Author Topic: Using a Bump Box while biking  (Read 391 times)

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Offline brhoward

Using a Bump Box while biking
« on: November 06, 2019, 03:42:03 pm »
Just wondering. Hikers use a 'bump box' to forward supplies as they hike long distances. They forward the package to a destination a few days away and use as needed, then forward on the the next location on the route. Has this concept been used by bikers to have access to spare tires, tubes seasonal clothing, etc>

Offline John Nettles

Re: Using a Bump Box while biking
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2019, 03:55:35 pm »
It is possible but typically not needed except for possibly parts of the Great Divide.  If you do need certain supplies, like medicine, refilled, a lot of cyclists mail it to themselves via General Delivery.

Some long-term touring cyclists (touring for 6+ months) very well may ship appropriate seasonal clothing ahead instead of carrying it with them the entire time, but stuff like tubes, tires, etc. can typically be found locally unless you have some unusual situation.  This is assuming you do carry at least some extras of the essentials with you, i.e. tubes, patch kits, food, etc.
Remember, most places you can pick up a box has something around, or at least a way to get somewhere to get what you need. 

In 40+ years, I have never needed a bump box other than for my meds, which are usually not available in smaller towns and are much cheaper to mail order.  However, when I do go on a remote and/or multi-month tour, I do have a few different sizes of the shipping boxes (USPS, Fed-Ex, etc.) at home along with a stock pile of possible items (tires, Gates belt, extra meds, etc.) that the better half can expedite to me if needed.  Obviously, if I am outside the USA, then the boxes are international boxes.  Again, never had to use it.

Hope this helps.  Tailwinds, John

Offline brhoward

Re: Using a Bump Box while biking
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2019, 04:46:44 pm »
Good point John to have the necessaries at home and have the better half expedite. That's assuming you started the tour on good terms!!!! ha Ha!

Offline John Nelson

Re: Using a Bump Box while biking
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2019, 06:05:48 pm »
On a long tour, I leave a big box of spare parts and extra supplies at home or with a friend. When I need something, I just tell whoever has the box what to send me and where to send it (where I will be in a few days). It's kind of like a bump box, but you don't send it to yourself, and you get to pick what's in it while you're on the road.

I don't think the traditional hiker's idea of a bump box is what is needed on a bicycle tour, so some differences are expected.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Using a Bump Box while biking
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2019, 06:24:52 am »
We tried a variation of it on the TA when we were given a huge box of dried and freeze dried food.  We mailed several boxes to ourselves at various locations via general delivery.  Delivery worked sort of okay, but we really didn't find we wanted the stuff when we got there.  Also we tended to arrive in towns when the post offices were closed.  We needed to go at least slightly off route to find the post offices.  There were other issues as well.  So basically it is possible, but was a fail for us in this case.  Using it for food was an especially bad idea even when we were given free food.  Much better to just buy fresh food daily or as close to daily as possible.

On a more general note...  I have not found that there is much reason to bump stuff ahead on a bike tour.  I find that yeah maybe seasonal stuff on a real long tour, but most often you might as well have stuff sent from home or maybe even buy items while on the road.  Back in the beginning we mailed a lot of stuff home and had some things mailed to us.  As I refined my packing list more and more over the years I found it to be lighter and lighter and more and more flexible and universal.  These days there are only a few items that I am likely to send or receive to or from home via general delivery and most tours even long ones I don't need to.

The one thing that I think I might bump ahead is my soft case.  Packing with ultralight backpacking gear I can get my bike and gear in the soft case and keep it all under 50# to fly with it.  Especially with the current more friendly bike baggage rules, I can see maybe bumping the case ahead to fly home with it.  The post office will only hold things for 30 days so on a longer tour I'd have to arrange for someone to hold it for me (bike shop, WS host, etc.).  Thus far I have just mailed it home and had a bike shop ship my bike home for me.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Using a Bump Box while biking
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2019, 07:55:03 am »
On a long tour, I leave a big box of spare parts and extra supplies at home or with a friend. When I need something, I just tell whoever has the box what to send me and where to send it (where I will be in a few days). It's kind of like a bump box, but you don't send it to yourself, and you get to pick what's in it while you're on the road.

+1. When I was on the road for four months shooting B&W film I had my mom send my fresh rolls using General Delivery mail. I tell her send me X big rolls (120) and Y small rolls (35mm). Worked quite well.

Offline TCS

Re: Using a Bump Box while biking
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2019, 08:26:23 am »
It's hard - neigh impossible - to invent anything truly new in cycling.  In the old days (100 years ago or more) well-heeled cycletourists would every morning instruct their lodgings to schlepp their dunnage to the train station and ship it to their hotel for that coming evening.  Show up, check in, your gear is waiting.   :)
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Using a Bump Box while biking
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2019, 09:19:52 am »
One thing about using General Delivery mail: Try to ship to larger cities/towns. The post office in somewhere like Sleepy Town, ND, may have limited hours.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Using a Bump Box while biking
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2019, 09:46:05 am »
One thing about using General Delivery mail: Try to ship to larger cities/towns. The post office in somewhere like Sleepy Town, ND, may have limited hours.
Be careful with that too.  Bigger towns and cities will have multiple post offices so you will need to be sure you know which one to go to.  Also that post office might be a considerable distance off route in a large town/city.  We got burned on that once.  So you need to do more detailed research if you go that route.  After being burned once I usually just try to choose a town that probably has one post office.  That was generally easier for us anyway since we tended to avoid bigger towns and cities.

