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  1. #1
    No Heroes EvoFX's Avatar
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    bike tour, flying or taking train

    this summer we are going on a tour from san fran to boston, and are looking at heading back in august by train or plane, what would be the lease expensive way and how to do that?

    time is not much of an issue, since ill have about 2 weeks to get back home before school starts.


    if i were to take the train/plane do we have to pack up the bike?

    i have never gone on a trip were i had to fly back to my destination, but i have to fly back out for college at the end of the month, so there would be no way to bike back

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    I found you a flight for $235 on southwest - friday the thirteenth, actually!@
    Bikes are 50 bucks. 'Most all your luggage is free.

    I found you a train for $193. Pack the bike like your true love! Pedal wrenches and stuff. 80-hour train ride.

    Check on shipping the bikes. $50 to a bike shop, $50 to fedex, per bike that is, and your problems become few.

    It all comes down to what you want to do, but you already knew that

  3. #3
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    I found you a flight for $235 on southwest - friday the thirteenth, actually!@
    Bikes are 50 bucks. 'Most all your luggage is free.

    I found you a train for $193. Pack the bike like your true love! Pedal wrenches and stuff. 80-hour train ride.

    Check on shipping the bikes. $50 to a bike shop, $50 to fedex, per bike that is, and your problems become few.

    It all comes down to what you want to do, but you already knew that

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    http://www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/bagregs.htm

    Look it up. Read the site above. Pick an airline from the list. Go to their website. Check the baggage policy as it concerns bicycles because those policies change all the time. And make a decision.

    And yes, if you fly, you'll have to pack the bicycle in some way. I suspect you'd have to do the same on Amtrak.

  5. #5
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    Bikes on Amtrak

    Amtrak charges $5 to check a bike as luggage - make sure that both the origin and destination have checked-bag service, not all stations do. On most trains, they require that the bike be boxed, but they aren't too concerned with the size of the box. When I went Philadelphia-Seattle, I found a box that was just the right size to lower the seat, turn the handlebars and roll the bike in without removing either wheel, and that was fine with them.

  6. #6
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I love the trains, hate planes.. But of course fly one one has to...What I don't trust about putting your bike on a plane.. Insurance.. Check out what they will pay should they damage or loose your bike.. Because of the value of a bike, some airlines say. Their value exceeds what they will reimburse.. Once an airline sent my bike onto Tahiti without us.. For 10 days I had no idea where my bike was.. And no guarantee it would be found.. They would pay me back about 200 dollars on a 2000 dollar bike..
    . About trains. Maybe they could loose a bike.? ?. Somehow I trust them more than the Airlines..
    Regarding Amtrak. Last time I considered using them. They had a policy , you could get off board and continue on the train the very next day.. Stay in a local hotel and re-board the next day as a continuing passage..
    Crossing the US, I 'd want to stop at Springfield , Ill. somewhere in Colorado,maybe Vegas. Particularly if i had my bike along to do a couple local rides or two..
    Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living






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  7. #7
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gorshkov View Post
    Amtrak charges $5 to check a bike as luggage - make sure that both the origin and destination have checked-bag service, not all stations do. On most trains, they require that the bike be boxed, but they aren't too concerned with the size of the box. When I went Philadelphia-Seattle, I found a box that was just the right size to lower the seat, turn the handlebars and roll the bike in without removing either wheel, and that was fine with them.
    For Amtrak, based on my single experience last spring...
    By far the easiest is to call ahead to be sure they have a box. The Amtrak boxes are $15 I think and huge. Then just ride to the station, take the pedals off and rotate the handlebars. The boxes are so big you probably won't need to lower the seat. Packing is quick and easy and you can have the bike ready to ride in minutes on the other end.

    Either stuff your panniers into a big duffel bag or strap them together. I managed to strap mine together into two bundles that were small enough to pass as carry on. The handlebar bag went as a personal item.

    Be sure that all stops where you board or depart have baggage service. Also be sure you have a pedal wrench. They will most likely loan you a packing tape dispenser, but taking your own just in case is a good idea. I picked up some tape on the way to the station. On hind sight I should have asked about the tape when I called to verify they had a box.

    My experience with Amtrak this Spring was a very positive one. One nice thing was that when I needed to change my travel date and time Amtrak just said OK, done. Changing plans at the last minute when flying can be a huge hassle.

  8. #8
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    My preference would be to go by train and get a sleeper car. I rode Amtrak from San Luis Obispo to Portland a couple summers ago. That involved riding overnight. I had to sit up in my seat. It was a miserable night. Other than that I love train travel, although you never get there on time. If I had to go a long way and couldn't afford a sleeper, I'd take a plane and get there on the same day.

