Starkey is leaving for his first cruise gig this week and has a question about bringing a bike:
I’m an avid mountain biker and would be sad to miss the opportunity to bike through some awesome Mediterranean country side. What are the thoughts out there [about bringing a bike]?
I’m a huge fan of biking. I think it’s a great mode of transportation – cheap, environmentally sound, a good source of exercise, and invaluable source of independence on gigs like tours and cruise ships.
I started thinking about finding a way to pack a bike when I was on a Broadway tour. I did a bus and truck tour which included 25,352 miles on a bus around American and Canada. Blech. I ate at restaurants 3 meals a day, sat on the bus 8-14 hours a day and spent every night in a new hotel room. I felt like one of those poor farm animals that are force fed food and kept in their cages without exercise to fatten them up for the slaughter. I gained 15 lbs and, generally, recreated the movie “Super Size Me” for 9 months. I would have given anything for a bike.
The problem is that bikes are poorly suited for airline travel. They don’t fit very well on trains, buses or, for that matter, cruise ships. If you can get your bike to a cruise ship, some ships have extra storage rooms for crew members where they can store their bikes, which is great because you’ll have a hard time fitting a full-size bike in your cabin with a roommate and all the other stuff.
In other words – if you can get the bike to your ship, you could have no trouble if your ship accommodates crew bikes. (Although, finding out if your particular ship will accommodate bikes is hard to do before you get aboard.)
Also, some ships actually have bikes already available for crew members.
Personally, I’m a big advocate of folding bikes. I know, I know, lots of people think they look like clown bikes. 20″ tires are a little strange I guess. But I own a Dahon Vitesse D7 and I think it’s great (although the color bugs me a little). The bike is so practical for my lifestyle. It fits in a standard 30″ suitcase, it folds up and fits on cruise ship elevators, trains, buses, free cruise ship shuttles, crew rooms – even in a shopping cart if you don’t want to lock it up outside.
Say you’re in the Mediterranean and you’re ship stops at Civitivechia (the port city of Rome). You’ll need to get off the ship, walk 1/2 mile to the train station, take the train to Rome, then find your way around Rome by city bus or by foot. How much better would it be to bike that 1/2 mile, fold up your bike to put it on the train, then bike around Rome like a local. You’ll see a hell of a lot more of Rome on a bike than on foot, for sure.
Or…say you are on a cruise in Hawaii, as I was recently, and you have a friend in Oahu, as I did. You can bike over to Waikiki for the morning, then fold your bike up and fit it in the truck of your friend’s car when they come pick you up to hang out.
OR! You can ride your bike to a cafe a few miles away from the ship. If it starts raining, fold up your bike and call a cab. Try doing that with a standard bike!
I dig my folding bike for all kinds of reasons, but I can understand why others wouldn’t. Especially, maybe, in Starkey’s situation, where he’d like to go mountain biking overseas (although Dahon does make a full-size, folding mountain bike). Starkey, in your case, you might find it worthwhile to box up your bike and pay the extra fees to get it overseas. It might be more convenient to rent a bike when you’re there, but that could be hard if you don’t speak the language. Another way would be to buy a bike when you get there and try to sell it before you get it home, but expect to sell it for less than you bought it.