Any chance you could bribe one of the club members with a big car to drive it down for you in return for a free weekend? With your mates pulling out so late, are any of their entries and accomodation going spare?
Hi Terry, I don't think that you are going to get very far with the lorry option. This might sound like a silly idea, but have you tried UPS. I see then delivering new bikes into Bromley Bikes from my office window virtually every day. You would still need to pull the bike apart (I guess) , so probably not much better than taking it with you on the plane. Also, you are going to have a big problem if the bike does not turn up !. I know that there are people doing the 2nd Etape from Bigfoot. Maybe if you put a message on their forum, someone might be able to help, especially if you made a contribution towards their costs.
Hope that helps ! Steve