I'm slowly locking in all my details for IM Coeur D'Alene in June and I'm wondering whether to use the bike transport option (more costly, less hassle) or rent a bike case and fly with my bike (a bit less expensive but obviously tons more hassle). Does anyone have experience with either that could offer me suggestions/advice?
use Tribike Transport (or the like) if they have it
If you can afford it, use bike transport. I've done 2 races where I have packed my bike in a bike case and have had no issues whatsoever. Keep in mind that regular people and pros do it all the time especially with overseas races.
I have the kind of bike case where I don't need to take the bike completely apart. I just took the seat, pedals, and wheels off. The tribars/handle bars, I took it semi-off and turned it sideways (i.e., I had no need to remove all of the cables, bolts, and screws).
Also keep in mind that some airlines charge up to $150 per segment so it might not be cheaper to fly. The flights that I've take in the past (Southwest) charge only $50 so it saved me a bit of money.
If you fly with the bike, don't forget that TSA will probably open the box to inspect it. Don't pack any CO2 canisters (they are prohibited), buy them at the race expo. Pack the bike box in sections, so it's easy to inspect and repack after they go through it. Try to be there when they inspect it, tell them what they are looking at, and without touching anything, "gently" direct them on repacking.
Or just use the bike transport option.
Justin, I did CDA last year and am heading back this year. I'm going to use TriBiketransport again. I was able to pick my bike up at the IM village with no hassles. You can also have a bag and wheels sent out for a fee. After the race I just took my bike over to the TriBike tent and dropped it off or wait until Monday. Believe me, when you are flying to an IM race, there are so many things going on and the last thing you want to deal with is carrying your bike with you. -Hugh
Ryan and I drove our bike to IMFL, a whole 15 hours. Then we raced and drove back. We didn't want to let our babies out of our site. Hell I even took an extra bike for the Vietnamese Royalty.
Seriously though, I have heard Bike Transport is the way to go. It is hassle and worry free, and Hugh is right. You have enough on your plate for that weekend. I took a whole week off to cushion any stress of that weekend.
going against the trend as usual.
if you are already renting a big enough car for the bike at the airport to your hotel, and you have a direct flight then personally i take the bike on the flight.
i understand what others are saying but personally i would be more stressed out if my bike was not with me when i got off the plane. for me, putting the bike together when i got there was not a stressfull event at all and actually relieved stress because "i know" that the bike is there and put together by someone i trust, this is provided you know how to put your bike together and break it down.
then again if you do not know how to do that then i would agree it "could be" very stressful doing it the first time.
each to their own.
I've flown with my bike every time I've had a race I had to fly to. My boyfriend, Ron, rents the bike cases if you are looking to rent. I think he has three or four of them now. He also has great directions on breaking the bike down and putting it back together which came in very helpful the time I did a race when he wasn't there to help me put my bike together. It's great to practice this before you travel if you haven't done it. I would advise to check out the airline's rates online before getting to the airport. Last May I was planning to bring my bike to Iowa over Memorial Day weekend. When they said it would cost me about $170 each way I had Ron come back and get the bike. It would have cost me more than the actual flight. This was Delta/Northwest. They used to be $80 each way but decided to jack up the price and doubled it. Boooo! I have gotten a free voucher to fly it to some IM races when I chose to fly on USAirways, their discount at the time.