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Late Train out of Pittsburgh

Old 09-15-21, 11:52 PM
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David.MPB
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Late Train out of Pittsburgh

I will be completing the C&O and the GAP in a few weeks then boarding a train to Chicago. Unfortunately the train doesn't leave until midnight.
I wonder if anyone has any suggestions on where to hang out to be safe, prior to going to the station. From what I can tell the interior of the station isn't too spectacular.
I imagine getting to the station by 10pm would be sufficient to wait around and prepare for loading and boarding. But that leaves several hours between arriving and moving toward the station and there's only so much food and coffee to be had.

I would like to minimize the amount of cycling needed in the dark.

I considered contacting a Warm Showers host but I don't need overnight accommodations - though a shower would be awesome.
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Old 09-16-21, 04:33 AM
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Hang out at Bike Heaven just off the trail. I don't know how late they are open but it might be worth it to use up the extra hours.
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Old 09-16-21, 09:13 AM
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Depends on your alternatives but I had a good experience in the Cultural District. After you "finish" the Gap at the Point, continue around and up the Allegheny River (river on your left) on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. Turn right (still on the trail) and take the trail up through the Convention Center. You don't hit any streets until it stubs out at 10th Street. Take the next right turn onto Penn Ave and you'll be in the Cultural District.

Penn Ave has closed 2 traffic lanes to provide bike lanes and outdoor dining room and there are lots of pubs, restaurants, etc (and bike traffic) in the next few blocks. I'm partial to the Standard Market and Pint House at 947 Penn Ave (next to the Courtyard by Marriot). Plentiful seating in/out and bike parking. Best of all, open late, many people around and only 2 blocks from train station. Good luck.

Cultutral District shaded pale yellow and outlined.

Last edited by MidLife50; 09-16-21 at 09:14 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 09-16-21, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Colorado Kid View Post
Hang out at Bike Heaven just off the trail. I don't know how late they are open but it might be worth it to use up the extra hours.
Bicycle Heaven's website says they close at 7:00 PM. Since the OP says he'll be here in a couple of weeks, that'll mean he'd be riding back to the train station at dusk.

Originally Posted by MidLife50 View Post
Depends on your alternatives but I had a good experience in the Cultural District. After you "finish" the Gap at the Point, continue around and up the Allegheny River (river on your left) on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. Turn right (still on the trail) and take the trail up through the Convention Center. You don't hit any streets until it stubs out at 10th Street. Take the next right turn onto Penn Ave and you'll be in the Cultural District.

Penn Ave has closed 2 traffic lanes to provide bike lanes and outdoor dining room and there are lots of pubs, restaurants, etc (and bike traffic) in the next few blocks. I'm partial to the Standard Market and Pint House at 947 Penn Ave (next to the Courtyard by Marriot). Plentiful seating in/out and bike parking. Best of all, open late, many people around and only 2 blocks from train station. Good luck.

Cultutral District shaded pale yellow and outlined.
Good advice here. I haven't eaten or hung out in the Cultural District for awhile so I have no exact restaurant or pub suggestions, but I ride through it on evening rides. It's a happenin' place. Feels safe, close to the train station, and right on a segregated bike path that runs up from Point State Park on Penn Avenue.


You can download the whole map here: Bike Pgh Map
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Old 09-16-21, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Colorado Kid View Post
Hang out at Bike Heaven just off the trail. I don't know how late they are open but it might be worth it to use up the extra hours.
Thankyou for that. I may well just pay a visit before coming back toward the station area. Maybe theyíll have something I just canít resist.
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Old 09-16-21, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Colorado Kid View Post
Hang out at Bike Heaven just off the trail. I don't know how late they are open but it might be worth it to use up the extra hours.
Thankyou for that. I may well just pay a visit before coming back toward the station area. Maybe theyíll have something I just canít resist.
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Old 09-16-21, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by MidLife50 View Post
Depends on your alternatives but I had a good experience in the Cultural District. After you "finish" the Gap at the Point, continue around and up the Allegheny River (river on your left) on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. Turn right (still on the trail) and take the trail up through the Convention Center. Ö.

Thanks so much for those details. That was an area that seemed most logical and Iíll take your experience as a positive reflection. As it will be a Friday night no doubt theyíll be plenty of people watching to be had.
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Old 09-16-21, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Altair 4 View Post
Bicycle Heaven's website says they close at 7:00 PM.

Good advice here. I haven't eaten or hung out in the Cultural District for awhile so I have no exact restaurant or pub suggestions, but I ride through it on evening rides. It's a happenin' place. Feels safe, close to the train station, and right on a segregated bike path that runs up from Point State Park on Penn Avenue.


You can download the whole map here:
Thankyou . I got the map. Iím fairly confident Iíll have time to visit the bike shop.
I may be overthinking but my chief concern is feeling safe as it gets later in the evening. Appreciate the insight.
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Old 09-16-21, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by David.MPB View Post
Unfortunately the train doesn't leave until midnight. I wonder if anyone has any suggestions on where to hang out to be safe, prior to going to the station.
First of all, I wouldn't be too worried - downtown Pittsburgh at night is pretty benign compared to anywhere in Chicago. But you could probably just walk to any of the hotels around the Convention Center, explain your needs to the concierge, and then sit in the lobby for as long as you need. You could probably also walk to the Primanti's a few blocks away and have a few drinks. If you're willing to bike for 10 minutes, you could get drinks and a little ambience at Gooski's or the Rock Room - it's a VERY safe ride up Smallman St, then right on 28th up and over into Polish Hill.
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Old 09-16-21, 06:53 PM
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David.MPB, just be aware that the Capitol Limited is frequently late, from what I recall from other threads here. Others might be able to chime in on that.
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Old 09-16-21, 07:06 PM
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If traffic is your concern, downtown PGH is pretty empty at night.

