Touring - Traveling Advice
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01-07-07, 04:17 PM
This is probably the wrong place to put this. I assume everyone has well rounded advice on travelling that is why I am asking you. I am pretty much carfree except for backpacking trips. I own a beater but I doubt it will make it out to the Grand Canyon. I want to take the Amtrak out to Flagstaff AZ then a shuttle to the Canyon. Then after the Canyon I am going to be working in Colorado Springs. I am worried about shipping my bicycle directly to my boss because I would also be shipping 5 1/2 weeks worth of stuff with it to. I do not know if he would appreciate that to much. Or Should I take my bike with me on Amtrak then find a place to stash it in Flagstaff. Then take it with me on the Greyhound bus to Colorado Springs CO.
01-07-07, 04:18 PM
Also what should I look out for when I ride on the train or on the bus I don't want to loose my stuff
Train travel is OK.. beware Amtrak doesn't have a good timetabling record, because it doesn't own the tracks and has to fit in with the movements of other goods trains if it falls out of sequence.
Others will chime in on their experiences closer to your route... mine was only LA to Seattle in 2005.
As mentioned on another thread, see if there are people on the warm showers list with whom you could stash your gear.
Beware Greyhound! You might be lucky, but I've found they have a thing against bikes... you might get it on the bus you take or you might have to send it as separate freight, with all the hassle that involved. It is likely to cost you, too. Research it a bit on the internet, but don't be surprised if the transport of your bike is completely opposite to the policy on the website.
You might consider a one-way car rental.
I have taken my bicycle on both Amtrak and Greyhound.
1) It is always (or almost always) late. I'm not talking about running 15 minutes late ... I'm talking about 8 hours. Just something to plan for.
2) Look at the Amtrak website for the station where you plan to start your trip and the station at your destination. Some Amtrak stations allow you to check luggage ... some don't. Some allow bicycles ... some don't. More don't than do.
3) Sacramento was one station that allowed bicycles ... and I have to say that they were very good. I got there about noon, and my train was scheduled to leave at 11 pm. I didn't want to haul my boxed bicycle, laundry bag full of panniers, etc., and my Carradice carry-on all over downtown Sacramento while I waited, and I didn't want to sit at the station guarding my stuff. So I went over to the baggage counter and asked the attendant if I could check my bicycle that early. No problem at all. I checked both my bicycle and laundry bag without any difficulties. Then I asked if I could also leave my Carradice there for a few hours and pick it up a bit later. I thought that would really be a long shot ... but for $5 it was no problem at all. I was free to roam around downtown Sacramento before finally returning to the station and retrieving my Carradice in the evening. Unfortunately the train didn't actually arrive till about 7:30 am, so I had to try to sleep on the hard benches of the station all night, but at least they were really good about the luggage!
4) Eugene, OR is another station that allows bicycles ... and here's something you might want to make a note of. When the train finally pulled into the station (now about 12 hours after the time it was supposed to arrive), everyone piled out and rushed to the arms of their waiting loved ones ...... everyone but me. I rushed out and bolted for the one and only wheeled cart in the place. I spotted it on the platform as we pulled in. I had it loaded with my bicycle and laundry bag, and everything by the time the rest of the passengers detached themselves from their families and went looking for one. I got a lot of very dark looks when they realized I had the one and only cart available ... but who cares!! I was on the ball ... they weren't! Plus I had about twice the luggage as anyone else with my boxed bicycle. So, when you pull into the station ... keep an eye out for the rare and elusive luggage carts!
1) I wouldn't recommend riding any distance on a US Greyhound. If you were travelling in Canada or Australia, I wouldn't have a problem recommending Greyhound ..... but they are scary things in the US <<shudder>>.
2) You might be able to check your stuff early ... I was able to check my bicycle and laundry bag in Eugene ... but I don't think that you can do that everywhere. Greyhound also provided lockers where I could store carry-on stuff so I could wander around downtown Eugene freely while waiting for my bus.
