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Old 03-04-11, 12:35 PM   #1
cuattop
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San Diego Amtrak Ride

We live in Las Vegas and would like to do the Amtrak trip where we start in Santa Ana, ride to San Diego and take the Amtrak train back. What time of year is best for this trip? Any other suggestions or things to watch out for?
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Old 03-04-11, 01:13 PM   #2
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Actually, right now is a fantastic time to do it. May Gray and June Gloom haven't set in yet, so the days are bright and sunny, but not to hot - generally around 75 F on the coast.
Be sure to bring a picture ID to go through Pendleton; if you don't, you have to go on the freeway.
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Old 03-04-11, 02:18 PM   #3
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One little tip about riding the Amtrak. The bike racks are on the lower level of the train. All but the disabled and the elderly are required to sit on the upper level of the train. I usually bring a small lock and lock down the cable that clips around the bike. This saves me from having to check on my bike at every stop. I'm sure that the bike is probably safe without the lock but it only takes one person to prove me wrong.

The ride you are considering is a fun and scenic ride.

Last edited by LawnChair; 03-04-11 at 02:21 PM.
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Old 03-04-11, 02:38 PM   #4
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you could also take the coaster to o-side and metrolink from o-side to santa ana. it may or may not be better than amtrak, but it is an option
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Old 03-04-11, 04:48 PM   #5
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Any time of year is great for this ride. I've done it through surprise rainstorms, and still had tons of fun.

Through Camp Pendleton, you have two options - ride through the Marine base, (bring ID and wear a helmet), or take the shoulder of the 5 freeway. I can't stand the noise of riding freeway shoulders, myself, (especially this part - the 5 is very busy), so I go with the Marine base.

Amtrak is surprisingly easy with a bike. Show up and buy your ticket, bring on your bike. Have fun!
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Old 03-04-11, 05:24 PM   #6
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I hate Amtrak on nice sunny days when there are lots of cyclists out. I've been bounced a couple times now because there was no more room for bicycles. I now ONLY use the Coaster. The Coaster has no restriction on the amount of bicycles they'll accept per train. Plus they're less expensive, run more frequently and don't require an ID.
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Old 03-04-11, 05:47 PM   #7
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I hate Amtrak on nice sunny days when there are lots of cyclists out. I've been bounced a couple times now because there was no more room for bicycles. I now ONLY use the Coaster. The Coaster has no restriction on the amount of bicycles they'll accept per train. Plus they're less expensive, run more frequently and don't require an ID.
This is good to know. I was bounced from Amtrak once but I just got on a different car when the conductor wasn't looking and just put my bike in the baggage area. Does the Coaster operate on Sunday?
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Old 03-05-11, 09:40 AM   #8
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Is there a site with a route description? I've thought about doing the organized ride but it hasn't ever been possible. It just occurred to me: I could do this on my own. I live near San Luis Obispo. I could ride the train down, do the ride, and take AMTRAK home. It soundes like a fun weekend trip.

Does anyone have any comments on this plan? Advice? Maps? Places to stay, etc.?
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Old 03-05-11, 07:10 PM   #9
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Sounds like a good plan. You can take the train all the way to Anaheim, and use the SART to PCH just north of Newport Beach, or start further north and use the LA River Trail to Long Beach and pick up PCH about 5 miles south at Seal Beach, or use the SGRT and connect via various routes in the north, and pick up PCH in Seal Beach. It depends how many miles you want to make the trip. There are several variations off of PCH that can add interest and avoid traffic, like using Bayside in Newport, the State Park in Dana Point, and going through the Marine base at Ocean side. If you want to avoid actually gong into SD, Solana Beach has very nice overnight facilities, restaurants, and a quaint Amtrak station.

You can find a number of threads on this, and other forums, for rides using each of the foregoing. If a gpx or tcx file would be of help, I'm sure those are available as well.

Last edited by JustMe; 03-05-11 at 07:19 PM. Reason: Add info
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Old 03-07-11, 06:14 PM   #10
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Using the Coaster and Metrolink together usually does't work well. They are both commuter trains and schedules don't mesh very often.
Amtrak is also generally more comfortable; has a cafe that serves Arrogant Bastard.
I'm pretty sure you'd have no problem sitting downstairs with your bike if you desire. I'd lock it and enjoy the better view upstairs.
Watch the train schedule, there is one run a day that has no bike racks.
Instead of Santa Ana, I'd recommend Irvine as a start. Just get some hill riding in the beginning if you want to make it 100 even.
Anaheim is right off the SART if you want to start there.

AAA gets a 10% discount on Amtrak if you buy 3 days in advance. You won't be committed to any particular day or train unless you buy Business Class (not worth it), ticket is good for most days of the year. If you're gonna ride Amtrak at least a few times a year, join the rewards club - you get a free Surfliner trip pretty quickly.

This is on my list of rides to do, maybe I'll knock it out this summer before King Ridge.
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Old 03-08-11, 11:41 AM   #11
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This time through April is probably the best. Once Spring break and summer hits, traffic along PCH (and anywhere) gets crazy. Plus not too hot yet. Even along the beach, weatehr can get out (along for NV youa re probably use to hot). The only concern would be to make sure the train for your return takes bikes. Not all do... and yes I second the Irvine start. That's where the Amtrak Century begins - to get 100 miles they ride you out through Irvine and Portola Ranch. Frankly skip that and save the mileage for some exploring on your way down. I think you can get the Amtrak route slip off the OCW.org, Bikeirvine.org or OCR.com websites.
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Old 03-09-11, 08:07 AM   #12
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If you're not in a rush, your group can stay in San Diego for a while, then come back. That way you get to see some sights, eat some good food, and freshen up.

Why does it seem that riders are in a rush to get back? In Hawaii, Haleakala is a great place to explore, I mean the top of the volcano.
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Old 03-09-11, 11:44 AM   #13
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Are you folks just doing this for fun? I'm 99% sure I misread at this point but I thought the Amtrak Century "event" was some time in September.
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Old 03-09-11, 11:59 AM   #14
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Are you folks just doing this for fun? I'm 99% sure I misread at this point but I thought the Amtrak Century "event" was some time in September.
They aren't interested in doing "The Amtrak" they are intersted in riding down to San Diego and taking a train back..
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Old 03-09-11, 07:26 PM   #15
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Correct.
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Old 03-09-11, 09:13 PM   #16
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There's a routeslip in this thread from the Irvine transit center to the downtown SD station. http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...urrito+century

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Old 03-16-11, 07:56 PM   #17
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Just got off a Pacific Surliner train. Took a good luck at the bike racks. Three per car, hooks for both wheels with bikes vertical. There are cables about five feet long attached to the top hook. An eye of about 2 inches at the end. To lock your bike you'd only need to bring a padlock. You could probably snake the cable thru the frame and both wheels and use the eye and padlock to get back to the cable.
I took a pic but can't post a pic from my crackberry - maybe manana.
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Old 03-17-11, 05:20 PM   #18
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Here is the cell phone pic of said rack. There are three in a row there, I just fit two in the pic. You can see the hooks and cable with eye. There is also a clip on the eye that you could hang a helmet or bag or something on.

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File Type: jpg Amtrak Surfliner Rack Vert.jpg (110.3 KB, 20 views)
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