Bike Packing meets Humpty Dumpty

Post for 22-07-27, including the days & weeks before.

After reading past posts, people have mentioned they like it when I put the song first. This song is fun and very fitting, for what’s below.

After enjoying bike tours for 10 years, I’ve gotten better at it, at least a little. But in the last week or so, I’ve scrambled around like a newbie, again. Before every bike tour, I lose gear, look around with frustration, lose something else, and find what I couldn’t the first time. And of course, there were times when the bit I was looking for was in my hand.

After that, I found a good place to pack stuff in my bike-bags, moved it to a better place, forget where I put it, and repeat the process of searching, finding, and losing. It’s like my own self-inflicted Easter-egg hunt—for everything from socks to spare spokes, or sock to spoke. But eventually, my bike looked pretty good.

May I introduce my new bike Fernweh. In addition to having a massive granny-gear, a drop-set, and a great front-shock, she’s painted with my favourite colour.

As mentioned in the previous post, her name is Fernweh, which is German for “far-ache.” It’s the opposite of homesickness.

Preparing for this trip was no different, but after packing my stuff on Fernweh, and moving all my gear to luggage to put on a plane, there was something else. On this trip, I decided to pack my bike myself, so it could also be shipped on a plane, hopefully the same one I would fly on.

An early step in preparing my bike for a box

Shipping a bike is part of bike touring, usually on an airplane. I’ve always taken my bike to a bike shop, so experienced mechanics could make my full-size bike fit into a much smaller bike box, for shipping. I decided to pack my bike on my own this time, since I’m so experienced at bike-touring.


My “1st Missoula Friend” Rosemary drove me to the airport.

I wrote most of this while sitting in airports and on airplanes, while flying from Missoula to Calgary. While I sat and typed, a few questions wandered through my tired mine, such as:

Question 1: How much gear did I forget?
For me, it’s not possible to remember everything, even with pages of lists.

Question 2: What kind of problems will occur after my bike comes out of the box?

Ferwen with so much padding that she looks like a bike-snowman.

Normally, packing a bike means taking off only the front wheel and putting a bunch of padding around the frame, and other bits.

After that, you put the bike into a box and easily tuck the front wheel by the very-padded frame, in the box. My bike is XL, like my disorganization skills.

Having an XL bike meant I had to take both wheels off, tuck the rear derailleur inside the frame, and tuck (or shove) both wheels into the box and next to the frame.

In the process, I had to nudge or shove every delicate spot on my bike, from spokes to shifters.

Fernweh stuffed into a box

Since this is the first time I’ve packed my bike into a box, I’m concerned I may have a Humpty-Dumpty problem, about putting all the pieces back together again. And then, riding the bike for 700 miles in mountains.

Question 3: Will my bike arrive with me?
I spent a lot of money on new gear for this ride. As mentioned in the previous post, this ride will be bike-packing instead of bike touring. The gear I’ve used for the last 10 years is made for bike-touring, so I bought a lot of gear for bike-packing. Since I spent so much money on gear, I decided to save money on my flight.

I flew Alaska Air. It’s rated high by cyclists, but staff at Alaska Air couldn’t assure me my bike would be on the plane with me until I was at the gate. They were “almost certain” but not entirely.

Perhaps the most puzzling part of the unpredictable packing process is that I still love it, even when I’m holding the piece of gear I’m looking for or shoving bits of my precious bike into a box.

After my flight to Calgary, the next step is taking a shuttle bus to Jasper, arriving at 8pm, and very likely setting up my tent in the dark, like I have for 10 years. We’ll see what happens.