3) The luggage carts are also few and far between at Greyhound stations. If you can find one, grab it immediately!!
4) Sometimes Greyhound can be a bit odd about bicycles.
--- At some stations they seem to have no problem at all with the idea of loading the bicycle up with the rest of the luggage.
--- At some stations the baggage handlers seem offended by the idea of having to load a bicycle box and they can be a bit rough with it. I will usually wait outside the bus, watching what is going on, until my bicycle has been safely stowed underneath. On one bus change (in the US they seem to need to off-load all the passenger and luggage and put them all onto a different bus every 100 miles or so), the guy had tossed my bicycle off the bus (it was airborne!) before I could get close enough to stop him ... but I can tell you, he didn't toss it back onto the bus!!
--- And at some stations someone might come along and tell you that you have to take your bicycle to the cargo area and send it that way ... meaning that it will arrive 2 or 3 days after you do (but perhaps in your case, you might want your bicycle to arrive a few days later). Sometimes they might even threaten to charge you extra, over and above the extra you've already paid for the bicycle. I discovered that the way around this is: A) when you are standing around outside the bus waiting for everything to be loaded, make friends with the driver. If you're really nice about it, often the driver will have no problem loading a bicycle on. B) stand your ground (politely, of course) ... especially if they want to charge you extra. Also keep every shred of paper they give you along the way as proof that you've paid all the dues for the bicycle and that the bicycle is allowed on the bus with you.
5) Sit near the front. Not only will that keep you out of the way of the psychos who are brawling in the back of the bus, but it will give you a clear path to get out the door to keep your eye on what's happening with your stuff.
Just a few tips. :)
01-07-07, 05:54 PM
I ws on Greyhound and Amtrak within the last yearn, and they were both very cool about my bike. Amtrak was 10 hours late, but just like Machka I checked my box early and went for a stroll around town. Greyhound the bus was great, but the pasengers can be a bit scary. I second sitting as for toward the front as possible. The nice part about the bus is you can see if they have your stuff loaded, and make sure it doesn't get unloaded at the wrong stop.
I was in Flag last summer, and rode bike to Crested Butte. If you have the time, it is a beautul ride, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
01-07-07, 06:08 PM
Thanks, when I was explaining my traveling affairs with my parents they thought I have an adventure in arriving. My list of problems is one I am not 21, therefore I can not rent a car. Second I am not going to be actively using my bike during my week backpacking. Third I have no money so I have to do this as cheaply as possible. I would rather tour then backpack but the person I am going with doesn't have a touring bike and I do not want to pull weight for some one else. If it was a significant other no problem because we would be sharing gear but this person is not the case so there would be doubles of the heavy items. Also I get credit for humanties in college if I vist the Canyon that is why I choose the destination. Thanks for the help :)
Well, definitely check out the hosting lists for the areas you are visiting. That's about as cheap as you're going to get storage-wise or as a base to work from. I can understand about the rental car, BUT...
The backpackers here have noticeboards with people posting for rides to various desintations all the time. I know backpackers are a bit light on the ground in America, but maybe you can track down a public notice board somewhere in Flagstaff (shopping mall or supermarket?) and put up something there to get the word around while you are in the canyon. You can offer to part-pay the gas cost which might be cheaper than the bus.
01-07-07, 06:27 PM
Awesome thanks, do you think flagstaff craigslist would be a good place to start? I heard there is a really cool hostel in Flagstaff I wonder if they would have any advice thanks a lot :)
Every little bit helps, including craigslist and definintely the hostel. You *will* need a phone, of course. But it only takes one good, positive response and you're set. If you don't get one, there's nothing lost, least of all cash, but at least you have improved the odds.
Just another thought -- truckstops. I don't know what the official line is in the States on this sort of thing, but if you are personable enough, and I was a truckie, a bit of good company on the way would be nice.
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