I never envisioned myself being a “serious enough” triathlete to need to transport my bike & gear to a race. I also never envisioned myself racing a full Ironman. Yet, Ironman Boulder 2019 is fully happening. After experiencing some FOMO (fear of missing out) when my teammates were all racing 70.3s in 2016 I started looking for a race for me! I knew having my family there with me was a must as was an interesting location. This was the beginning of my #racecation and traveling triathlete dreams.
Originally, I wanted to race Ironman 70.3 Miami because I could drive down from Virginia. After doing some more research into it I was realizing that it was going to be pretty pricey to fly 3 people from Chicago with hotel rooms. Next, I started looking for races in the Midwest which wasn’t where I wanted to race but my family support meant more to me. After selecting Ironman 70.3 Steelhead I decided I needed to figure out how to logistically get my gear there.
Your bike flight options…
As I am sure many of you know, flying your bike is PRICEY. I about choked when I found out most airlines charge $150 each way for a bicycle. Apparently, it does not count as luggage (due to the dimensions) and has a separate fee … 3x the luggage fee! In researching how to safely send my bike to races I looked at a couple companies. Bike Flights, Roadie, FedEx & UPS, and finally Tri Bike Transport. Bike Flights uses FedEx or UPS to pick up and ship your bike but at a rate that’s typically 30-70% less than if you went through them directly. They will also help you with paper work and give you the supplies to box it up. Trick is you have to do it yourself. You can get an easy quote on their website usually between $100-250.
I was a very inexperienced cyclist (still am I believe) and the thought of having to disassemble my bike put me in a panic. So I started looking more into Tri Bike Transport after I saw an ad for it on the ironman.com page.
Tri Bike Transport
The biggest selling point to me was that you drop your bike off at your local bike shop and it arrives assembled AT THE RACE. They have a list of bike shops that they work with in your area on their page https://www.tribiketransport.com/. How far you are shipping your bike will vary how far in advance you have to say good bye to it. For me it was 10 days ahead of time to get the bike from Virginia to Michigan.
I dropped my bike off at Endorphin Fitness in Richmond, VA fully assembled with only the pedals removed (by the guys at EF of course!). It was put on a mostly empty truck and off it went! After the race, it couldn’t have been easier! I got my bike from transition and walked it over to the TBT tent and they checked it back in to go home. A week later it arrived back at Endorphin ready for me to take home. Couldn’t have been easier, the people couldn’t have been nicer, and the process couldn’t have gone sooner. Now while at $350 a trip it isn’t saving any money from checking your bike but it had so many other positives that outweighed the costs.
- I didn’t have to worry about buying or renting a bike bag or get it boxed.
- I didn’t have stress about putting it back together wrong.
- We didn’t have to worry about how we were going to get the bike from Chicago to Michigan. Bigger car? Borrow a truck? How do we fit the whole family plus the bike?
- I didn’t have to worry about the bike being damaged by TSA.
- I didn’t have to worry about my bike being lost in transit.
- Less gear to shlep around after the race – I could just bask in glory of my finish.
- Friendly staff looked over my bike and gave it a free once over before I walked it to transition. Just to make sure everything was still in working order. Great for a bike rookie like myself.
Don’t let the fear of transporting your bike keep you from racing in a cool destination! Trust your bike with Tri Bike Transport until you feel confident enough to travel with your bike on your own. Just don’t forget to pack your pedals like I did! You actually need those to race… 😉