On The Road: How to Travel to your Next Race

On The Road: How to Travel to your Next Race

Gear is washed, nutrition is collected, bike is broken down...Wait, bike is broken down? Travelling to a triathlon can feel just as stressful as race day - especially if you're travelling by air. We've compiled a few tips and tricks to help your travel day go smoother and get you to the race stress free! (written by Megan Tuncer)


Flying with a bike will probably be one of the most challenging parts of your trip (just being honest here!). I always try to get to a race a few days before race day for "just in cases" -- just in case your bike gets lost or delayed, just in case your bike gets damaged, just in case ______ (insert any stress situation here). It may not be possible for everyone as it does add to accommodation needs, but I've found that in the few times I've flown to a race, it's decreased my anxiety a TON. 

Depending on the type of case you have -- my soft Scicon case can fit my full frame and aero bars -- you may have to partly disassemble your bike to pack it. The pieces that you often will have to remove include the pedals, saddle, handlebars, derailleur and wheels. If you don't learn anything else from this post, just remember this: mark your fit/measurements with tape or markers before taking it all apart. You'll thank yourself later when you aren't "guessing" your setup in the hotel before the race. 

When packing up your bike, pack it as though your bike will get tossed and piled below other luggage. The reality is...it probably will. Packing cushion is key. I often wrap my frame with bubble wrap and fill the bag in with extra clothing (just make sure it stays under the weight limit!). If you can remove your derailleur, I highly recommend it (or at least shift it down and cover it with a cage if your case comes with that extra protection).

I also tie a PVC pipe across my handlebars to help reinforce them if something heavy gets tossed onto my bag. I started doing this after seeing numerous friends show up to races with cracked and bent handlebars. 


That CO2 cartridge that you JUST purchased? Leave it at home. TSA isn't a huge fan of compressed gas canisters in the air.

Another one that people might not think about is power meters -- if you have a pedal-based power meter and it uses a battery, there's a good chance it's lithium, and lithium shouldn't be checked on planes. According to US FAA guidelines (and most guidelines around the world), lithium batteries should ONLY be in carry-on bags


How long are you travelling? What will the weather be like? Is there nutrition that you need to carry with you? Is there nutrition that you can buy at the race location? How many water bottles do you need? There's a lot to think about when packing what feels like your life into a small suitcase. Here are some tricks I've picked up through the years: 

1. Like I mentioned above, your bike bag IS a checked bag! I'll add my cycling shoes and running shoes in the bag (also wrapped up) and put them between the fork for a bit of extra reinforcement. As long as your bag isn't overweight, you're allowed to pack more than just a bike in a bike bag!

2. Race day needs get packed in your carry-on bag. This is so important that perhaps it should be listed first. Checked bags can get lost or delayed, and it would be awful if you had to miss a race just because your gear was held up at the airport. 

3. Nutrition - do you have nutrition that can't be purchased in a store at the race site? Make sure it's travelling with you. However, if it's something that can be found in a lot of stores (ex: whole foods like pb&j, Nuun, Gu, etc.), consider purchasing it at your final destination to save space in your bag. 

Oh and that while hydration powder you're thinking about packing in a non-descript plastic bag? Consider labelling or just keeping it in the bag. File "unidentified white power" under "things TSA doesn't love." It'll just save time and questions. 

4. Make a list. And then cross off the objects ONLY after you've placed them INSIDE your bag. Not in the room, not next to the bag...inside the bag. As I'm sure you can guess, I have experienced the heartbreak of leaving contact lenses NEXT TO my bag. 


Competing outside of your home base can be a great opportunity to try new courses, meet new people and race against new competition. However, when you have to pack up and travel to a new location, it can also add new stress to the process. Plan ahead, plan often and accept that at the end of the day, something will go wrong. All you can do is prepare and enjoy the (plane) ride. 

Are there any tips or tricks that you've picked up that I missed? Send me an email at megan@a2bikes.com or message us on social media! 

Looking for a packing list? Stay tuned...that's coming next!