One of the most important technical items for improved race results that I have tried so far in this very new year is Pro Bike Express. This is a service to transport race bikes to races, and it is way more than that as well.
I used Pro Bike Express to transport my bikes to cyclocross nationals in Madison, WI, and I had no idea going in how great it would be. At $200 for the first bike, $55 for the second bike, and $25/pair for additional wheels, the $280 I invested for two bikes and a third pair of wheels was a significant chunk of what I had planned to spend for the entire trip. That price also included taking the bikes to Louisville, KY for the masters world ’cross championships, which I’m not doing (as it falls on my wife’s birthday). So I paid for two trips for my bikes, which are now in Louisville without me, but there was no other pricing option.
Still, even without racing worlds, the math wasn’t too hard, given the amount United would have charged for those items simply to Madison and back. However, as it was the first time I had flown to a cyclocross race of any kind, much less to race nationals, I was not considering myriad other details that made it a smart investment beyond the simple math.
For instance, one of my Boulder Cycle Sport teammates, Allen Krughoff, has been traveling all season to USGP races and now to nationals aboard Frontier Airlines, which charges him nothing for two bikes (two free checked items, and bikes count no more than any other suitcase!). I was flying free on United frequent flyer miles, but that calculation certainly had me thinking twice about my decision. However, now I’m very glad I did it the way I did.
Some things I had not considered were transport and storage of my bikes and equipment during the week, a service that is included in the fee I paid to Pro Bike Express. Getting a huge rental van or SUV would have been required, and it would have undoubtedly gotten muddy on the inside, conceivably incurring more charges.
And had I been staying at a hotel, overnight storage of muddy bikes would have required fast talking or skulking around — in any case, extra time. I instead was staying with an old college buddy and his family. His wife picked me up at the airport, and I borrowed one of their cars for the week. That car never would have fit a single one of my giant bikes, much less two muddy ones and lots of other gear. I could also leave my muddy shoes and boots with Pro Bike Express each night, rather than getting mud all over their car and house.
The weather turned out to be unseasonably warm and dry in Madison, but it could have been bitterly cold, snowing, and/or raining, in which case the six, tall, interconnected tents attached to the Pro Bike Express trailer would have been life savers. As it was, these tents and the trailer itself, with two large propane heaters, a dozen Saris stationary trainers, bike stands, pumps, tools, tables, chairs, brewing coffee, and room for lots of gear inside, were a great place to change, work on bikes, and warm up, especially in below-freezing morning temperatures.
With so many friends from home using the same Pro Bike Express service, plus lots of others who had not signed on for the service but who gravitated to where we were parked, it was like a mini Boulder in Wisconsin. It’s nice to feel like you have a home field advantage when you’re so far afield!
The huge Pro Bike Express trailer transports 50 bikes, and proprietor Wesley Smith’s truck bed with its camper top will hold lots more gear. The trailer is fully rigged with electricity and burglar alarms.
Smith just bought the company from Wheatridge Cyclery (former 7-11 star Ron Kiefel’s shop) in Wheatridge, Colorado, which had run this service through 2011 out of the shop. Smith is a bike mechanic with a deep desire to serve others and a love for driving long distances, all of which make him perfect to run this operation of his! Even though I had expected to do all of my own work on my bikes, Smith repeatedly offered to clean my bikes after training rides on the course (and I took him up on it)! I’m sure I’ll be a repeat customer of Smith’s for 2013 nationals in Madison.