  9. #9
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe View Post
    My preference would be to go by train and get a sleeper car. I rode Amtrak from San Luis Obispo to Portland a couple summers ago. That involved riding overnight. I had to sit up in my seat. It was a miserable night. Other than that I love train travel, although you never get there on time. If I had to go a long way and couldn't afford a sleeper, I'd take a plane and get there on the same day.
    Yeah, the seats were not the greatest for sleeping. It was barely OK for a 14 hour ride, but going coast to coast would be pretty uncomfortable unless you did it in hops doing stuff along the way. The sleeper car option is pretty pricey though.

  10. #10
    nun
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    Yeah, the seats were not the greatest for sleeping. It was barely OK for a 14 hour ride, but going coast to coast would be pretty uncomfortable unless you did it in hops doing stuff along the way. The sleeper car option is pretty pricey though.
    Do the train and get a sleeper if you can afford it. Who knows you might bump into Eva Marie Saint. When I do my cross country I plan to use the train as it will just add to the adventure

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    Also, if you get a sleeper it includes meals in the dining car, which is real fun.

    Quote Originally Posted by nun View Post
    Do the train and get a sleeper if you can afford it. Who knows you might bump into Eva Marie Saint. When I do my cross country I plan to use the train as it will just add to the adventure

  12. #12
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by int19 View Post
    Also, if you get a sleeper it includes meals in the dining car, which is real fun.
    I didn't realize that. It makes the price sound a lot better.

  13. #13
    Hooked on Touring
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    Quote Originally Posted by nun View Post
    Do the train and get a sleeper if you can afford it.
    (I posted yesterday - but it got lost in space.)

    Do coach.
    I serious doubt you can afford the sleeper -
    Since it appears you guys are in college.
    The cheapest roomette adds $632 to the price.
    Amtrak's coach seats are at least twice the size of airline seats.

    Here's the lowdown -
    (Summer schedules may have slightly different times)
    You leave Boston at 11:55am on the Lake Shore Limited
    Arrive in Chicago the next morning at 9:45am
    Leave Chicago at 2:00pm on the California Zephyr
    Arrive in Emeryville at 4:10 two days later

    You only have one train change in Chicago.
    You don't have to worry about missing your stop
    Since both Chicago and Emeryville are the end of the line for each train.
    This will also help you bikes get there with you.

    The station usually has big bike boxes for $15 - plus $5 baggage fee.
    That is a lot easier than schlepping a bike box to the airport
    And then finding someplace to disassemble it.
    Plus, changes are a lot easier and cheaper on Amtrak in case you change plans.

    Not to mention that it gives you time to recompose and see the country.
    Plus you can have a nice lunch in Chicago on the lakefront.

  14. #14
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
    (I posted yesterday - but it got lost in space.)

    Do coach.
    I serious doubt you can afford the sleeper -
    Since it appears you guys are in college.
    The cheapest roomette adds $632 to the price.
    Amtrak's coach seats are at least twice the size of airline seats.

    Here's the lowdown -
    (Summer schedules may have slightly different times)
    You leave Boston at 11:55am on the Lake Shore Limited
    Arrive in Chicago the next morning at 9:45am
    Leave Chicago at 2:00pm on the California Zephyr
    Arrive in Emeryville at 4:10 two days later

    You only have one train change in Chicago.
    You don't have to worry about missing your stop
    Since both Chicago and Emeryville are the end of the line for each train.
    This will also help you bikes get there with you.

    The station usually has big bike boxes for $15 - plus $5 baggage fee.
    That is a lot easier than schlepping a bike box to the airport
    And then finding someplace to disassemble it.
    Plus, changes are a lot easier and cheaper on Amtrak in case you change plans.

    Not to mention that it gives you time to recompose and see the country.
    Plus you can have a nice lunch in Chicago on the lakefront.


    I haven't taken Amtrak and a bike huge distances, but I have done Charleston, SC to Fayetteville, NC a couple of times with bikes. The first time I had my "big" bike with me, CHS had a used bike box they gave me, paid the $5 baggage fee. On my bike I had to lower the saddle, remove the pedals and turn the handle bars, took ten minutes tops. I left the box at the station in FAY.

    The next two times I had my Raleigh Twenty with me, I basically folded it up, rotated the handle bars down and put it in a huge duffel bag, it went as checked baggage no fee.

