What a welcome change. Adding a cycling day or afternoon in the midst of a business trip or other travel, breaks the rhythm of hotel, eat, drive, attend meeting (or tourist attraction), eat, sleep repeat. It returns those of us who cycle regularly to our sweet spot.
So when two-wheels available “for rent” signs are spotted, our hearts flutter just a bit. Don’t they?
But before you rent a bicycle for a week-long tour or some arduous adventure, ask yourself a few questions.
Where has the bike been? Was it recently rescued from a local ditch, left standing on a rainy sidewalk for days or has it been protected from elements indoors? Has it been involved in accidents? You know the answers you want to hear. Make sure you ask.
This naturally leads to the next question, where should I rent? Rent from a reputable shop with well maintained bicycles. Yes, that high-end shop may cost more but the bicycle that was available for free at the hotel had rusty bicycles with lumpy chains that bumped along for all of 200 feet before we gave up. Remember?
Okay, you’ve found a respectable establishment and the bicycles really do look like fairly recent models with excellent components. You are ready to sign that waiver to return their baby intact or face the consequences. What are the terms? Rental rate of $75.00 per day too much for the $500 mountain bike? And what exactly are you renting? Is it the road bike I rode for a week with my head hanging so far in front of the handlebars, I thought my nose preceded the wheel? That may be what you ride if no other size frame is in stock because the other bikes “haven’t been returned yet.” Ouch. But if you’ve reserved well in advance and at a fine shop, you’ll be golden. Confirm those critical fit issues in advance.
You’ve got that snazzy new model all ready to ride and its on to your event. How do you get there? How do you return the bike at the finish? What if the only place to rent is miles away? For loop tours in Colorado, we often see cyclists riding the rental to the start and back to the shop at the end of the tour. Otherwise, look for public transportation or hire a cab. Even better talk a local cyclist into helping you out.
Sometimes you’ll start at point A and end your adventures in location B. Your logistical challenges have just exploded. Some shops, for example Sockeye Cycle, may have multiple outlets where you can rent in one location and return in another. But that situation is rare so be prepared and be flexible. Bob Lucky has a great story on his site about logistics and returning rentals to London.
So why is that I’m renting a bicycle and I’m still bringing a lot of it with me? Consider your saddle and your pedals and shoes. Those are major “touch points” on a bicycle where you may want your personal items swapped for the rental gear. Do you really want to break-in a different saddle for a week? And your cycling shoes! Are you buying a new pair? No, so bring your shoes and your pedals! We also are comfortable with the knowledge of the pump, tools and other contents of the saddle bag that we like to have on tour. Why are you bringing your computer? Cause we all want the data at some point! So pack up all your extra stuff and prepare to haul it along. And remember your helmet; you probably signed a waiver promising to wear it!
When will you rent a bicycle? We may never rent again as we are now comfortable traveling with our S&S coupled singles and tandem.
- Assembly takes little more than a hour about the same time spent in a rental shop getting set-up.
- We pack up all our associated gear and know exactly the state of all our equipment.
- Dis-assembly and packing takes little more than an hour while its back to the rental shop for others.
- Our bike cases measure 26 x 26 x 10 (no oversize & no over the weight limit charges on airlines) and travel fairly easily in cabs.
On the other hand, circumstances may arise where we will rent a performance bike for a day or two….just for fun you know!
Tail winds and thanks for reading and LIKING us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/buildyourtourllc)
In Situ travel has a good pro-con discussion posting on this topic for even more reading.