Author Topic: Getting to your start with all your stuff  (Read 6423 times)

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Offline Saburo

Getting to your start with all your stuff
« on: January 18, 2021, 11:22:14 am »
Trusting that there is no such thing as a stupid question:

I'm planning a Trans America tour in the late Spring.  My question is this...

I know that many people box their bike and ship it to their starting point.  But how have you gotten your gear there?  Did you ship your panniers, sleeping bag, etc. with your bike?  Separately?  Or did you carry your bags with you on the plane?  Or ?  It seems like it would be hard to get four panniers, and all your gear there on the plane but maybe there is a great way to do this....  Thanks.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2021, 11:58:52 am »
I just put it on the plane.  My Handlebar bag is my "personal item".  One rear pannier is a carry-on (if free, otherwise it is my 2nd checked bag).  The other rear pannier is my 1st check bag.  I tie the front panniers (if I am using) together so they are one unit and it is  my 2nd (or 3rd) checked bag.  The rack pack goes in the bike box.  I try to fly Southwest due to the baggage allowance IF I am flying.  You can always ship just one bag if needed as the cost for a 3rd bag can be quite high.

You could ship too.  Greyhound is usually relatively inexpensive to ship stuff but typically only ships station to station.  If using UPS or Fedex, ship to a hotel you will stay in at your arrival city. 

Depending on where you are and your time constraints, I have found that renting a minivan or smaller SUV is actually not that bad.  For instance, I am doing a tour this spring come hell, high water, or virus, from Atlanta to Charleston.  The cost to fly with bags (as described below is $140 + $75 for the bike.  Plus I have to get from the airport back to the actual start in Smyrna (where the last tour ended) say $5 in mass transit fees plus a hassle dealing with the city bus. So say $220 total. Plus I have to box the bike and reassemble it and hope the airline didn't break anything. I would arrive in ATL around 11am but realistically by the time I got to the hotel in Smyrna after reassembling my bike at the airport, I am look at around 3:00pm. Not bad. Would probably not start riding until the next morning around 9am.  If you have multiple travelers, there would be no cost savings.

For comparison, I can rent an SUV for $136 directly to Smyrna (takes about 12 hours of driving so one long day).  Figure $75 gas and tolls.  Total is $211.  I would probably arrive around 8am at the car rental drop off location and be on the road at 9am. If you have multiple travelers, you can save a lot since you can split a $153 minivan three ways (about 3 bikes, 3 people, and gear is max unless you disassemble the bike.  So if going as a couple, the cost would increase to ~$220 or $110 per person.

For me, I will drive instead of fly since I can just put the bike fully assembled in the back of the SUV, put the bags in and go.  Reverse to start riding.  For me, the extra time savings on flying is just used up by boxing the bike and reassembling the bike. 

If you have access to Amtrak with roll-on bike service, that can be another easy way but Amtrak can be a bit pricey at times.

Tailwinds, John

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2021, 01:51:48 pm »
We also have used Enterprise One way (they pick you up) to get back to our car at the starting point. We rented a pickup truck pretty cheaply. Also planning on doing that to get from Boston to DC for the start of our cross country. My daughter went to Georgetown and that was my move-in/move-out plan. Fly Jetblue one way and mini van back. Saved 7 hours of driving and an over night.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2021, 02:01:31 pm »
when I have taken Amtrak or plane I like to put everything in a big duffle and check it. Then  carry my helmet and handle bar bag is my carry-on. Twice I have purchased a $20 duffel at Walmart but others have suggested looking for a bag at the thrift shop etc.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2021, 02:34:32 pm »
It greatly depends on the situation. Almost every time I've done it, I've done it differently. I've done everything on this list.
  • The best situation is if you can start your tour directly from home by riding your bike out of your garage.
  • Next best is if the start is close enough that you can have a relative or friend drive you to the start.
  • Can you start your tour directly from some airport? I always prefer this if feasible. If so, bring your bike on the plane with you. Although I have used disposable duffle bags and thrift-store suitcases, I'm a big fan of just packing your gear in a sturdy cardboard box and checking it as luggage on the plane.
  • Are the airport and the start far enough apart that you cannot ride between the two? If so, I like to ship my bike to the start and then arrange ground transportation from the airport to wherever I shipped my bike.
  • Does Amtrak serve both your home area and the start, and does Amtrak have baggage service at both of those locations? Better yet, does Amtrak offer roll-on service on this route? If you have the time, Amtrak makes the logistics pretty simple. Amtrak charges for transporting the bike are trivial, and they allow almost unlimited luggage.


Offline jamawani

Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2021, 09:46:39 pm »
I prefer starting my tours in fabulous places - -
Not from an airport baggage carousel or my garage.
Same goes for end point.

Ease of getting everything there and exactly where you want it:
1. Your car/truck. (Just toss everything in the back and go)
2. One-way rental. (Enterprise >> OR >> UHaul cargo van)
3. Amtrak. (Especially routes with roll-on service)
4. Airlines. (More and more expensive every year)
93,291. Greyhound. (Also known as "Riding the dog")

For coast to coast trips, I have left my truck with a friend,
shipped most of my stuff home when done, and flown back to pick up the truck.
Another time I arranged to leave my car with a small-town mechanic.
Had some work done over the summer and it purred like a kitten when I got back.

