Author Topic: Getting bike and gear to start of tour  (Read 7208 times)

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Offline CraigC571

Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« on: September 11, 2016, 05:33:33 pm »
I will ride the TA starting June 2017.  I live in Massachusetts and will ride west to east.  What experience do riders have getting bikes and gear (BoB trailer) to Astoria OR? 
Do I bring everything with me to the airport or ship ahead?
If I ship ahead are there recommendations on shops that will receive and hold it?
Any experience using UPS pack and ship?
Craig

Offline jamawani

Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2016, 06:02:07 pm »
Craig -

This has been covered many times - here and on other websites like BikeForums and CrazyGuy.
If you are flying, there is a twice-daily bus from Portland to Astoria.
Bike, Bob, and all your gear will cost a fortune on the plane.
I would suggest business-to-business shipping - which is cheaper than personal with both FedEx and UPS.
There's a good bike shop in Astoria - ship your bike and pay for assembly.
You can either ask to ship your gear to the shop or book a motel and ask to ship there.
If you fly in to PDX at midday and take the evening bus, you can motel it -
then pick up your bike and get set up at a leisurely pace the next day.
Give yourself sufficient time to get started without going nutz.

Best - J

Offline CraigC571

Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2016, 06:08:18 pm »
Thanx J.  This gives me some ideas.
Enjoy your today.
Craig

Offline John Nelson

Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2016, 12:05:32 am »
I have both taken my bike on the plane and shipped it. I prefer to take it with me on the plane if the costs are reasonable (and they are not always reasonable, depending on the destination and the airline). Since you have to travel by air then light rail then bus, I think shipping would save you a lot of hassle. If you do want to fly with your bike, be sure to check regulations for transporting bikes on both the light rail and the bus. I think the light rail may want the bike to be unboxed and the bus may want the bike to be boxed.

I did the TA in the opposite direction, ending in Astoria, and had Bikes and Beyond ship the bike home for me. I used the bus to which jamawani refers to get from Astoria to Portland. It's a very nice bus with onboard Wi-Fi. The downtown Portland bus station from which that bus departs is easily reached by light rail from Portland Airport. This is an extremely easy connection to make. The Astoria bus station is just a couple of block walk from Bikes and Beyond.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2016, 06:49:10 am »
I prefer to fly with my bike when possible.  It simplifies things to not have to find my way to a place it was shipped to and arrive when they are open or to get a room.  I get a kick out of riding right out of the airport.  Getting to Astoria is an additional concern, some ride there from the airport and some use a bus or a rental car.  We rented a car and drove to Newport to start.

Before buying tickets, do take into account that airline charges for the bike can and do vary widely.  I try to fly Southwest when possible and avoid the less bike friendly airlines.  I typically go to Southwest's site if the price aggregators (Kayak, Expedia, etc.) don't show SW flights. 

I do find that for getting the bike home at the end of the tour I usually don't want to spend time boxing up the bike in a strange town, so on the way home I most often have a bike shop pack and ship it.  That has typically run $40-60 for the shop and $40-60 for the actual shipping.  The bikes shops typically get a much better deal on shipping than you will if you walk into UPS or FedEx store.

I have never traveled with a trailer though and really prefer not to so I probably never will.  Your preference for a trailer may shift the preferred method of getting it all to the start.

Offline jamawani

Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2016, 08:43:47 am »
PS - If you have the time, Amtrak makes taking the bike and gear easy and inexpensive.
From Mass, you would take the Lakeshore Ltd and connect to the Empire Builder to Portland.
Then you would catch the evening bus right from Union Station to Astoria.
Amtrak bike boxes are huge - just remove pedals and turn the handlebars.
You get two checked bags and two (two+) carry-ons for free.

It does take a while, though - 3 days - with layover time in Chicago and Portland.
I hopped on the train in NYC at the end of my x-usa trip this summer and rode to Seattle.
Coach seats are 2X airplane seats - but if you can swing $$ for a sleeper, all the better.
Just another idea.