I have used general delivery to get food drops when backpacking.  That has involved post offices that weren't in what you could even consider towns and yes hours could be pretty limited.  Sometimes the post office was a closet in the general store and contracted out to non federal employees.  Maybe I was just lucky, but in those places they generally opened up the closet/postoffice and got my package even when they weren't officially open if the general store was open.

Btw, I have found that if you miss a post office being open and not want to wait you can move on and stop at any post office and request that your package be forwarded to another post office further along on your route.  We bumped some of our boxes along several times.  We did it for multiple reasons including closed post offices, changed routes, and not being ready for what was in the package.  They never batted an eye and there was no extra charge.  I guess you could extend the 30 day holding limit that way as well, but there may be some risk that they might see the first date and return it to the return address.  One postal employee suggested that we could work around that by using a general delivery address as the return address.  Seems a little sketchy to me though.  I considered maybe using that dodge to get my soft case to the end of a long tour, but have not done so.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Using a Bump Box while biking
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2019, 09:47:09 am »
I'd agree with shipping to larger towns, but when you get to cities it could be inconvenient to ride 10 miles out of your way because it went to the post office on the west side when you're crossing south on the east side of the city.  Anywhere with a population over a couple thousand should be good.

Some of your better stories will come from the small towns, though.  I had to ask if I'd read the sign right that said last mail pickup was at 10:00 a.m.  In that small town, where the post office was part of the general store, yep, that was right!  But I daresay you could pick up mail there until the store closed -- or until the postmaster went over to the hardware store to pick something up.  :)


Offline staehpj1

Re: Using a Bump Box while biking
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2019, 10:02:06 am »
Something else occurred to me.  My memory is sketchy on this so I may not remember the details right, but I think in one case we actually went to the trouble of figuring out which post office was on our route in a small-ish city sent to general delivery at that zip code and when we arrived they said all general delivery packages go to the post office on the other side of town in a different zip code.  I think it cost us a couple hours.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2019, 10:03:52 am by staehpj1 »

Offline brhoward

Re: Using a Bump Box while biking
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2019, 02:03:23 pm »
Thanks for all the replies and ideas. My biggest worry is tires. Also, I'm riding a trike with a trailer, so 3 different sizes of said tires, not just say 700c for a road or hybrid bike. Over the years, when I have a flat on my roadbike running say 100-110 psi, l'll have un-repairable damage to the tire. But then again, at lower pressures on the trike and running the best marathons I can find in the closest sizes, I'm hoping that just a tube replacement will be all that's necessary to at least get me to the next town/bikeshop/warmshowers contact/etc. I can then, at worst, have the items sent from home. And to remember, spending an extra day or two waiting on mail, is better than punching a timeclock any day!!!

Offline staehpj1

Re: Using a Bump Box while biking
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2019, 05:28:34 pm »
Having the right sizes at home and ready with someone willing to mail/ship them is definitely something I'd do on an extended tour.  A bump box isn't a great answer for that as it would likely never be in the right place at the right time.

That all said, in a pinch if a patch, tube, boot, or whatever don't get you going hitching a ride to the closest bike shop is generally possible.  A trike with a trailer complicates that a little, but in the more rural parts of the country people are more helpful and more of them drive pickup trucks.

I toured with a guy who was using a trailer and had a run of bad luck.  I don't think he was ever more than 20 minutes waiting for someone to pull over and help him even in very rural parts of the southwest.  In some cases he got rides long distances that took people way out of their way.

The few times I or someone I was touring with needed to get a lift, I (we) similarly never had trouble getting a ride.  In some cases we were on roads where there were only a couple cars or trucks per day.  In those cases pretty much every one stopped.

For what it is worth, none of those car/truck rides were because of tire trouble we were always able to fix a tire well enough to get to somewhere with a replacement.  I have always been able to patch or boot a tire and get going again even a pretty badly damaged one.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Using a Bump Box while biking
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2019, 05:41:59 pm »
One other thing on tires...  If you will tour where there are goat head thorns and are not familiar with them be sure you know what they look like.  Stay on the pavement and if you pull off at all check for thorns before pulling out again.  If you get punctures be sure to remove the offending thorns.  They will work their way through any tire.  Some tubeless setups will heal, the tubeless setup on my MTB handles them just fine.  Heavy tires and slime tubes are ineffective IME unless you just avoid the thorns.  It just takes longer for them to flat.

Personally, I'd rather avoid the super heavy duty tires like Marathon Pluses and similar.  They weigh enough that you could carry a spare tire in each size and still be at the same weight, not that I carry spares, but you could if that concerned.  I really can't stand the stiff sidewall on the MP, just hate the ride feel.  I don't like the extra rotating mass much either, but that is me.  Some people don't mind either.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Using a Bump Box while biking
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2019, 12:14:05 am »
I always choose one-post-office towns. Hours for all post offices are available online.