Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cervélo Taste on a Huffy Budget

Plugging on through my "To Do List" in my America by Bicycle Tool Kit over the last week ...

I jumped at an opportunity to purchase my one-way plane ticket to Portland, OR, when the price dropped to $218.90, while other carriers and itineraries were - at the time - holding at $283-$465. That's the advantage of tracking your preferred itineraries on Yapta.com. The disadvantage is that you also get to see when the flight you already purchased drops to $208.90, which isn't cause for much regret at currently just a 10-dollar difference. But if that price drops even lower, I'm going to get a swift elbow from my wallet.

In the post-purchase milieu, Yapta.com also sends airfare alerts and assists in claiming a refund if the price for a particular itinerary drops below what was paid; however, my current itinerary to Portland would have to drop to $69 to permit the difference in the airline change fee to save me any money. That pesky little airline change fee generally saves the airlines from having to issue refunds unless the price drops more than $150.

I also booked my hotel reservations at the official tour hotels since I'll be arriving before the tour accommodations in Astoria, OR, kick in, and I'll be leaving the day after they are discontinued in Portsmouth, NH. Coverage of the further cost is a gift from my parents, who - above and beyond their generous emotional and financial contributions - also decided last week to foot the bill for the superfluous hotel stays in Astoria and Portsmouth.

While I was booking my outbound flight to Portland, I went ahead and purchased my return flight from Boston, MA, since the prices have seemed to be holding steady at $79.70. That, in addition to the $25 shuttle from Portsmouth to Boston Logan International Airport (provided by AbyB), will get me back to New York City after the tour for roughly $100.00.

I plan to ship my bicycle to and from the start and end points of the tour; however, here's a fun tidbit for any other cyclists trekking to Astoria with bicycles (I hope to pack light, but I don't think I can pack light enough to comfortably drag a bicycle with me through numerous airports). The AbyB Tour Kit credits this insider information to a Bill Keiss, of which I immediately sought to take advantage: At Amtrak.com, one can book a one-way or roundtrip bus ticket from Portland, OR (PDX) to Astoria-Mini Mart Bus Stop, OR (ARI) for $18.00, and there is also an option to "Add Bike to Trip" for $5 per bicycle. Coincidentally - or maybe on purpose - the bus stop in Astoria is walking distance to the official tour hotel.

In my experience as an executive assistant [job #1], frequently booking Amtrak train travel for my bosses between NYC and D.C., fares are generally fully refundable in advance of a scheduled trip. And, in the Portland-to-Astoria leg of my trip, Amtrak provides a savings of over $100 in comparison to various motorcoach options.

In the meantime, another jaunt to Brooklyn resulted in the latest acquisitions from R&A Cycles and the correlated dent in my cycling fund:

Women's Selle Italia Gel Flow Saddle - $159.99 
Specialized Toupe Team Saddle 2010
Arundel Mandible (water bottle cage): $64.95
Arundel Mandible: Another $64.95
Tacx Tao Water Bottle Cage x2: <$20.00
Polar 24oz 20oz Water Bottle (red white) x2: $11.99 (though it turns out that I could have bought the bottles on the Internet for $8.45-9.99/each, but it's not worth the subway fare to return them to Brooklyn within the next 7 days)
Topeak Joe Blow II Floor Pump: $45.00
Topeak The Mini 9: $19.95 (might be the smallest tool kit on the planet)
Blackburn Airstick 2Stage: $29.99
Park Tool Tire Lever Set (pack of 3): $4.50
8.875% Sales Tax: $36.68 (thank you, New York City)
Grand Total of latest acquisitions: $449.99

I'm beginning to have a new appreciation for the expression, "money doesn't grow on trees," but it has to be nice to be like Lance Armstrong and produce it from pedal strokes.

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