Plan C

Day –30 • January 31, 2012 • Packing Up and Going Home

Recently my friend Peter asked me what I thought was the best part of a trip–  before, during, or after.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately as I’ve been buried in preparation for this trip while simultaneously trying to extricate myself from my day job.  My current answer is that the order, from best to worst, is during, before, then after.  Of course a trip like this is all about the “during” and Zoe and I have high hopes that this one will be great.  But all we really know at this point is that it will be, for us, epic. We also have high hopes for the “after”, expecting this to be an adventure we’ll remember for a lifetime.  But I’ve never been one to dwell too much on past glory.  Living looking backward at past accomplishments with nothing big or challenging ahead–  how sad is that?  Which leads us to the “before.”  The planning and myriad little projects required to pull off a trip like this might be tedious at the end of a trip but right now they’re a blast and a great distraction from the stress of real work.  In fact I’m having so much fun that I’m undoubtedly over-planning.  I expect to throw much of our day-to-day plans out the window as we roll with the opportunities and punches of life on the road.  As the saying goes, it’s all about the planning (not the plan).  Here’s my latest planning project:  How to get us and all of our gear back home?

I’ve heard of people selling their gear at the end of the trip rather than deal with getting it safely home.  That’s a creative and somewhat compelling solution but we’ve got way too much invested in our stuff, monetarily and emotionally, to just sell it.  Our machines aren’t just the ultimate touring setup, they’re also the way we get around town for work and school.  So we’ve got to get our stuff back.  For even highly portable trikes like the Trice this poses some added challenges compared to a bike.

We considered finding someone willing to take our gear back via car, but that would require more coordination and uncertainty than I was willing to accept.  We ruled out shipping the stuff back because it’s pretty expensive considering it could all go along with us for free as checked baggage.  But not on an airline anymore, so we ruled that one out.  Which left the train.  To the penny the same price as airline tickets but with a considerably more liberal baggage policy and arguably less handling.  And it’s, well, a train ride—an adventure all by itself.  It seemed like a fitting end to our epic trip.  So here are all the logistics:  Lisa (and my mom) will drive us to the starting point in Fort Bragg, CA.  Near the end of the trip, when we know for sure where we’ll stop pedaling, Lisa will mail us the pre-fabricated packing supplies.  Zoe and I will tear down and package the trike and Trets, stuff it in a car (a rental if we don’t wind up near a willing driver), and drive to New York City to meet Lisa.  Meanwhile Lisa will drive the car to Salt Lake City, the nearest Amtrak station since Boise lost passenger service a decade or so ago.  There she’ll hop a plane to New York City where we’ll spend a long weekend together.  Then we’ll all hop the train at Penn Station and chug back to Salt Lake.  Hop in the car, drive back to Boise, and we’re home.  What could go wrong?

With transportation settled I turned to packing.  Amtrak allows two carry-on bags (28” x 22” x 14”) and three checked bags (36” x 36” x 36”) per person, 50 lbs max for each.  With three of us travelling that’s pretty much unlimited with the right containers.  I inherited some ready-made shipping boxes designed specifically for my trike.  And my brother’s, and his wife’s, and my mom’s—yeah, we all ride the same trike.  My brother Mark and his wife Katie built these things out of 1/4 inch corrugated cardboard and they’re bomber, as in able to withstand a bomb.

  • Plan A used their big box, 47” x 36” x 22”, to hold my trike and Zoe’s Trets.  I had to cut the big dimension down to meet the 36” limit but still had plenty of room. For the wheels I sewed a duffle bag that holds all five wheels plus most of our gear.  And for a couple of odd-sized items that didn’t fit anywhere else—the trike rack and seat—I bought a large REI duffle bag.  Job done, until I weighed the big box—75 lbs.  Not even close.
  • Plan B – I added Mark and Katie’s smaller airline-friendly box to hold the trike frame, offloading it from the big box.  This solved the weight problem, high fives all around.  Until I got to thinking what it would be like to transport that big box in New York.  That thing barely fits in my Expedition and I don’t want to have to rent an SUV.
  • Plan C – I replaced the big box with another custom made (by me) bag for the Trets.  I’m a little nervous about using bags for the frames but will heavily pad them with bubble wrap and anything else I can find.  So Plan C is the plan of record.  And look, Zoe’s smiling!  It’s got to be a good plan.

IMG_7408IMG_7414

IMG_7423

Trike box 26” x 26” x 10” 24 lb Most of the trike frame
Trike bag 36” x 18” dia 15 lb Trike rear rack and seat
Trets bag 36” x 25” x 15” 22 lb Trets frame
Wheel bag 36” x 20” dia 45 lb All five wheels plus most of our gear.  Packing is one of the reasons for keeping the rear wheel the same size as the fronts.

5 thoughts on “Plan C

  1. Hi Kurt,
    I rode with Mark and Katie last summer and they told me about your xcountry plan. I am looking forward to following your adventures as I have a 4 year old that I would love to do this with when she is a bit older. I am very curious as how you hitched your trets to the Q.
    Have a great trip!
    Michell

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    • Hi Michell,
      The Trets comes with a Weber E-Hitch. Like most two-wheeled trailers there is a piece that attaches to the axle of the trike/bike. It comes with multiple washers to work with a variety of rear hubs, one of them works perfectly with my conventional Shimano XTR quick release rear hub. It should also work fine with most internal hubs but I haven’t tried that. The piece on the trailer is a beefy bayonette style mechanism with a key lock for minor theft prevention. As far as I can tell this is the typical European alternative to the various hitch systems we have in the US. For example a Chariot trailer in the US comes with a nylon ball for a hitch. The same model ordered in Europe comes with the Weber. The hitch works well, seems beefier than the nylon ball but not sure if that’s really true. I did buy a replacement on the bike-side for the trip because after a while an internal rubber/nylon piece (for shock absorption I think) degrades. The hitch still works fine but it starts rattling. Replacement (bike-side only) from Hase is about $50 USD.

      Good luck on your trip. Start planning now, it’s fun:)

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      • Thanks Kurt for the info and the photos. Maybe when you are riding through Colorado my kids and I could meet you, we live in Louisville. It would be fun to get the bunch we had ride together last summer to give you an escort for some miles!

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      • Let’s plan on it! We’ll be riding on the greenbelt trails from south of downtown Denver to Thornton where my parents live. Maybe we could join up on that leg. Or maybe on the way out of town. I’m hoping to convince my mom to join us on her trike too. And Chip and his wife. I don’t think I need to convince Mark and Katie. Maybe a trike rally will materialize.

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  2. We spray painted our Boxes, mostly to make them at least a little water resistant. Plain cardboard might start to fail if it gets very wet. Plus, now we can put cool stickers on our boxes.

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