A Letter from our President

Dear TBT Customers,

As we near the end of 2020 and reflect on the challenges we’ve all faced as a result of the pandemic, I wanted to share an update with you on TriBike Transport and some of the things we’ve been up to since we were forced to shut down back in mid-March.

As an organization, our first priority was to ensure that we were financially prepared to deal with the possibility that shutdowns might last much longer than the initial projections suggested. Once satisfied that the appropriate and necessary measures were in place, we focused our efforts on key initiatives to improve many of our internal business systems, processes and controls. These improvements will greatly strengthen the efficiency of our service, both internally and for you, our customers.

In addition to these changes, we are developing two enhancements that will improve our customers’ experience, as well as increase the efficiency and reliability of our operation. First, our IT team is diligently working to implement a QR code scanning and tracking system that will vastly improve the reliability and reduce the instance of human error in the handling and tracking of any particular bike during transport. This is great news for those of you that have asked for tracking numbers in the past – and for all of our customers, of course. 

Second, a new, proprietary (patent-pending) racking system is currently in the final stages of design and engineering. We expect to have a working prototype completed in the next few weeks. This new equipment will greatly reduce the effort and time spent loading, unloading, sorting and handling bikes, and further reduce the already low chances of incidental damage during transport. We expect this will decrease transport times in transit and make our drivers’ physically challenging work a bit easier. 

Separately, we’ve recently announced a new fully-assembled bike transport service under our sister brand, THRU. The shutdown gave us the opportunity to complete a concept we first started developing a few years ago: a non-event-focused, fully-assembled shipping network designed to serve industry direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands, retailers and eventually, any individual needing to ship a bike anywhere, anytime. This complements the very competitively priced THRU label service that we launched a few months ago, so that we will now offer a full range of bike shipping services that is available nowhere else. 

We couldn’t have done any of this without our outstanding team and I want to take this opportunity to thank them. I am incredibly proud and grateful for each and every individual working with us. They are a dedicated, talented crew; one of the best I’ve had the pleasure to work with.

It is with gratitude and anticipation that we look forward to the New Year. We still don’t know exactly when we’ll be traveling to races again, and so we must continue to be conservative in our planning. That being said, we have emerged from 2020’s many challenges with a better, more capable organization, a new sister business that will improve our TBT operations, and cautious optimism that 2021 could be our best year yet.

In closing, we are keenly aware of the loss, disruption and uncertainty that so many in our communities are living through. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them, along with our wishes for courage, strength and healing in this difficult time.

And to all of you, our loyal customers, we are truly grateful for your understanding, support and patience this year, as we have struggled to ensure we would be able to get back to business when the time comes. We frankly cannot thank you enough. We look forward to seeing you at an event soon.

From the entire team at TBT and THRU, we wish you all the very best for the holiday season.

Sincerely,

Marc Lauzon

President, TriBike Transport/THRU

THRU’s Proprietary Bike Delivery Service Upgrades Customers’ Experience; Building on 15 Years of Bike Shipping Excellence

Your Bike. There.

THRU’s new flagship “Ready to Roll” service delivers a professionally assembled bike instead of a bike in a box. New bike owners are ready to ride immediately and don’t have the headache of assembling – or finding a bike mechanic to assemble – their new bike for them. Bike manufacturers and mechanics can skip the re-boxing and save time and labor costs while providing an unmatched delivery experience to their customer.

Founder Marc Lauzon believes that when a customer invests in a high-end bicycle, the delivery experience should match the quality of the bike. “THRU is the culmination of years of development and refinement. Instead of receiving a giant box that you then have to unpack and find someone to build your bike, you can have your fully assembled bike sent to one of our participating local partner bike shops or have it delivered to your front door. Our delivery tech will walk your bike to you, with every bolt and adjustment untouched since the bike was built by the factory technician. All you need to do is install your pedals, put on a helmet and take it for a spin.” Marc shares, “We’re partnering with major brands in the industry to roll this service out to their customers. They will set themselves apart as they offer their customers a premier and headache-free experience.”

Industry Partners

As a reference, THRU is currently delivering new bikes for American Bicycle Group (Litespeed, Quintana Roo and Obed) from their headquarters in Chattanooga to customers across the US, from Massachusetts to California, in time for the holidays. Marc: “We appreciate the opportunity to work with Peter Hurley and his team at ABG to fine tune our process and complete our first direct-to-consumer deliveries.”

