They need to go through security at the airport.

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Old 01-22-12, 12:40 AM   #18
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Does Amtrak have a route from Cleveland to your town?
No direct routes. When I looked into using Amtrak to get to Ohio, I found I would have to transfer in DC or New York. Just using them to ship the bike hadn't occurred to me. I will have to look into that. Packing an Amtrak bike box does sound much simpler than what I had in mind.

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Also think about how you are going to carry the rest of your gear. Empty panniers, tools and helmet can go in the box; and the rest divided up between carry-on and checked baggage.
I have been thinking about that. I have a soft duffle bag that should hold at least two of my panniers. I was thinking I might get away with two panniers and a handlebar bag. The handlebar bag can be my carry on. I figure if I carry as much stuff Pre-packed as possible, set up on the other end will be quicker, and I won't run the risk of realizing I put more into my airline luggage than actually fits into my bike luggage. Although if I end up using my full pannier set, I expect at least one of them will travel empty to be used for food and othe supplies I might want to pick up after the flight, like fuel for my stove.
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Old 01-22-12, 10:15 AM   #19
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I have a soft duffle bag that should hold at least two of my panniers. I was thinking I might get away with two panniers and a handlebar bag. The handlebar bag can be my carry on. I figure if I carry as much stuff Pre-packed as possible, set up on the other end will be quicker, and I won't run the risk of realizing I put more into my airline luggage than actually fits into my bike luggage. Although if I end up using my full pannier set, I expect at least one of them will travel empty to be used for food and othe supplies I might want to pick up after the flight, like fuel for my stove.
The nice thing about traveling lightly and using the Tardis is that you use your gear as packing around your bike inside the bag.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...id=217599&v=3C
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Old 01-22-12, 10:55 AM   #20
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Take the car

Seems to me your timetable is flexible so why not avoid a lot of hassle and expense and drive to Columbus, park the car, do your tour to Cleveland and bus back to the car.
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Old 01-22-12, 11:20 AM   #21
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Seems to me your timetable is flexible so why not avoid a lot of hassle and expense and drive to Columbus, park the car, do your tour to Cleveland and bus back to the car.
Bussing back to Columbus would be problematic with the bike. I don't believe Greyhound is very accommodating in that regard. By leaving a car in Columbus, I change the problem from "How do I get my bike packed and sent home?" to "How do I get my bike back to the car?" The distances are shorter, but the problem is exactly the same. Plus the drive to and from Columbus would eat up two full days of my vacation, at least. Gas prices what they are and what they're likely to be by summer, the gas vs. airfare comparisons do not weigh so heavily on the driving side as you might think, especially if I stop for the night somewhere. Once you add in that I don't actually have a car, the whole drive-and-park idea becomes more of a hassle and expense than any other option. If I did have a car, there would be a temptation to do what you suggest, but I think the more likely scenario would be to drive to Columbus, drive to NE Ohio, and bike around there for a few days. The hassle of getting back to Columbus for my car would probably be great enough to warrant scrapping the actual touring aspect of the trip and turn it into a "pootling around north east Ohio" trip. Still enjoyable, but not the trip I'm wanting to take.
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Old 01-22-12, 12:30 PM   #22
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The nice thing about traveling lightly and using the Tardis is that you use your gear as packing around your bike inside the bag.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...id=217599&v=3C
You do make an excellent case for the Tardis. Are there racks in there as well? One thing with a boxed bike is that it seems like at least my rear rack would probably be allowed to stay attached. Still, a container I could fold up and take with me would basically solve all my problems and would make it possible to get to and from the airport unassisted, which probably won't be necessary, but would be a nice option.
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Old 01-22-12, 02:19 PM   #23
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I've both bought and abandoned Cartons in Shiphol AMS airport.

.. and made up a larger carton out of 2, I scored from a bike shop ,
to depart from smaller regional airports, like Aberdeen, Scotland ,
having a friend to drive me to that airport, with my packed carton was great.

panniers went in plastic bags, remaining, when the chickens had eaten the grains.


LBS for $50 + actual UPS charges does box and ship often.
In the Summer, being at the end of one of the ACA Trans Am routes.

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Old 01-22-12, 08:22 PM   #24
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May be you could rent a bike at your destination for what it would cost to pack and ship
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Old 01-22-12, 09:19 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Herb View Post
May be you could rent a bike at your destination for what it would cost to pack and ship
True. But unless a bike shop had a branch in both Cleveland and Columbus, the issue would be the same. Right now it seems like bike transport would be around $100-$200. That may be a little low for a little more than a week's use of a decent rental. Around here a rental would run around $200-$250 for a week, and I don't know of anyone who rents touring bikes. Maybe it would be different in Columbus, but it seems likely that I'd still have to find a way to get the bike back to Columbus, and would still have to pay at least as much as what it would cost to bring my own. I will have to check that out, because if it was significantly cheaper, it could be an option. But if it wasn't significantly cheaper, I'd rather have a bike I know.
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