Author Topic: Do I ship stuff to my starting point or buy it there?  (Read 2213 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Jane Pullman

Do I ship stuff to my starting point or buy it there?
« on: June 13, 2013, 11:17:35 am »
I live in Portland Oregon and will be flying to Maine to bike the Atlantic Coast route solo in September.  This is my first long tour and I need to buy a bunch of stuff.  Should I buy all my stuff now and ship it to Maine from Oregon before I go or should I wait til I'm in Maine (at my sister's house) and buy it then to save the shipping cost?  Also, I'm going to have to ship my bike (Surly Disc Trucker).  I'm thinking Amtrak is the least expensive, but has anyone used ShipBikes.com?

Jane

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Do I ship stuff to my starting point or buy it there?
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2013, 11:51:41 am »
If you are taking the train to Maine, then using Amrtak to ship your bike makes sense.  If Amtrak has a freight service then that is news to me.

Greyhound Bus has a freight service that was pretty reasonable last time I looked.  You box up the bike, and they ship it from bus terminal to bus terminal.  It was much cheaper than UPS/FEDEX/DHL.

Southwest Airlines is pretty bike friendly.  I used them last summer.  You put the bike in a case, hand them $50, and it shows up in luggage pick up.  I think they have raised their rates since them so you would have to check and see.

As for your "stuff".  I think there is a argument for buying it in Portland and trying it out before you go.  If you know what you need, then you could also buy it in Maine.  I would want to try stuff out first, but you might not care.
Danno

Offline aggie

Re: Do I ship stuff to my starting point or buy it there?
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2013, 12:35:01 pm »
If you are taking Amtrak you can ship your bike with you.  Amtrak has a nice bike box that requires very little prep (handle bars and pedals) to use and it is very inexpensive compared to other shipping methods.  Your panniers will serve as you luggage which you can either check or you can carry them on.  I recommend that you get a small room.  It will cost more than a regular ticket but you can keep your panniers with you plus you'll be able to get a good nights sleep as well as the fee includes your meals for the trip. 

Offline staehpj1

Re: Do I ship stuff to my starting point or buy it there?
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2013, 01:20:21 pm »
What type of and how much stuff are you talking about?  Packing a reasonable amount of gear and clothing, you can probably fit it all in one checked bag and one carry-on bag pretty easily.

Shipbikes was OK, but I usually prefer to just fly with my bike.  If you fly Southwest Airlines it is pretty cheap to check your bike and gear.  If you fly other airlines be sure you know the baggage policy ahead of time as flying with a bike can be crazy expensive.

Amtrak is more expensive and a very long tiring ride in my experience, at least for longer distance trips.

I would advise buying all food and fuel during your ride rather than in Oregon.

Just my opinion, but...  While the Maine coast is nice, but the rest of the ride, you seem to be leaving some of the best touring (Pacific Coast) for a pretty mediocre place to tour (the East Coast).  The East coast is way less bike friendly and camping is generally scarce and expensive much of the way.  If staying in motels or stealth camping the lack of inexpensive camping may be a non issue.  You may be looking for something different in a tour than I am though.  Also most of the way you will not see the actual coast.  If you know what you want in this tour and what the east coast has to offer you may be fine, but if you expect it to be similar to touring the west coast you will be disappointed.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Do I ship stuff to my starting point or buy it there?
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2013, 02:13:44 pm »
If Amtrak has a freight service then that is news to me.

It does, but not between all points:

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=Page&pagename=am%2FLayout&cid=1241267371736

"Bicycles
Regular bicycles and unicycles may be shipped on Amtrak Express. Bikes must be securely packed in a box; you may bring your own box or purchase one at the station (call ahead for details and to make sure that boxes are available). Bicycles are generally exempt from Amtrak Express size requirements."

You can only bring your bike on board with you between stations with checked baggage service. I suspect the same rule applies to Amtrak Express service.

IMO, if you are brining more than you can carry with you on the plane you are likely bringing too much. Use one pannier as your carry-on (or tape two together). Put the rest of the gear in a duffle and check it. Mail the bag home when you arrive. The only thing I would ship is my stove and fuel bottle to eliminate the risk of confiscation by the TSA.

Having your gear ahead of time gives you an opportunity to become familiar with it, and I doubt the checked baggage fees will be less than the cross country shipping fee.

As for the bike, with what most airlines are charging now, it's often cheaper to ship the bike UPS or FedEx. We typically go throuigh a LBS. Seems like they can get you a better commercial rate. While it adds costs, we have our LBS box our bike, ship them to a LBS at the start and have them assembled and tuned there. Saves us work, which is nice when you have just spent over half the day travelling and have to hit the road early the next morning.