With over 15 years of experience shipping fully assembled bicycles safely around the world, THRU (from the team at TriBike Transport) is introducing this new service that not only elevates the customer experience, but also reduces costs for manufacturers and online retailers, while minimizing their environmental impact. The service will be rolled out gradually over the next few months as the required infrastructure is built up.

Ship a Bike, Plant a Tree 

Like most cyclists, the THRU team is highly conscious of the impact they have on the environment – and that includes shipping bikes. For every 10,000 bikes shipped in a box, more than 23 tons of cardboard are used. All this packaging consumes more than 385 trees and produces 74 tons of CO2. Every year, hundreds of thousands of bikes are shipped directly to consumers in the US, resulting in thousands of tons of CO2 emissions. THRU takes its responsibility in preserving the planet and protecting the outdoors and cyclists’ future adventures very seriously. Not only will THRU be eliminating a portion of that cardboard with this model, they have also partnered with One Tree Planted to plant a tree for every bike shipped. “When you ship a bike with us you will become a tree parent,” said Lauzon. “As your tree matures, it will more than offset the carbon footprint of shipping your bike, not to mention, you’ll be helping to preserve the forests that so many of us enjoy on our rides.”

It Doesn’t Stop There

THRU has also rolled out a second new service that gives cyclists, shippers and retailers that may be outside of THRU’s initial network, a cost-effective way to ship bikes across the country. Get a quote, print a label and schedule a FedEx pickup at www.thrusport.com in a matter of minutes.

Note About Consumer Shipping

We are currently offering fully assembled bike shipping to manufacturers and resellers, as well as to IRONMAN, USA Triathlon, and other triathlon and cycling events. Please contact us for more information.

For consumers, we’re offering bike shipping service in a box that is live now. Ship your bike anywhere using our competitively priced shipping service

Our plan is to offer fully assembled bike delivery to anyone, anywhere, anytime in 2021. Stay tuned! 

About THRU

THRU’s disruptive approach to bike transport logistics is revolutionizing how the industry and individual cyclists ship their bikes, thereby dramatically improving efficiency and sustainability from current methods. THRU services cyclists as well as business-to-business and after-market, offering solutions to ship bikes and equipment safely and reliably to retailers and buyers. THRU has a long heritage of transporting bikes for athletes through its sister company, TriBike Transport. Its team has earned a reputation for exceptional service since it started business in 2004. For more information and to learn how to ship bikes safely and hassle-free, visit www.thrusport.com.

There and Back Again – A TriBike Tale – The Home Stretch Part 6

On day 14, I was getting homesick – it was the last sort and load day. Luckily it was just for three races, and the return trip was light. I was ready to hit my route and get home.

But remember how I said nothing goes as planned? I had loaded quickly and pulled out of Asheville with the intent of just getting this done, and going home. I made Indy quickly, did my drop off, and got my hotel just outside of Chicago when I found out my exchange with the Minnesota/Wisconsin feeder van wasn’t going to happen as quickly as I had hoped.

Sometimes all it takes is one bike to hold up the entire process.  The feeder van wasn’t able to meet up with me until Saturday morning – 36 hours later than planned. That left me with a day and a half to kill in the Chicago/Milwaukee area, which I took full advantage of.

Side note: I appreciate that most of my free time on this journey was in the Asheville, NC, and Milwaukee, WI areas – what I consider to be the Southern and Northern beer capitals of the Eastern US. There are some perks.

Saturday morning, I found myself in another parking lot swapping bikes. To the outside observer, this process has to look fairly shady: two Penske trucks backed together with 20 – 40 bikes lined up along the sides. As quickly as we could swap the bikes, I was back on the road finishing up my stops in Chicago before heading for another parking lot meet up in Detroit at 9 pm. I grabbed some sleep and headed for a brunch date with my family in Cleveland!

After brunch with the fam, I continued on my route, making stops at bike shops in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. I made it all the way to Lexington, KY before I called it a night. After countless miles on the road, I was up the next day with only 4.5 hours of driving ahead of me. I pulled into TBT’s Asheville warehouse at 3:30 pm on Monday, October 7th, having no idea how many bikes I had moved. I just knew that it had been a long trip and I was ready to go home.