Offline TCS

Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2021, 11:49:43 pm »

93,291. Greyhound. (Also known as "Riding the dog")


Why's that?
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2021, 07:13:42 am »
TCS - From your tag line referring to touring in North Cornwall I assume you are in the UK. Greyhound, unless you were joking, is a bus line that covers most of the US.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline jamawani

Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2021, 07:25:11 am »
Why's that?

1. Woman overdoses in back of bus.
2. Aisle floor like flypaper from beverage spills.
3. Mentally ill person talking loudly to nobody and everybody.
4. Homeland Security empties bus on side of highway in the middle of the night.
5. Terrified young Chinese couple with toddler sitting on front row.
6. Filthy bus stations in major cities.
7. Baggage charges almost as bad as airlines.
8. Long delay when driver quits mid-route.
9. And more.

(Because I have toured for 33 years, I've done way too much Greyhound.)

Offline staehpj1

Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2021, 07:53:17 am »
I flew with my bike and my stuff my first tour (Trans America).  The bike was in a box and the gear was in another.  They made me sign a waiver saying they were only responsible for loss and not damage because stuff was in cardboard instead of  luggage.  Since then I have used other methods including cheap duffle bags and thrift store luggage.  I like picking up a used bag for $7-8 and disposing of it at the airport.

That all works well for me since I like to ride out of the airport.  For folks who don't, shipping to a bike shop, warmshowers host, or other place can be a good option.  Using a shipper like shipbikes.com or bikeflights.com can be pretty reasonable.   Bike shops will typically receive and assemble your bike for a fee.

I pack really light these days with ultralight camping gear so I can get bike and gear into one soft case and keep it all under 50#.  If I go over a little it can go in a little personal item sized backpack.  I have not needed a a second checked bag or even a carry on bag on recent trips.

I like to get to the start by flying with the bike, but at the end of the tour I tend to be happy to pay a bike shop to pack it up and ship it home for me.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2021, 08:50:11 am »
I have to admit that Greyhound is not that great and will avoid them if possible but I have ridden Jefferson Bus Lines (which I think goes to Jama's town) about 5 times and never had an issue. 

Always clean, on time, the driver's don't put up with crap from unruly passengers, etc.  My only complaint is that I once wanted to use them but there was no way I could get a bike box (or cardboard available to make one) since it was a "roadside stop" for the bike and they would not allow me to place the unboxed bike on the bus.  Since I was calling to see if they would, maybe they just rejected me based on policy and the driver might not have when I was just standing there.  Since I couldn't guarantee a spot for the bike, I chose a different destination.

Maybe I was just lucky or Jama was unlucky.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2021, 05:10:36 pm »
I know in the Northeast there is Bolt and Megabus which are super clean, super discount options my kids used when in college. Not sure if they would take a bike on board.

Bolt has currently suspend service due to COVID https://www.boltbus.com/

https://us.megabus.com/
Mega Bus Policy  :-\

Can I take my bicycles, skis, snowboards, golf clubs, or musical instruments on board the bus?
Unfortunately megabus buses are unable to carry these items unless they are in a case that does not exceed the dimensions stated in the luggage policy.

For guidance, this case must not exceed 62 inches when adding the total exterior dimensions of the piece (length + width + height) and should not weigh more than 50 pounds.

Megabus cannot store these items if they are out of a case due to the potential for damage to other customers' luggage.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2021, 05:15:57 pm by HikeBikeCook »
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline TCS

Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2021, 08:00:05 pm »
TCS - From your tag line referring to touring in North Cornwall I assume you are in the UK.

The tag line is a running gag from the classic Monty Python episode-long sketch 'The Cycling Tour'.

PS - I'm not in the UK but Greyhound is.  Greyhound is owned by the UK First Group company.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2021, 08:35:46 pm by TCS »
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline TCS

Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2021, 08:00:55 pm »
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline TCS

Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2021, 08:18:39 pm »
Quote
...Jefferson Bus...Bolt...Megabus...

A bit back, France and Germany did away with their laws that for all intents and purposes had prevented long-distance bus travel.

An outfit called Flixbus got started in Germany.  Yeah, German, so you can bet everything was clean, nobody misbehaved and they ran on time.

They discovered folks wanted to travel with their bikes.  They discovered they could make money making it easy for folks to travel with their bikes.

http://docplayer.net/104534988-Flixbus-a-smart-and-green-cycling-experience-for-everyone-martin-bethge-senior-network-planning-september-2018-eurovelo-and-cycle-tourism.html

Flixbus came to the USA, starting operations in California and Texas - with bike racks on their American buses!

COVID hit.    :o  :-\   :(

Moving into the future I'd be pleased and tickled for Adventure Cycling to partner with Flixbus & co-promote, similar to the deal with Amtrak. 


Anyway, as soon as I can get vaccinated I'm planning on packing the folder and riding Vonlane bus (ne plus ultra bus) down to Austin for a little urban touring.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2021, 09:37:54 am by TCS »
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."