Back in 2013, I posted about my horrible experience with United Airlines who broke my bike on two different flights, claimed responsibility but refused to pay. The UA experience led me to using bike trailer transport services for my races. Unfortunately they are not perfect as well. I am posting an email I sent to TriBike Transport, not to complain, but to seek advice from other racers who may have some ideas or solutions and hopefully to help others who can prepare when using similar services. My Interests:
My email I sent to TriBike Transport this morning...
What kind of transport do other traveling triathletes highly recommend? What kind hard cases that require minimal triathlon bike breakdown (I have 2014 Trek SC 9.5 - I do not have DI) Ideas on timely/easy Power2Max Type S battery replacement. My bike guy thinks we need to custom make a screwdriver that works without taking everything apart.
Hi Tribike Transport Folks,
First of all I would like to say that I have used your service on several occasions in the past 6-7 years. For the most part I have been happy and I love the concept about not taking my bike apart. I haven't used your service in the past 2-3 years because of a few reasons, mainly the following:
- Kevin Russell with Cycle Chauffeur delivered excellent service, communicated with us very well, picked up our stuff from transition for us and really cared for our bikes and gear bags.
- All of the batteries in my power meter and Ant+ devices were killed during transport in your TBT trailers - every single transport. *This is commonly known by bike technicians and other racers. My batteries never burned out in Kevin's trailer transports.
- My bike was being marked up.
- After racing Alcatraz in 2015, I waited in a long line well over an hour, exhausted and in the blazing sun, just to turn my bike in to you all. I think this experience broke me.
First I have to say, for bike dropoff and pickup, you guys made me drive 35 minutes away to a bike shop in Sugar Land. That is a 1 hour 10 minute round trip. I live in Houston - the 4th largest city in the United States. There are bike shops all over the place in Houston. In traffic (most of the time), Sugar Land is a 1 hour one-way drive, 2 hours round trip.
Secondly, my plans were to fly into San Diego the day before the race. This was a huge error on my part and I take responsibility for that. I usually get to the race 2-3 days before, jump on my bike and make sure everything is working. I learned a valuable lesson and will never do it again. But in this situation, it would not have mattered if I got there earlier because of what happened with your service.
The morning before the race, I received a call from TBT Chris (last name unknown) explaining my bike made it to Oceanside but my bag never made it off the trailer. He assured me my race bag would be flown to Oceanside by 4-5pm that same evening - before transition closed (7pm). I explained delivery of my race bag before 7pm was important because almost all of my race gear was inside to include my pedals. He directed me to talk to Chris Cosgrove on site in Oceanside.
Once in Oceanside, I checked into the race and spoke with Chris Cosgrove. Chris was extremely professional and explained to me the trailer guy was new and he removed the wrong bag off the trailer. My bag stayed on the trailer and was dropped off in Dallas. My bag was a red TBT bag with a label that clearly said I was from Houston and I was going to Oceanside 70.3. I have no idea why it didn't make it off the trailer but even more confused why he dropped it off in Dallas. They did not notice the bag was missing until the evening before (TBT noticed bag missing late Thursday night - day before race was Friday - race was Saturday, 4/7/2018).
Chris informed me they were running late in flying my bag out and made arrangements for me to meet a race bike support guy named Rocky. He introduced me to meet Rocky and I was to meet Rocky the next morning in transition to put my pedals back on. The last thing I wanted to do was stress out about something extra the night before the race and especially race morning. But I knew it was out of Chris' hands and had to trust TBT would be true to their word. At this time, I picked up my bike, twirled the bike arms (with no pedals) to make sure the gears were okay and racked the bike in transition before the mandatory cut off time.
Well as the night wore on without delivery of my bag, my anxiety rose. A 5pm delivery turned into a 6:30pm, 7:30pm, 8:30pm and finally close to a 10pm delivery. Mandatory bike checkin & transition closed at 7pm. I texted and called Chris quite a few times with unhappy - where the hell is my bag - conversations. After a certain point, all I could think about was without the bag, I could not race. I trained hard for this race for four solid months and spent several thousand dollars. But more importantly, San Diego is my favorite city and I wanted to have a solid race performance and enjoyable weekend.
I appreciate the guy who flew my bag to Oceanside. I also appreciate Chris who met both him and me to deliver the bag and apologize. Chris was extremely calm and professional during this experience and kudos to him for being gracious. But I am unhappy with the overall service.
When I got my bag at 10pm, I had to use the bottles inside to mix my nutrition and set out my race gear in prep. I also had to find a way to let go of the stress I obtained from worrying about the bag arriving. I received less than 4 hours sleep.
The next morning, I went to transition and couldn't find Rocky - of course. I tracked down another bike guy and he assisted me with my pedals - luckily I had the allen wrench because they had very minimal tools. I believe I could have done it myself but with time flying by I knew I wanted to pump up my tires while another person made sure the pedals were good. After my pedals were reinstalled, this is when I tested my power meter and discovered the battery was dead. Because I had not used TBT in several years, I forgot the batteries die on the TBT trailers. Because I didn't have the pedals the day before, I did not jump on the bike to test everything to make sure it was all working. My power meter was a new upgrade and I noticed the battery compartment was harder to access, especially in the dark. I also recognized no one had a replacement battery nor the proper tools. I had the supplies back in my AirBnb room. It was too late to do anything about it.
I raced and tried to not burn my legs out in the 2,800 feet of climbing on the bike. I tried to use the percent grade to attempt to judge how my legs should feel. Unfortunately when we hit wind on the last 20 miles of the ride, I had no way to gauge how hard I should be pushing without power - and yes, despite my best efforts, I burned my legs out. I had a horrible run with tired legs and a high heart rate. I do blame this on the totality of circumstances of what happened during the bike transport.
Since receiving the bike back, it took two bike shop trips to replace the power meter battery. This is something that will not be easy to do on the road for a race with a lot of other logistics to work out. This means it will not be appealing for me to use your service, knowing I will have to go to great efforts to replace my battery on the road.
This combined experience of almost not racing, stressing out about the bag, preparing late pre-race and not being able to replace the power meter battery on a moment's notice will most likely prevent me from using your service in the future. Furthermore, my triathlon coach has been unhappy with your service for some time due to her and her husband's own race experiences and wants me to pursue other bike transport options.
I am racing Ironman Santa Rosa 70.3 in July. I was going to use TBT but now I am quickly trying to find a hard case to fly with that will allow the least amount of bike disassembly as possible.
I wanted to give you all of this feedback because I think it is important that you know why some people may not return as repeat customers. As I stated before, I love the concept and I hope that you can address and correct some of these issues for the future of your business. I wanted to love you guys but I just can't trust you will come through for me in the future. <end of email>