Traveling by Plane to Races in a WheelchairBrett Richards
Traveling by plane to bike races in a wheelchair is definitely not an easy task in itself. Throw a 90 pound bike box in the mix and it’s almost impossible to do by myself. I did say almost. I have learned tricks throughout my travels as a Team PossAbilities athlete to get by without help. These tricks are not easy, nor are they fun but I will do what I have to do to get to race.
The first trick I have is not much of a trick. PossAbilities has provided me with an amazing Thule hard case bike box that is very durable and holds up to simply sliding the box out of the truck at the airport until I have to let it go and watch it fall to the ground. It takes it like a champ. This bike box holds and protects way more essentials than just a bike. This box also is the home of my trainer I use to warm up on at bike races, multiple helmets needed, recovery compression sleeves, cycling shoes, nutrition powders, mixer and water bottles, tools to assemble/disassemble the bike, and miscellaneous clothing. This is why it’s 90 pounds. Packing most everything in the bike box is the only way I can manage traveling with a single carry on and a bike box.
The second trick I use is towing my bike box behind my wheelchair. Now this 90 pound box is not small by any means. It would easily hold two and a half people inside of it so you can imagine how funny this must look trailing behind me in my wheelchair. Towing this box from the parking lot at the airport isn’t easy and therefore most of the time I end up paying for the expensive parking spots that are closer to the terminals to make it a little easier. The destination of travel makes a big impact here. In Milwaukee there was a large steep ramp that I just could not push my wheelchair up while towing my bike box and I had too unhook it and find someone to help me. I live in Southern California and we have Los Angles International Airport (LAX) here. As much as LAX is hated by so many I think it’s an amazing airport for the volume it sees daily. I haven’t been to a ton of airports but the ones I have been to, LAX is pretty nice and accessible.
The last trick I have to use when traveling is the unpack to lift method to get my bike box off of the ground and into a vehicle. It’s obvious I’m not lifting a 90 pound box into the back of a SUV or pickup truck and there is no way it will fit in a car. In this case I will simply unpack it and put everything in the car piece by piece. This takes a long time but in a jam I am completely willing to do what I have to in order to get to my destination.
All in all it isn’t that bad and is so worth the effort to race. Without the tools provided by Team PossAbilities none of this would be possible and I am forever grateful to even have the opportunity yo have these slight struggles in my travels.