Bringing a 29-er mountain bike onto an airplane is usually a nerve-wracking experience.
Before I get to the obvious question of why would you do such a thing??, let me count the ways in which the experience is nerve-wracking.
First, you have to pack the damn thing into a box. But before you even begin scratching your head trying to figure out how to do that, you need to have a box in your possession. So you go to a bike shop and beg for an empty box waiting to be recycled. You learn that Wednesdays are not a good day since the recycling truck came round yesterday afternoon, and that boxes aren’t made equal, and some are bigger and stronger than others. Beggars can’t be choosers, so you leave with the first one, dragging it brazenly onto the bus and into your apartment, only to learn that you needed one approximately 59.5% bigger. You throw it into the recycling bin and go back to the shop.
Second, and this will be only a little uncomfortable, and only the first time you do it, you take the bike apart and throw it into the box along with all the tools used in disassembly. You’ll need them later, I promise. Also put your clothes, shoes, assorted gear up to the allowed luggage weight. This will ensure that the box is easy to handle and can be carried up and down stairs, onto public transit and into your hotel room as a single compact unit. Since most weight is off your back, you’re traveling light, right? Right?
Third, you arrive at the airport and convey possession of the box to your friendly oversized luggage handler. It slithers on a conveyor belt under the rubber strips into the bowels of the airport, never to be seen again. Or not! You settle into your seat and anxiously wait for the plane to reach cruising altitude so you can finally calm the nerves with the aid of a mixed drink of choice, compliments of British Airways. You ask for another one. The flight attendants are cute. You can’t help but stare, slowly falling asleep. Happy dreams!
Fourth, you learn that München Flughafen (that’s German for airport, you dummy!) is a wonderful place to be, if you don’t have a 25-kilogram box full of bicycle parts that you need to carry through the labyrinth of passageways, stairs, and escalators.
Fifth, after braving the S-Bahn and navigating the enormous underground Central station, you get to the hotel that you so thoughtfully picked that’s near the Hauptbahnhof (that’s German for Central Train Station - you’re a quick learner, aren’t you?). You discover that the reception is on fifth floor. And that the elevator is only for very slim people who are not carrying a 25-kilo ginormous box full of bike parts.
Finally, after all this, you ask yourself: why go to all this trouble? Anyone can go to Germany and drink beer and be happy, but you’re a mountain biker first, and beer drinker second.
Well, don’t knock it ‘til you try it. You’re about to find out!