For all, it's my understanding that Southwest recently uppped its bike fee to $75.

I live in Philly and am very familiar with the Atlantic Coast route from around Otisville, NY down to Conshohocken, PA and possibly a bit south of there. (I don't have the map for the section south of Conshy.) Just rode the stretch  between Port Jervis, NY and Philly earlier this spring as I did last year. These were taken between Port Jervis and Milford, NJ, with a detour en route to a campground and wolf preserve:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/sets/72157633368316419/

Feel free to send me a PM if you would like detailed info. on the route, sights, services, etc.


Offline staehpj1

Re: Do I ship stuff to my starting point or buy it there?
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2013, 02:20:06 pm »
For all, it's my understanding that Southwest recently uppped its bike fee to $75.
Yes true, still a pretty good deal though since that is the only baggage fee unless your second bag is oversize too.

Offline awbikes

Re: Do I ship stuff to my starting point or buy it there?
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2013, 03:13:40 pm »
Be very careful using FedEx and UPS. The size of the box can drive up costs as much or more than weight. I had an experience last year when I shipped two bikes from Florida to California via FedEx. They both weighed the same but my LBS gave me one box that was noticably bigger than the other one. That box costs twice as much as the smaller one. I shipped both back to Florida at the end of my tour as freight on Amtrak (while we flew home) and it cost a third of what FedEx cost going over. Transit with Amtrak was a little longer though. What ever you do check and recheck your plan. I personally seem to have a habit of making costly shipping mistakes.

Offline Jane Pullman

Re: Do I ship stuff to my starting point or buy it there?
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2013, 05:10:35 pm »
Hey Everyone.  Great feedback.  I will go ahead and get my gear before I fly out of Portland rather than shipping it ahead of me.  You are right.  I will have to be able to pack all my stuff in my panniers so I might as well just take it all with me on the plane.  I am going to do the Atlantic Coast route because, although I was born and raised in Westchester County, New York, I never visited any of the east coast states.  I've lived all along the west coast and know the area pretty well.  I'm itchin to see the east coast states.  I'm probably going to take Amtrak from Florida back home to Portland and hope to take my bike with me on the trip home.  Or, if Southwest is good with bikes, maybe I'll just fly home - don't know yet.  Thanks again.  This forum stuff is great.  Happy pedaling, Jane

Offline staehpj1

Re: Do I ship stuff to my starting point or buy it there?
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2013, 05:35:22 pm »
Have a great trip. 

Offline BobG

Re: Do I ship stuff to my starting point or buy it there?
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2013, 02:54:14 pm »
The East coast is way less bike friendly and camping is generally scarce and expensive much of the way.

Indeed the Atlantic coast route is expensive riding solo. I just rode from NH to Poughkeepsie NY joining the ACA route in Granby CT. Was headed to VA but cut the trip short due to weather and expense. Some short days due to heat wave and my early season level of fitness. Here's what I paid for overnights-

campgrounds-

N Woodstock NH................. $25
Ascutney Vt state park..........18
Vernon VT state park............ 18
Pleasant Valley CT.................30
Rudd Pond state park NY...... 20
Norrie state park NY............. 20 (Thursday night)
" " " ".................................... 25 (Friday night)

motels-

White River Jct VT.............$122
Westfield MA......................  75
Poughkeepsie NY............... 124

Check your Amtrak schedule carefully to make sure your train choice includes checked baggage service, or ship your bike separately.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2013, 03:20:04 pm by BobG »

Offline indyfabz

Re: Do I ship stuff to my starting point or buy it there?
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2013, 04:29:37 pm »
The campground in Worthington State Forest on route adjacent to the Delaware Water Gap Nat'l Recreation Area is $25 for non-New Jersey residents. Camp Taylor, next to the Lakota Wolf Preserve that I took a detour to, was around $30, though you get a discount on the price of admission to see the wolves. Driftstone on the Delaware, on route south of Portland, PA, is a staggering $42 before 9/1, $38 afterwards. (Closes for the season on 9/15). Delaware River Family Campground, on the NJ side of the river south of Columbia, NJ is $41. Dogwood Haven in Upper Black Eddy, PA, just off the route from Milford, NJ, was $15. The owner is a nice guy. He gave me that rate last year because I came by bike. Gave it to me again this year. YRMV. In general, I would expect to pay between $30 and $35 at least at private campgrounds in Lancaster County, south of Philadelphia.

