Cycling the Dordogne 2011: The Handcycle Shipping Saga

Renault Modus

You may remember that I had planned to ship the handcycle back to the US via FedEx at the end of the tour, because we couldn’t rent a large enough car to get it back to the airport.

I may have also mentioned that complicating things was the fact that Monday, the day before our departure, was a holiday in France. Among other things, this forced us to rent a car on Saturday that we didn’t need until Monday.

I tried to arrange shipping in advance, but discovered that FedEx doesn’t work that way. “Call the day before,” the FedEx International Freight coordinator in the US said airily. “The day before is a holiday in France,” I said. “Should I call the day before that? Will anyone speak English? Will they know what customs forms I need to fill out?”

The tour coordinator rescued me briefly from my panic by telling me that the hotel was very helpful, and he was sure it would all work out. Fast forward to Monday morning. The tour leaders all had to leave by 9:00 am. At the hotel, probably because it was a holiday, no one was working who spoke English, and my French wasn’t up to dealing with FedEx. Which didn’t matter, because FedEx was closed. So I started trying to schedule the shipment online, and Allen worked on figuring out customs forms.

Several hours later, after many online dead ends (“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that”), we had managed to establish that a shipper with a US address cannot, in fact, schedule a shipment from France to the United States. While I tried not to melt down, and my husband doggedly took apart the handcycle, our dear friends offered to drive with us to Toulouse (a 4 hour round trip for them) with some of the stuff in their car.

Renault ModusEventually we all agreed that this was the only way. We packed our bags, checked out, and set about putting stuff in the cars. My husband had gotten the handcycle box into our little Renault Modus, but was certain the wheelchair would not fit in as well. But Allen and Claudia—Claudia in particular—looked at our car with the bike box, wheel bag, and our two bags in it, and exclaimed, “Look how much more room there is in here!” I went and sat in my seat and refrained from offering helpful advice, and Allen and Claudia poked at things and moved them around a bit, and lo! everything fit. My husband was flabbergasted. Claudia helpfully added, “And you still have enough room for a hitchhiker!”

So I didn’t have to ship the bike, and Allen and Claudia didn’t have to drive to Toulouse. All my planning (which was inadequate in this area anyway) came to naught, but it worked out anyway.


1 Comment

  1. Kimberly

    I guess after all that packing and near panic *was not* the time to ask your husband to take a photo of all the contents in be back of that car, lol. So glad it all worked out in the end.


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