Many who plan to participate in out-of-town triathlon events find that one of the biggest logistical challenge is often transporting their bike to the race site. The best way to find out who is offering shipping service is for a particular event is to go to their website and see if they designated an official shipping service company. If the race did not designate, then local/area bike shops are great resources for information and are most likely offering some type of service to accommodate out of town athletes. For instance, J&A is the official bike shop for the 2010 Longhorn 70.3 event. We offer a shipping service that helps athletes with bike assembly, bike transport to the race site, bike disassembly, and boxing & shipping the bike (shipping fees not included).
Most major bike transport services will ship to all regions. Tribike Transport, for instance, services multiple races around the U.S and even offers a charter flight for bikes to the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. Some transport services are specific to a state or city like Tri Team Transport which offers bike transport for athletes in the state of Texas to major Ironman and Half Ironman events.
Athletes often ask us whether it is better to ship a bike or take it with them when they fly to the race. There are a few disadvantages to shipping a bike. Depending on the service you select, bikes may be passed through multiple hands which can lead to possible damage. In rare instances it can get lost or stolen. The best part about shipping a bike pre-event is that you do not have to travel with a bike, which can be very stressful. You will have to lug it around the airport and there are potential fiscal surprises you may face when you are checking in your luggage (i.e additional fees the airline might tack on when they see that you are traveling with a bike). There have also been rare instances where the bike does not make a flight, goes MIA for awhile and arrives much later than the athlete. The best part about flying with a bike is that you can train on it longer. Some athletes also feel better knowing their bike is always "with" them, so to speak.
Once you've chosen your method of shipment, it's time to prepare your bike for departure. If you would like to take your bike with you on a plane, then you will have to rent or buy a bike box. J&A offers Trico Hard Cases for rent or purchase. You or your local bike shop will also have to disassemble your bike to pack it in the bike box and then reassemble it upon arrival at the race site. (J&A can help you pack your bike before departure.)
If you plan to ship your bike you should take your pedals and rear drink system off to prevent snagging and breakage. To protect the bike's finish you can wrap the main tubes in padding (pipe insulation or bubble wrap). As previously mentioned, you will not have your bike for a week leading up to your race. If you plan to ride, then you need to make sure you have a second bike (yours or borrowed) or have access to a stationary bike at home or in a gym.
Once you arrive at the race and pick up your bike you should reinstall your pedals and drink system and give it a short ride to make sure everything on your bike is ready to race. This only needs to be around the block, you do not want to have to replace a tire because you ran over glass the day before your big race.
After your race you can drop you bike off with the transport company. They should be set up near transition, probably where you picked up your bike. They can help you take off your pedals and drink system and they will take your bike back home for you. They will send you an email once your bike is at the bike shop that you chose. Once the bike arrives at the shop you should make arrangements to pick it up or have your shop clean it for you. Energy drinks and sweat can be very harsh on your bike if they are left on there too long. Even if you are not ready to ride again, your bike should be ready when you are.