    It is only about a 3 hour ride from CHS to FAY but Amtrak beats the crap out of 4 hours of windshield time at 70mph and hoping you don't spend several hours at a dead stop due to someone's inability to keep their vehicle upright and between the lines.

    I ride this train at least twice a month round trip.

    Flying "might" be a bit cheaper but IMHO it isn't really when you factor in all the hassles.

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by nun View Post
    Do the train and get a sleeper if you can afford it. Who knows you might bump into Eva Marie Saint. When I do my cross country I plan to use the train as it will just add to the adventure
    I rode Amtrack during the summer on my way to Virgina Beach. I started at Newark New Jesey and ended at NewPort News Virginia for a total of almost 9 hours! I love trains and use them every day but for some reason, Amtrack seats are NOT comfortable after 5 hours! Since the trip started in the middle of the night, I tried to sleep on those seats and it was horrible. All the noise from the conductor calling each stop plus the uncomfortable seat had me waking up at all hours.

    I ended up taking Greyhound back to New York and it was almost the same amount of time. However, I believe Greyhound spent quality time and money on those seats because it just felt more comfortable. I guess Greyhound had to focus on the seat because you really can't walk around. Unfortunately, Amtrak did not do this!

    I looked on the net and sleeper cars are EXPENSIVE! Superliners are $166.00 dollars a day and a Delux Bedroom is $332.00 a day!

    I too remember Eva Marie Saint in North by North West and she was hot! Eva is STILL acting and the last time I saw her was in Superman Returns where she played Clark Kent's adopted mother. I could barely recognize her because she looked about 100 years old! What a shame. Such a beautiful woman and how father time took it all away.

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    I rode Amtrack during the summer on my way to Virgina Beach. I started at Newark New Jesey and ended at NewPort News Virginia for a total of almost 9 hours! I love trains and use them every day but for some reason, Amtrack seats are NOT comfortable after 5 hours! Since the trip started in the middle of the night, I tried to sleep on those seats and it was horrible. All the noise from the conductor calling each stop plus the uncomfortable seat had me waking up at all hours.

    I ended up taking Greyhound back to New York and it was almost the same amount of time. However, I believe Greyhound spent quality time and money on those seats because it just felt more comfortable. I guess Greyhound had to focus on the seat because you really can't walk around. Unfortunately, Amtrak did not do this!
    Interesting ... because I rode Amtrak from Sacramento to Eugene back in 2005, and the seats were really comfortable and lovely. Then I took Greyhound from Eugene to Vancouver, and it was like riding a city bus ... only there's not usually a brawl in the back of the city busses I've been on. It was horrible!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    For Amtrak, based on my single experience last spring...
    By far the easiest is to call ahead to be sure they have a box. The Amtrak boxes are $15 I think and huge. Then just ride to the station, take the pedals off and rotate the handlebars. The boxes are so big you probably won't need to lower the seat. Packing is quick and easy and you can have the bike ready to ride in minutes on the other end.
    I rode Amtrak last summer. They asked me to remove the pedals. I was specifically told that I couldn't put any additional luggage inside the box. My bike had a 100 or 110mm stem, drop bars with 89mm reach, and Shimano STI shifters. I had to remove the bars to get my bike to fit in the box; the stem was just too long to fit in the very narrow box I was given. I use a threadless stem, so this was quick and easy; just allow a few extra minutes for it.

    My experience with Amtrak this Spring was a very positive one. One nice thing was that when I needed to change my travel date and time Amtrak just said OK, done. Changing plans at the last minute when flying can be a huge hassle.
    I was surprised to find that Amtrak treats boxed bikes just like an airline would: poorly.

    At my destination, my bike box was removed from the train, placed flat on a luggage cart, and then all of the other luggage being removed was stacked on top of it! The box was crushed, though the bike only received a couple of scratches; luckily the frame took most of the weight rather than, say, the wheels.

    Based on this experience, I would offer two pieces of advice:

    1) Bring a large Sharpie or Day-Glo orange stickers and add a bunch of "This Side Up" arrows to the box

    2) Read the luggage contract very carefully before leaving the check-in window, especially the section about liability. On mine, there was a blank for the declared value of the bike which the ticket agent had helpfully filled in with "$100". I didn't notice that until I was looking at the scratched frame and trying to decide what to do. I believe there's also a clause about their maximum liability, though I forget what the limit is... maybe $1000?

