22 Oct 5 Tips for bike packing

By Rebeccah Wassner, Pro Triathlete

Bike packing. Even after 15 years as a pro triathlete, it still makes me nervous. It’s a dreaded, but necessary part of the job, but like most elements of triathlons, you can always get better at it. Here are some tips for making the process easier.

Do it yourself!

If you are traveling to the race by yourself, then pack the bike yourself. The very first time I traveled with my bike was to the age group nationals in Shreveport, Louisiana in 2003. My roommate, who knew more about bike mechanics than me, helped me pack the bike. But when it came time for me to put it back together I was frozen with fear. To the point where I felt like everything I was doing was going to break the bike. The struggle was real! To avoid that stress in the future, I practiced taking apart and reassembling my bike a few times before my next trip (…because at that race, once my bike was properly put back together, I qualified for World Champs in Queenstown, New Zealand). 

Consider the bag or case.

We prefer for the bag itself not to weigh very much because this makes the whole package that much easier to lift (on/off luggage belts or in and out of cars). One perk of a soft case, like those from the company Scicon is that they collapse down and don’t take up much space in a hotel room. Also, Laurel and I have often built our bikes in rental car parking lots so to that we could collapse the bags down and fit all of our stuff in the car.

Purchase pipe insulation + masking tape.

Cut the pipe insulation to the exact size of the tubes you are using it to protect and label each piece. Use the masking tape to secure things in place. We recommend Doing this even with a hard case because you never know what happens one the case leaves your sight. Things always move around.


when you are going to pack your bike. Allow enough time so you aren’t rushed and, if you can, do it while a bike shop is open for business…just in case you run into a problem. True story: one time I could not get the pedals off for the life of me. They had been cranked down by a mechanic during my last tune up. I ended up having to track down the super from my building to help.

Pack your bike in an out of the way place where you won’t be distracted

Once I had the great idea to pack my bike in the front yard and every few minutes someone would stop and wonder what I was doing. A dog even ran over and got in by box. Cute, but I needed to focus on getting my derailleur off!

Consider what else you put in there with the bike.

I like to put my wetsuit in as extra padding. I also pack a lightweight pump (wrapped up in pipe insulation), my bike shoes, and my XRCEL supply.*

*Note: I also put some back up bottles of XRCEL in my rolling suitcase. No matter what happens, you’ve gotta have your race nutrition!

Frederick Sexton
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