With the truck unloaded, I had one last night in Asheville. I took the time for a couple of sours at the Funkatorium, ate some Indian food, and walked up Lexington to hit the boutiques and hippie shops. Then it was back to the hotel bar to watch the Browns on Monday Night Football, all while looking forward to my flight home in the morning.

While waiting for my flight, I reflected on the past 21 days reliving all I had learned and experienced on this journey.

  • Meeting in parking lots – never seemed like a thing to me until this job
  • Constantly searching Google for “nearest (fill in the blank)” to a local bike shop
  • Counting the hours from when a bike shop opens the next morning to determine where to stop driving for the night
  • Calling bike shop owners to ask them to meet me on the one day the shop is closed – that reminds me, I owe a few of them a beer or two

This is a very interesting job, and not one for the faint of heart. It takes a very specific set of skills, personality, and a love of bikes to be able to enjoy it and be good at it. I told one customer that it takes an Ironman to get your bikes to you, even if many of us haven’t officially crossed the line. I think that is absolutely true.

Well, until next time – Thank you for trusting us with your bike. I hope you have a great race.

 

Behind the Scenes: IRONMAN® 70.3® Puerto Rico 2020

Some of you may already know that TriBike Transport began the 2020 season by shipping bikes to IRONMAN® 70.3® Puerto Rico, only to be turned around as soon as our team landed at the airport in Puerto Rico. We want to give you some insight into the process that led up to and followed the disconcerting but necessary cancellation of the race from our perspective.

TBT was still in normal business mode late February and early March as the COVID-19 events unfolded around the world. We did, however, keep a close eye on triathlon events we were scheduled to ship to in the upcoming weeks, including IRONMAN® 70.3® Puerto Rico. 

Beginning February 28th we picked up 130+ bikes from our Partner Shops across the eastern United States (east of Colorado) and sailed them to San Juan, Puerto Rico from Jacksonville, Florida on March 6th for the start of the 2020 race season.

On March 12th, Thursday before the race, Taylor Essick, TBT’s SVP, and Chris Cosgrove, VP of Operations, boarded a flight to San Juan. Prior to boarding, they contacted the IRONMAN® 70.3® Puerto Rico race director, Arturo Diaz, to make sure the race was still a go. State and local governments in various places across the country were just starting to declare states of emergency, shutting down businesses and asking people to shelter at home. This was in the very early stages of COVID-19 for the U.S. and, like most people, we were unaware of the gravity of the situation. Taylor and Chris wanted to make sure they still had jobs to do in San Juan. Arturo said, “The race is happening come hell or high water.” That’s all they needed to hear, and confidently took their seats on the 2.5 hour flight from Atlanta to the beautiful island of Puerto Rico.

Chris and Taylor arrived at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport at 3:00 in the afternoon and immediately received a text message from the race director who had been trying to call them. The Governor had declared a state of emergency for Puerto Rico while they were flying, and all events were shut down. The race was cancelled.

Shock/disbelief came first. The bikes had already arrived and were waiting at the port to be unloaded.

They called Arturo: Can we hand out bikes to athletes that are already here and let them ride a few days? Unfortunately, he said no. The government  stated there would be absolutely no unloading of anything nonessential. Set up at the expo had come to a screeching halt and workers were scrambling to pack back up and get home. The mandate was to discourage any gatherings. All of this makes sense now, but to some of our athletes who were already on the island, it was confusing. If they couldn’t race, they wanted to at least ride their bikes. We didn’t blame them. We’re athletes, too, and understand the desire to move our bodies, especially after taper week. We wanted to give them their bikes, we just weren’t allowed to do it.

Taylor and Chris had to make a plan. 

Number one, they contacted the shipping company and secured a ride home for the bike container. The container was put on the very next boat to Jacksonville, FL. Second item: procure flights home immediately to make sure they didn’t get stuck riding out the pandemic away from their families. They flew back to Atlanta, and then on to Asheville, NC, the very next day. 

Once home, Chris started working on the third item of the plan: deciding whether to return the bikes to our customers now or later. We had three choices:

  1. Keep the bikes until the pandemic is over
  2. Pack & Ship all the bikes back to customers
  3. Return by truck as usual

Considering the three options we had, we continually came back to the bottom line, that our customers needed their bikes. To stay healthy, to stay active, to stay sane. Sure, some may have a second bike they could get by riding, but many don’t have that option. Athletes need their bikes, especially at an extraordinary time like this; as we watched events unfold across the globe, we realized the country may be in isolation for quite a long time. We wanted our customers to have the best possible experience as the world nose-dived into the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we deliberated we kept up on government guidelines about inter-state travel within the states our drivers would be working. We checked the news as much as possible, and searched the internet for travel restrictions, paying particular attention to the Northeast, where things were really starting to lock down.

