Most of us start mountain biking reasonably close to where we live. We ride local trails, maybe make forays to neighboring areas, and figure out the sport. But at some point, it becomes time to broaden your horizons as a rider. Maybe you’ve been saving up for that vacation to some mountain bike mecca, maybe you have to go on a business trip somewhere that happens to be a riding destination, maybe you’ve just got the bug to ride somewhere new. No matter the reason, traveling to mountain bike is always fun. But packing for that trip can be challenging, and mistakes are expensive. So here’s our comprehensive guide with tips and techniques to help make packing a breeze.
If you’re driving to your destination, packing is easy. Just put your bike on the rack, and then throw literally all the bike-related stuff you own into the car. You’ll still forget something, but you’ll have most of the essentials. However, if you’re flying, you’re going to need to be more sophisticated. The hardest part of flying to ride is getting your mountain bike on a plane for a reasonable cost. Google the baggage policies of the airline you’ll be flying with, and make sure you follow them.
There are several methods for packing your bike for a flight. Many people just use an old cardboard bike box. You can probably get one at your local bike shop, maybe even for free, and in many cases, the shop can help you pack it, too. A bike box isn’t as sturdy as a bike bag, but when you get to your destination and unpack your bike, you can just throw it away, and grab a new one for the way home, instead of lugging it around all trip.
Another option is a bike travel bag. Bike bags are specifically made with special padding and compartments to keep your bike safe. They generally do a better job of protecting it than a cardboard box, but they also weigh more and cost more.
No matter how you pack your bike, pack smart. Don’t waste space on foam padding, instead use extra jerseys, shorts, and socks to pad your bike. That way when you unpack it, you have everything you need to ride.
Another option is to ship your bike to a shop at your destination and put it back together there. Bikeflights.com is an affordable way to do this.
Once you’ve got your bike taken care of, it’s time to pack the rest of your gear. Bike shoes, can often fit in the box or bag with your bike. However, it’s worth taking extra care with your mountain bike helmet and carrying it onto the plane. Helmets are expensive and rather fragile. You don’t want baggage handlers smashing it, or piling heavy boxes on top of it. Keep your helmet with you at all times.
You’ll probably want to bring your own multitool and pump, it’s a good idea to pack them with your bike. Some security agents are suspicious of multitools. Make sure you leave any CO2 canisters at home, however, they are not allowed on most flights.
Finally, you’ll probably want to bring your own hydration pack. Make sure it’s empty of water when you go through security. Many hydration packs fit well within a larger carryon, or, if you use a hip pack, you can wear it as a personal item.
If that all sounds like too much of a hassle for you, fear not, there’s an easier solution! Nearly any riding destination worth visiting will have a good local bike shop with a rental fleet. Skip out on hauling a heavy bike box through the airport, and paying expensive baggage fees. Instead, just plan ahead and rent a bike at your destination. That way there’s no scramble to fit the bike on a cab, or in a hotel room. Just pick it up when you’re ready to ride. You’ll still want to carry on your helmet and pack your other gear, however.
Mountain biking your home trails is great, but it’s always worth it to expand your horizons. So buy those plane tickets, and take that dream trip. Use this guide to pack your bike and gear, and make the most of every mile of new trail.
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