Offline BobG

Re: Do I ship stuff to my starting point or buy it there?
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2013, 07:54:16 pm »
Just my opinion, but...  While the Maine coast is nice, but the rest of the ride, you seem to be leaving some of the best touring (Pacific Coast) for a pretty mediocre place to tour (the East Coast). 

This I disagree with. It's a pretty cool back roadsy route with a lot of intrigue, at least the NE sections I have ridden.  Check out Indyfab's photos of the most "mediocre" stretch through NJ/PA Delaware water gap. I've done a more rural route through CT in the past than the ACA suggestion and could tweak their route off of most of US 44. I've also bypassed Philadelphia and Baltimore with back roads further west on past trips south to Washington and VA. But compared with the car drive down the Jersey Turnpike, the bike route is a different world!
« Last Edit: June 14, 2013, 08:03:02 pm by BobG »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Do I ship stuff to my starting point or buy it there?
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2013, 08:53:43 am »
Just my opinion, but...  While the Maine coast is nice, but the rest of the ride, you seem to be leaving some of the best touring (Pacific Coast) for a pretty mediocre place to tour (the East Coast). 

This I disagree with. It's a pretty cool back roadsy route with a lot of intrigue, at least the NE sections I have ridden.  Check out Indyfab's photos of the most "mediocre" stretch through NJ/PA Delaware water gap. I've done a more rural route through CT in the past than the ACA suggestion and could tweak their route off of most of US 44. I've also bypassed Philadelphia and Baltimore with back roads further west on past trips south to Washington and VA. But compared with the car drive down the Jersey Turnpike, the bike route is a different world!

I prefaced my comments with "Just my opinion, but..." for good reason.  I can see someone really liking a tour on the east coast, but I can also see someone being very disappointed if they expected it to be like the Oregon coast.

I am very familiar with the back roads of the east having grown up here and ridden here for the last 55 years or so.  I never said the east coast route didn't have beautiful country and nice roads.  I think it does, although in a somewhat understated way.

My negative somewhat comments about the route have more to do with the frequency, price, and quality of the available camping.  In the plains and much of the west you can usually camp in just about any small town picnic grounds or park.  In the east you would be lucky if you were only run off and not arrested for doing the same.

Again remember that I said this was my opinion, but I hate staying in $20-40 campsites, I dislike needing to have the more locked in plans usually required if you want to stay with warm showers hosts, and I really prefer not to need to use stealth too often.  On the other hand I love staying with other cyclists in hiker biker sites that cost $4-8.  I like camping for free in plain sight.  I like not having to decide where to stay until I feel like stopping.

There is also the fact that the east coast route has no views of the coast for a pretty large percentage of the way, and much of the way the coast isn't much to look at compared to the west coast, again in my opinion.

Looking through the lens of those preferences the OP's home state is much more desirable for touring.  On the other hand had I grown up and spent the last 55 years riding in Oregon, maybe the east coast would be more of an adventure for me as well.

Offline BobG

Re: Do I ship stuff to my starting point or buy it there?
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2013, 04:35:33 pm »
Pete,

I just wanted to let the OP know that she has chosen an excellent route for a September bike trip after our somewhat skeptical warnings about limited affordable camping. I'm in agreement with you on that.

Just my opinion, but I found the PCH from Florence to Astoria OR to be among the most stressful, noisy, and traffic clogged stretches of the entire TransAm route. (Yes, I know...north bound against the wind and ocean on the wrong side). A real anticlimax after the country lanes of VA, the open space of Kansas and the majestic Rocky Mountains. The only road worse was perhaps that 4 lane Kentucky Route 80 around Hazard.

On a subsequent TransAm we took the traditional route inland to hit the coast just above Lincoln City to avoid the mayhem of the coastal highway. Why the PCH has become a cyclist's destination is beyond my comprehension despite it's ocean vistas and abundant cheap camping.

I truly feel the OP has chosen a better, more tranquil bike trip regardless of past experience and pricey accommodations. Yes, the Atlantic route is poorly named as there is not much ocean to see.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Do I ship stuff to my starting point or buy it there?
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2013, 05:49:08 pm »
Yes that all makes sense.  It is after all very dependent on the individual rider and their preferences.  I loved the portion of the Pacific Coast that I have done (Astoria to San Luis Obispo).  I wasn't crazy about the inland route in Washington between Seattle and Astoria.

I really didn't find the traffic on the Pacific Coast to be a big issue for me either time I rode there, but I guess I am pretty traffic tolerant.

I don't recall the section you mentioned in Kentucky, so I guess it didn't make an impression on me.  That is unless you mean the section of 80 west of Breaks Interstate Park.  If so I can say I actually liked that road.