Thursday, August 8, 2013

Amtrak by Bike

amtrak observation car

After our SF to LA bike tour, we enjoyed our return trip on Amtrak. This turned out to be a much more pleasant and affordable alternative to flying. We rode our bikes right up to Union Station in Los Angeles and were directed to the oversize baggage area. The friendly attendant sold us two bike boxes for $15 each. After removal of the handlebars and pedals, the bikes rolled right into the large boxes. (It is necessary to bring your own tools.)

We boarded the train and took our seats on the Coast Starlight, bound for Emeryville. It was great fun viewing the coast from the train. The tracks ran alongside many of the roads we had ridden on our southbound bike tour, and we even spotted one of the campgrounds we had stayed in. It was like reliving our tour in reverse. Los Angeles to Emeryville by train is about a twelve hour journey, which seems long compared to flying or even driving, but since we had just spent two weeks covering the same distance on our bikes, the trip seemed fast. It's all relative. Most of our time was spent gazing at the scenery from the observation car. We also had a couple of meals in the dining car, where we got to know some of our fellow passengers.

When we finally arrived at our destination, it was coming up on ten 'o clock at night. Reassembling the bikes and disposing of the boxes was something we would rather not have done at that hour. This was especially disappointing since the car we were in had a large, empty cargo area on the lower level. It would have been far easier to just roll our bikes in there unboxed and in one piece, and roll them back out at our destination. There must be some nonsensical bureaucratic policy which prevents such a simple and efficient method of transporting bikes. Still, for this purpose, it beats the airlines.

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