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Vacation Cycling Part 1

Posted by on February 10, 2014

Depending upon your vacation location, getting in training level cycling rides may be more difficult than you can imagine.

Within the United States, it’s relitively inexpensive to ship a bike box via USPS/UPS/FedEx if you have enough lead time. Consider a carbon frame road bike weighs ~18 pounds, and the bike box probably weighs more than the bike. If you don’t need your bike but can handle a rental, you can get by with an inexpensive replacement from a local bike shop if you’re going to a city, though the pickings may be slimmer as the size of the city shrinks.

Going to a foreign country can also be easy to rent a road bike, though Europe will probably provide a much better experience than anywhere else.

I, unfortuneately, went on vacation to the Cayman Islands. There isn’t an “official” bike shop here, but a hardware store called “Uncle Bills”. No, really. Uncle Bill’s. It’s a hardware store. They carry Jamis & Trek bikes. The only places on the island to rent a bike are looking to gouge cruise ship tourists, but charging $20 for a coaster brake cruiser. The only place I saw that said they rented road bikes wanted $200 a day, but even after driving by, calling and emailing, I never got a response.

I looked into getting my bike here. United was going to charge me $200 to check a bike box… One way. All those wonderful things that you can check go out the window when it comes to small caribbean islands. Next I looked into shipping a bike + box. DHL wanted to charge me $986 one way. FedEx wanted ~$1200. There was no way I was going to be able to (affordably) ride my bike in Grand Cayman.

I had my Aunt Linda, who was already on the island, look for other rental places, but all they had were cruisers and beach bikes. I then looked into buying a used bike. No one on Grand Cayman uses Ebay. Not a single bike listing whatsoever. They’re all listing on eCayTrade. But because of the cost of importing a bike onto the island, and the lack of sellers, the quantity and quality of the sub $500US bike just isn’t there.

So my Aunt asked around in the condo units where we have a condo and there turned up two bikes that were available for me to ride.

The first one was an old rusted mountain bike. Not very well cared for or maintained. Plus it needed at least one new tube, and basically all new cables. I would not have wanted to try and brake quickly lest I snap a cable.

The other bike was a daily-ridden well maintained Trek 7.2FX. The week before it popped a rear spoke, had a new tire put on the back, but otherwise is in good shape.

I took it out for my first ride…

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Which was a shortened ride with a walk afterwards… I kept to the new bypass road, and stopped at Camana Bay to look at the view, but somehow after leaving, I caught a shell in the new tire, and because I made certain assumptions (you know, like that seat bag having a spare) I walked for an hour until my Aunt was able to come pick me up so I could get back in time for dinner.

That night I changed the tube, and went to Uncle Bills the next day to get a couple extra spare tubes. Uncle Bills had a couple of nice bikes, a Trek 2.1 and a 1.1 ($1800 & $1250 each), but nothing worth getting to leave on the island. Tubes were $6 a piece, so those weren’t too bad.

Undeterred, I set out a couple days later in a very ironic jersey, I rode back to Camana Bay, to meet my wife and Aunts for a bit of shopping, the farmers’ market, and lunch at the Britannia.

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It’s got a really nice parking tower, that has not so beautiful views of Georgetown.

After stopping for lunch and such, the fam went back to the condo, and I rode off towards West Bay and Botabano.

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I stopped by the old house my grandparents owned at Mango Walk, where Becky and I spent our honeymoon. The house had been damaged during Hurricane Ivan, and much of the mango trees that gave the property its name had to be removed.

I rode over to Morgan’s Harbour, but Borden’s Pizza, the site of my first Guinness, was no longer there.

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All in All it was a good ride. Hot. I had forgotten how hot it got down here.

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