Every new government announcement was taken into consideration, however, nothing that came up at that time seemed to affect returning the bikes. We did understand things were happening fast and the longer we waited the harder it was going to be to return the bikes.

We contacted our partner bike shops for their open hours. Some would be open, some with limited hours or by appointment only, and others would not be open at all. We soon realized we would not be entering any of them so didn’t need them to be open for our deliveries. Connecting with them, while not necessary once we knew how we’d handle dropping off bikes, added some comfort into our days of watching the world go into hibernation.

We also contacted hotels in the states we’d be in, and around the areas our drivers would most likely spend nights. Most were open. They ensured us of their sanitization protocols on each call, and then again upon our driver’s arrival.

In the meantime, we had to furlough most of our employees and start putting the business in sleep mode. We were heartbroken. 

Once the decision was made to return the bikes via trucks, we launched into executing this last part of the plan.

 

The bikes arrived at our warehouse in Asheville on Thursday March 19th. Friday was sorting and loading day, Saturday the start of the bike returns.

Four of our team members volunteered to return the bikes: Our Operations Manager, Mike Zimmerman, one of our Drivers from Asheville, Matthew Perry, another Driver from New Jersey, Jefferson Gonzales, and Marc Lauzon, our President. 

Taylor and Chris helped Mike and Matt load their 2 trucks with 25+ bikes each. Mike and Matt took off on their routes on Friday. Jefferson arrived Saturday morning, and along with Taylor and Chris loaded his truck with 50+ bikes. He promptly hit the road. All the guys wore gloves and masks and stayed away from each other as best they could as they unloaded the container, sorted the bikes, and then re-loaded the trucks and trailer.

Chris and Taylor loaded one of TBT’s trailers with the remaining 25+ bikes. 

Marc was the last to arrive on a flight into Asheville from Denver on Saturday the 21st of March. He picked up a ride straight to the warehouse, got in a truck and drove off with the trailer of bikes behind him. His first stop would be in Cincinnati.

Over the course of the next 4-5 days, we took every precaution to ensure we were not spreading the virus as we returned the bikes to shops in 20 states.

The arsenal of cleaning products each driver carried

The three rented trucks were sanitized by our team when they picked them up. The one truck that would pull a trailer was also sanitized for good measure, although it hadn’t been used since late 2019.

Each driver was given gloves, hand sanitizer, masks, sanitizing spray, and sanitizing wipes for the road. The specific instructions were to unload bikes at each partner shop wearing gloves and a mask before customers arrived. Hang the bikes on a bike rack in the parking lot area, and then stand back at least 6 feet as customers arrive to pick their own bike from the rack. 

All of our IRONMAN® 70.3® Puerto Rico customers were contacted with the date and time of pick up at their specific partner shop.

Jefferson, who drove the North East route, did not go into New York City in order to limit exposure for himself and our Partner Shop employees. Instead he dropped off three bikes into our storage in New Jersey where the bikes remain to this day. One of those customers did not need his bike, and the other two were sheltering out of state and unable to pick up. Once the coast is clear, we’ll get those bikes to their owners. 

Customers were mostly grateful and observant of our new protocol. However, some were already descending into fear; looking angry, bothered or suspicious, some reminding their spouses/partners, perhaps in louder than normal voices, to stay 6ft back from the TBT driver. It was a scary time facing the unknown as the country slowly shut down.

Some customers couldn’t make it to the bike shop at the specified time, so while our drivers didn’t go near customers, they did hand deliver bikes to homes when necessary. Usually a garage door would be left open for our driver to drop the bike. No human interaction. 

Jefferson en route in the North East

The drivers faced many challenges on the road, all of equal notability. Food was scarce, restaurants had shut down, grocery stores where low on food and the lines were long and unbearable. While hotels were open, they eliminated their breakfast bars, which are a staple on the road when under pressure of time. The empty streets of the towns and cities were eerie and dystopian. People wearing masks and avoiding any bit of closeness made life on the road even more lonely than usual. Staying ‘sanitized’ was a constant thought and threat. Jefferson thought of his 3 children each time he sanitized his truck, his hotel room, his hands. He knew there was no such thing as too much . . . . Marc knew he would be quarantined when he got home no matter what. He still kept sanitizing, as did Mike and Matt.  