  18. #18
    mev
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    I was surprised to find that Amtrak treats boxed bikes just like an airline would: poorly.
    I just returned from a trip with Amtrak this afternoon. I took the train down from Portland to San Diego and did the HI-AYH Christmas Bike Ride. On the return, I spent a week in SF Bay Area before returning today.

    I've flown with my bike >25 times and taken Amtrak ~10 times. On average, the boxes came out better on the train than flying. On this trip, I was pleasantly surprised and how good condition the box (and bike) did the trip both down and back. I'm sure there are situations where all other luggage is stacked on top of the bike box, though I've seen that at least as often on the plane and haven't personally experienced it yet on Amtrak.

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    I was surprised to find that Amtrak treats boxed bikes just like an airline would: poorly.

    At my destination, my bike box was removed from the train, placed flat on a luggage cart, and then all of the other luggage being removed was stacked on top of it! The box was crushed, though the bike only received a couple of scratches; luckily the frame took most of the weight rather than, say, the wheels.
    From my experience, if you're going with Amtrak, when the train pulls into the station at your destination, gather all your belongings together into the easiest to handle bundle ... a backpack would be good. Then look out the window and visually locate the cart on the platform. There won't likely be more than one. Then get ready to sprint off the train as soon as they open the door and grab the cart. If all goes well, everyone else will be hugging relatives. Your goal, however, is to get the cart. Then stand right next to the train, and as soon as they unload your bicycle ... grab it and put it on your cart.

    Someone gave me that advice before my 2005 trip, and it seemed to work for me!

  20. #20
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Has something changed in the last few years? In the summer of 2008 I could not bring my bicycle on the train from the East Coast(Maine). Could take the bicycle from Chicago all the way to the West Coast though. Something about the old rails/bridges and using the smaller trains.

    Don't know if I was fed a line of bull but.... If I could have taken it along it would have saved me a hundred bucks in shipping UPS.

    And although it was a really nice train trip.... It was 4 days... Yikes.
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  21. #21
    mev
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyakdiver View Post
    Has something changed in the last few years?
    More likely it was (and perhaps still is) something specific to one particular train line. I've found differences occasionally in whether it was required for the bike to be boxed depending on what segment. What is also true is that not every station is a "baggage station" and hence they won't load/offload checked baggage at those stations.

    Last time I came up the East Coast on Amtrak was more than a decade ago, but then I was able to take my bike from Savannah GA to Burlington VT on Amtrak.

  22. #22
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyakdiver View Post
    Has something changed in the last few years? In the summer of 2008 I could not bring my bicycle on the train from the East Coast(Maine). Could take the bicycle from Chicago all the way to the West Coast though. Something about the old rails/bridges and using the smaller trains.

    Don't know if I was fed a line of bull but.... If I could have taken it along it would have saved me a hundred bucks in shipping UPS.

    And although it was a really nice train trip.... It was 4 days... Yikes.
    AFAIK all east coast trains below the DC area will not allow a bicycle on board UNLESS it is a small folder bagged up or a full sized bike in a bike box traveling as luggage. It also may be true once you get a bit north of the NYC area. I have seen a couple of Brommies that were folded and in bags in the large suitcase area at the back of the passenger car, they belonged to a couple going from Savannah to the DC area. I most likely will be taking a full sized bike between NC and Boston in the spring. It will have to go as baggage.

    There are quite a few stations that do not have baggage service, if they don't you are SOL unless you can carry a folder onboard.

    Aaron
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  23. #23
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    AFAIK all east coast trains below the DC area will not allow a bicycle on board UNLESS it is a small folder bagged up or a full sized bike in a bike box traveling as luggage. It also may be true once you get a bit north of the NYC area. I have seen a couple of Brommies that were folded and in bags in the large suitcase area at the back of the passenger car, they belonged to a couple going from Savannah to the DC area. I most likely will be taking a full sized bike between NC and Boston in the spring. It will have to go as baggage.

    There are quite a few stations that do not have baggage service, if they don't you are SOL unless you can carry a folder onboard.

    Aaron
    This is what I was dealing with. Really did enjoy the train.. Just not the 4 days it took from coast to coast.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member badger_biker's Avatar
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    Does anyone with recent Amtrak experience know if they have any kind of WI-FI or outlets for plugging in a charger for phone/ipod?

    I'm planning to take the Empire Builder from Mpls to Portland and then down to Salem in July for a tour in Oregon and having music will be critical for that long of a ride.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by badger_biker View Post
    Does anyone with recent Amtrak experience know if they have any kind of WI-FI
    Not generally, but I think the Acela trains do now. Some stations do as well.

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