Practice makes perfect, trip preparations

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meet scooby in sweden

Things do not happen perfectly just by themselves, it takes lots of thought and preparation to make things go off without a hitch. We all know people that I affectionately call “drama queens”. They always have the most amazingly dramatic stories to tell about horrible situations and problems … because the manufacture drama. They love drama, I dont. If you want drama when you are traveling to another country to do multi-week bike camping then you throw a bunch of stuff in a suitcase at the last minute and then, surprise, surprise, you forget something important and have to take taxi rides all over town to various bike shops to find the thing you forgot. No, I am an engineer and we do not like drama. The reason that even major switchovers happen with even a hiccup is that we practice. We do trial runs till we get it right.

This bike trip is no different and I am VERY excited about my upcoming ride in Sweden. Even though it is 2 months away I have already been doing a lot of trip preparations. Since I have not packed this bike before I want to do an entire dry run here to make sure I am not missing any vital tool or piece of equipment. Here is what I am doing:

  • Pack up bike, camping gear, and carry on bags as if I was getting on the airplane
  • Pretend I just arrived in Sweden, unpack bike, load it up.
  • Ride bike to a park, set up tent, faux-camping
  • Break camp, bike home
  • Repack bike and all gear like I was getting back on the airplane

Might seem like overkill but with a trip that is so short I do not want to waste any time looking for bike shops for that tool/helmet/shoe that I forgot. Besides, I am an engineer and I like doing trial runs, its what we do to make things look effortless :)

Packing a full sized bike into a suitcase is not exactly a simple matter. It was a lot easier in the old days but now the TSA routinely opens odd luggage and every single time I have traveled with my bike, I have found an inspection ticket in it when I arrived. Because of this, you have to pack extra carefully because although I may have infinite patience to pack it properly so as to avoid damage, the TSA has no such patience so I have to make it easy for them. Not only does the bike need to be properly padded, scratch proof, and crush proof but it also has to stay together in a big un-moveable ball so that when the TSA pulls it out, they can easily put it back in just the way they found it.

Packing a bike is an art and I have had three different travel bikes, two Bike Fridays and this Co-Motion.  What I have found is that although they give packing instructions they always are just a starting point.  Since I am a very tall person and my bikes are big, they almost fit in the way the instructions say to pack them and I always have to do a lot more disassembly than most people do.  In fact, to get my Co-Motion into the case, very little was left assembled.   These companies claim that it is “quick” to assemble and disassemble but what I have found is that even with practice you need to allow at least 3 hours for packing and 90 minutes for unpacking and assembly – dont let them convince you otherwise :)

No matter how good your memory, its always really, really difficult to remember how you got that bike to fit so well the first time so I always take layered pictures so I remember how it all fits in.  Here is a great example of the way my bike will be packed for my upcoming trip to Sweden: