2014 Introduction – Wheels for my Wheels

The people pushed. The people shoved. Shoulders bumped. Brows furrowed. Words were said. Eight curvy and sometimes discontinuous lines all shoved forward to try to form one. Airport authority figures were taking a hands-off approach to directing people. And that is just the PG version of events.

On a couple of occasions while transporting my bike in a cardboard bike box, I thought I was going to be trampled or squashed by unruly crowds in airports. I thought I’d never make it to check-in or customs as people shoved me or cut in front of me, etc, and I tried to negotiate the squeeze with the big-ass box. The most notable occasions happened at check-in for Southwest at LAX and the queue exiting baggage claim to customs in Sydney. On these occasions, I had to abandon the luggage trolley and drag, carry and push the bike box through the disorderly, mob-like crowds – there was simply no room for a bike box on a luggage cart. That is PROBLEM 1.

This trip ‘home’ also has many connections. I train, bus and fly multiple legs. In Melbourne, I need to get myself, my backpack and the bike box from the train platform at Southern Cross station across the street to a motel (and back again the next morning). It is probably about 1/8 to 1/4 mile of walking. I can’t take a luggage cart from the station. It is too short of a distance to take a taxi. And I am too weak to carry the bike box that far while also humping along the backpack with all my gear. That is PROBLEM 2.

So all of this means, I need some wheels for the bike box that I can carry with me between transport legs.

I looked at a skateboard, but the trucks were too heavy (and the board too bulky) to carry on my person between uses. Luckily, Nigel was able to find a set of small wheels at Bunnings (like U.S. Home Depot)designed for moving furniture.

For $8, we think we’ve got a solution. The pics below show the idea. Initial tests show it is a little bit awkward, but should be a lot better than trying to carry the box long distances. Details below. I’ll let you know the final verdict once I get to Indiana….

Side view of the furniture trolley wheels. Nigel has cut up an old 2-litre juice bottle and used small screws to attach this to the trolley surface.
Top view of juice bottle section attached to wheels.
Packing tape goes onto the ‘flaps’ of the plastic juice bottle. This will keep the wheels attached when picking up box to step off curbs, etc. Tape can easily be removed when finished and wheels removed.
Wheels taped to box. You can’t do it this sloppy, however. The wheels need to be dead-on straight or the box wants to turn. I solved this problem by using permanent marker and a ruler to draw ‘guides’ for trolley placement. It is also better to put the wheels closer to the box ends. Then you can pick up the front and only have rear wheels on ground. The box is unstable on the wheels, though. It won’t stand up on the wheels – it will fall to whatever side of the box has your front wheel packed next to the frame. This also means you can’t really pick up the box from the end hole and drag behind you. You need to be next to the box guiding it. I also found it was better to pull from the front than push from the rear.
Ready to go! Bike box, one pannier to use as a carry-on and the backpack has all the rest (tent, sleeping bag, rest of panniers, handlebar bag, etc.). Only thing packed with the bike is my sleeping pad (which helps to protect rear derailleur), pedals and bike tools. Wheels get their real test on Thursday, 8 May when we travel from Albury to Melbourne by train.

THE VERDICT: You only need one set of wheels. These need to be attached near the end of the box. Then you just pick up the other end, while standing at the side of the box, and roll on the rear wheels only while carrying the other end.

I quickly abandoned the second set of wheels – it was just too hard to roll the box on both – it was much easier to just pick up the one end. Being able to quickly tape on and remove the wheels was great, though. I just carried the wheels and a small roll of packing tape in my carry-on and could easily access them. The packing tape was nice to be able to repair holes/cuts in the box en route, also.

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