We minimized travel and contact with other people as best we could. There was one flight taken by Marc from Denver to Asheville. He was armed with hand sanitizer and masks and only encountered 15 people on the 737 that was his carriage. He then drove the Midwest route in one of our company trucks which now sits outside his home in Colorado waiting to be put back in service. Jefferson picked up a rental truck in his hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, drove to Asheville, picked up the bikes and drove the North East route to return home. Mike and Matt live in Asheville where they rented trucks, then drove loops for the Texas route and the South East route respectively.

Chris remained close to the phone as the four drivers made their way through their routes; he called customers for early or late pick ups, helped contact no-shows and coordinate home deliveries. 

Since the return of the final IRONMAN® 70.3® Puerto Rico bike in March, we have been working on a constantly evolving race calendar, answering the few emails and phone calls that come through, and all around preparing for a very busy late summer/fall season. Our furloughed employees have been receiving unemployment insurance and waiting to hear from us when the time is right. We can’t wait to contact them with the news we’re getting back to work. 

But until that time comes, we pray for this pandemic to end easily and gracefully. We pray that you, and all of our customers, partners, co-workers, friends and family stay safe and healthy as we navigate this exceptional new way of life. We look forward to the day we can see our friends and families in person, share meals and hugs and time together. And within all of that, we also look forward to the first triathlon of 2020. Which one will it be? We’ll start taking your bets now. 

PS: No virus symptoms have appeared for any of the drivers or employees that worked on the IRONMAN® 70.3® Puerto Rico bike returns.

There and Back Again – A TriBike Tale – Race Day in Augusta Part 5

Race day reached 96°F, and Augusta did not offer the most ideal physical layout for a race. Transition was nearly 2 miles from the finish line, and no one seemed to know how, when, or where shuttles were running. We were told to be ready to start receiving bikes at noon. Noon.  Heh.  The first bike arrived at nearly 2:30. At that point, we knew it was going to be a long and hot day. We had coolers filled with water, Gatorade, and cold Coronas with lime for our athletes as they dropped off their bikes. The published materials said we would be accepting bikes until 5 pm, but as the clock hit 7 pm, bikes were still trickling in. We also had 24 Finish & Fly Valet bikes to pick up from transition.  

As the sun started to set, we started to run – literally. Jordy set the pace as we jogged to transition to collect bikes and bags to bring them back to our corral – riding the bikes back the 300 yards to our pen where we had to tag bags and pull pedals to finish the collection and organization for the load out. By 9 pm, we were ready to start loading. At this point, we had been working in the Georgia heat for 9 hours straight, pulling pedals, handing out beers, and getting bikes racked in the system. We needed to eat.

We rode our bikes back downtown to have a very late dinner. I have to admit it was great seeing the post-race atmosphere from the outside in. I am usually a racer and don’t see the overall energy of the whole scene. Downtown Augusta was alight with the fire of post-race glow, while Jordy and I were just trying to get ready for our final push.

We found a cool bar that listed Japanese fusion bar fare. It sounded interesting, and it was, but I cannot remember seeing a slower kitchen. We just wanted to eat, and by the time we got our food, they were turning off the lights and pushing us out the door. At least we had nutrition to face the task at hand. And no, we didn’t drink. I had four sweet teas to caffeine up before the task at hand.

With food in our bellies and all caffeinated up, it was all about the bikes. Tracking the bikes and bags is a very tedious process when intermingled with extreme labor and heat when one is already exhausted. Keeping every bike and bag in order kept us sweating and swearing till 3:30 in the morning. I cannot remember working harder at something which simultaneously took so much physical effort as well as technical diligence. It was almost the identical sensation as one has at hour 15 on an Ironman run course when everyone else was in.

When we crawled into our hotel room at 4 am, we both showered off the layers of blanket dust that had pancaked itself to every inch of our bodies as it stuck to our sweat. I then started our laundry. I had to have clean clothes for the ride back. Yes, yes, I did.

At 9 am we got up, packed up our room, and drove the bikes 3.5 hours back to Asheville, where my only hope was that when we arrived, we would not be sorting and packing that day. Thankfully, I got my wish.

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