Offline aggie

Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2016, 11:07:02 am »
I like to travel by Amtrak.  As was previously mentioned they sell a bike box ($15 + $10 for shipping) that is easy to use and they will give you the tape to seal it up.  The first time I traveled on Amtrak with a BOB I nested two boxes with some gear and put it on the train as baggage (free) (It was smaller than their max dimensions for luggage).    When I got to my destination I just put the boxes in the trash so I didn't have to lug the extra weight and they were inexpensive.  Ortlieb has a bag called the Big Zip that will hold a BOB and some gear.  It can also be shipped as baggage on Amtrak or the airlines as long as you keep the weight below 50 lbs.  You can ship it home when you get to your destination or fold it it and put it on the bottom of the BOB.  If you take Amtrak and get a sleeper it does include the meals plus it's easier to sleep.  The small room is called a roomette.  The earlier you make your reservation the cheaper the price.  It will be more expensive than airfare but depending on the cost of taking your bike it may not be that much more than flying and it is much more relaxing. 

Offline dkoloko

Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2016, 09:51:18 am »
I use http://www.shipbikes.com/ to ship bike ahead. Picked up at your house, delivered to destination, insured for damage, loss. Take with to airport, you are charged a substantial extra fee, and are insured against loss, but not damage, and you have to transport to and from airports.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2016, 01:26:44 pm »
+2 on Amtrak. Twice upon a time I took Amtrak from the east coast to Seattle to start tours. Note that it is phasing in new baggage cars that might eliminate the need for even boxing the bike by next year.

If you decide to ship, check out bikeflights.com I have used them several times. They are basically a discount broker for FedEx shipment. Used them again back in June to ship from Philly to Missoula and back. FAR cheaper than what my airline wanted.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2016, 01:44:46 pm »
I have shipped FedEx ground a couple of times. The trick is getting a box shaped so as to not be flagged as over sized.  A bike box is over sized, a frame box is not.

I have always thought Greyhound Freight was interesting.  They ship from one Greyhound bus depot to another bus depot.  It has been a while, but Greyhound was pretty flexible on box size--it just has to be low enough to fit in a cargo hold.

I always wanted to travel by Amtrak, it just has never worked out for me.  Some routes even have roll on/off service.
Danno

Offline dkoloko

Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2016, 03:02:59 pm »

I have always thought Greyhound Freight was interesting.  They ship from one Greyhound bus depot to another bus depot.  It has been a while, but Greyhound was pretty flexible on box size--it just has to be low enough to fit in a cargo hold.


Just because it is a Greyhound bus station don't count on it being a station that will accept or receive a bike, and if does one, don't count on it doing the other; my experience.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2016, 03:16:40 pm »

I have always thought Greyhound Freight was interesting.  They ship from one Greyhound bus depot to another bus depot.  It has been a while, but Greyhound was pretty flexible on box size--it just has to be low enough to fit in a cargo hold.


Just because it is a Greyhound bus station don't count on it being a station that will accept or receive a bike, and if does one, don't count on it doing the other; my experience.

From Greyhound's point of view, the bike box is just freight.  You of course need a box, and I don't know what happens if a Greyhound staffer flops the box on its side and pile crap on top of it.  I think you have to factor in extra time in case the box has to switch buses too.  I got the impression that freight goes stand by, but there is usually room.

The last time I looked into this, I was going from Detroit to Buffalo, with a bus change in Pittsburgh.  Like I said, it is interesting...
Danno

Offline dkoloko

Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2016, 06:40:45 pm »

I don't know what happens if a Greyhound staffer flops the box on its side and pile crap on top of it. 


In my experience, it's what they do.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2016, 12:19:43 am »
Just a warning about Amtrak...I've used it twice, once across the country and once up the west coast from LA to Seattle.  Both experiences were disasters. Filthy conditions, WAY late on arrival, unfriendly and uninformed staff.  Etc.  I'll never use them again.  It sounds like others have had much better experiences, so maybe I just hit the wrong train two out of two times. 
May the wind be at your back!

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Getting bike and gear to start of tour
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2016, 09:47:45 am »
For a variety of reasons, some Amtrak routes are better than others. From an on time perspective, routes that use lines that are heavily congested with freight traffic (e.g., the Capitol Limited, which is popular with GAP riders) tend to have worse on time records, but not always. Necessary maintenance work can also affect on time performance.

A few weeks ago I rode the Vermonter with my bike from Philly to Brattleboro, VT. The Vermonter has roll-on bike service. The staff at the station was very helpful. The woman at the information desk told me to ask a red cap when I needed to report for the elevator ride down to the platform. The red cap was pleasant in letting me know, and everything went smoothly. Before my stop, the conductor let me know which doors would be used to detrain. The train arrived a few minutes early. The services uses lines with little or no freight traffic, some of which are dispatched by Amtrak and commuter agencies, so I should have been more hopeful this would happen then I was.