We have covered many topics regarding the traveling triathlete – everything from what to eat to what to wear to how to stay fit. Today, we’re going a little deeper. Many of our Twitter followers have asked, “How do I TSA-proof my bike?” With our upcoming trip to Kona for next week’s World Championship (Go Amy!), it’s a good time to discuss packing your bike for a destination race.
Amy mentioned in an earlier post that she packs her cycling shoes, race kit and running shoes in her carry-on bag to ensure they don’t get lost in transit. Though you can’t pack your entire bike in a carry-on, there is a safe and secure way to fly with your wheels. We have learned a lot in our travels, so I offer this video and step-by-step guide to packing your bike:
1. Mark your seat height on your seat post using electrical tape.
2. Note the position and tilt of your aerobars, so that you can be sure to correctly reinstall them.
3. Lay out everything you will put in your bike case, trying to pack as little as possible in order to keep the weight below 50 lbs.
4. Consolidate all gear into as few bags as possible. Some people pack their favorite energy gels in their bike case to make for a quick transition area set-up — everything is all in one bag. And don’t forget some snacks for your carry-on, so you don’t get stuck eating plane food.
5. Begin disassembling your bike:
- Remove the pedals, seat post, wheels and quick releases.
- Remove your handlebars. (I prefer to do this using the stem front plate, so I don’t have to readjust the headset bearings.)
- Remove the rear derailleur.
6. For best protection, remove accessories, such as a bike computer and bottle cages.
7. Place a fork spacer in the frame to help prevent crushing the fork blades.
8. You may also want to use wheel plugs in the hubs.
9. Wrap the tubes of the frame of the bike with padding, such as towels, foam or bubble wrap (a good way to recycle the packaging from your Vitacost order). I also recommend wrapping the seat, seat post, wheels and handlebars to reduce the risk of scratched or chipped paint. Protect the derailleur by wrapping it up and tucking it in a secure spot.
10. Carefully and strategically place all items in your bike case, zip it up and get ready for check-in.
Hint: Be prepared to pay between $50 and $150 each way for your bike bag to fly. Good luck and safe travels!
Amy Marsh is a four-time Ironman champion, two-time IronDistance champion, and was named the 2010 USAT Long Distance Triathlete of the Year. Brandon Marsh has been competing in triathlons since 1988, and can be counted on to be a top-10 contender in every event he enters. Got a question about swim-bike-run or sports nutrition for Team Marsh? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. ‘Like’ them on Facebook or follow on Twitter: Brandon @BrandonMarshTX and Amy @AmyCMarsh.