And yes, the Capitol is often late.
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Old 09-17-21, 08:40 AM
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I've taken the Capitol Ltd a few times from Cumberland to Pittsburgh, and it's been late each time. Once really late (like 1:30 am into PGH). So check for updates frequently. I think AMTRAK has an automated text notification thing you could sign up for.

AMTRAK doesn't own the lines, and is at the mercy of the freight trains that use the lines (I think CSX handles dispatch). So they get low priority, unfortunately.
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Old 09-17-21, 06:41 PM
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CSXT does own that line. Amtrak is not without recourse though. Several years ago it instituted an action against CSXT and some other host railroads about delays. I never followed the matter, so I donít know what became of it, but I believe the Capitol on-time performance has improved. At one point it was pretty dismal. One thing that had probably helped more recently is CSXT adopting ďprecision scheduled railroading. Fewer (but longer) trains.
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Old 09-20-21, 10:13 PM
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Wow, was I confused. I was thinking about that midnight train to Georgia
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Old 09-29-21, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by MarcusT View Post
Wow, was I confused. I was thinking about that midnight train to Georgia
I hope I donít get that confused. 😬
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Old 09-29-21, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by ericoseveins View Post
First of all, I wouldn't be too worried - downtown Pittsburgh at night is pretty benign compared to anywhere in Chicago. But you could probably just walk to any of the hotels around the Convention Center, explain your needs to the concierge, and then sit in the lobby for as long as you need. You could probably also walk to the Primanti's a few blocks away and have a few drinks. If you're willing to bike for 10 minutes, you could get drinks and a little ambience at Gooski's or the Rock Room - it's a VERY safe ride up Smallman St, then right on 28th up and over into Polish Hill.
thankyou. Iím feeling a bit more comfortable with that area. I wish I drank(alcohol) the options are so much more.
though I do like to people watch and Iím sure thatíll be interesting enough to pass the rime.

Last edited by David.MPB; 09-29-21 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 09-29-21, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Altair 4 View Post
David.MPB, just be aware that the Capitol Limited is frequently late, from what I recall from other threads here. Others might be able to chime in on that.
I rather expected as much. Iím aware they donít own the lines and thatís often a cause.
Iím on the first leg now. It arrived in STL 40 mins early. Still managed to leave 20 mins late. Ugh.
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Old 09-29-21, 09:54 AM
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If you can, keep posting your updates real-time! When do you reach your starting point for the ride (presumably Washington DC)? When do you anticipate being in Pittsburgh?
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Old 09-29-21, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Altair 4 View Post
If you can, keep posting your updates real-time! When do you reach your starting point for the ride (presumably Washington DC)? When do you anticipate being in Pittsburgh?
sure. If thatís of interest to people I can do that.
milk be in DC tomorrow (Thur 30) at 1:05 or whenever Amtrak gets there.
from there Iím headed straight to mile 0. Minor sightseeing like the Lincoln memorial on the way.
A short ride day no doubt to a primitive campsite.
Pittsburgh is scheduled for Friday 8th.

I plan on posting frequently to Instagram @meplusbike should anyone prefer the picture format.
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Old 09-29-21, 01:33 PM
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Itís definitely obvious who owns the lines.
mom 13km outside of Chicago and weíve been sitting for 30mins.
1 freight trainÖ.. then another. So close.

even the conductor canít hide his frustration.
ďjust another day on the tracksĒ ď donít know how kind weíll be, could be 10 mins, could be 30minsĒ

itís ok though. I did have a 4 hour layover.

oh yeah. Bike is still upright.
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Old 09-29-21, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by David.MPB View Post
I hope I donít get that confused. 😬
Worse yet, taking the last train to Clarksville.
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Old 09-30-21, 11:39 AM
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Nearly 4 am. Leg 2. CHI > WAS.

Tips for train
  1. Donít sit closest to a door that goes to the food area. Itís constantly noisy. And the light is always on.
  2. Definitely shoot for a solo seat if you have a choice. Sleeping so close for so long next to someone who isnít close could be awkward.
  3. Consider leaving rear panniers on bike. It may take a little persuasion but as I see my machine helplessly lilting between heavy bags Iím concerned for the derailleur.
  4. Accept that these trains have been around for a while. Germaphobes need to seek alternative transportation.


While Amtrak will take your bike the literature needs some clarification and ďwalk on serviceĒ means you hand it to the guy in the baggage car. He then balances it between the bags. Letís not forget the reason those bags are there is because they are oversized and over 50 lbs. You can ask to stand it against a wall on one side but itís his call.

ďRemove all bags and lock your bikeĒ. Um, thatíll practically guarantee mishandling if at your destination the handler cannot wheel your machine easily.



Mileage will vary pending finding an employee that gives a crap.



Amtrak, at least the Texas Eagle and Capitol Limited, have a lot to learn about cyclists needs. The luggage cars are plenty big but lack management and organization. Even for the bags - thrown on top of each other. Why no self service rack system or any rack system that secures an exposed machine upright and away from luggage?

Boxes are not the answer for those with connections.



Must. Sleep. Now.





Itís now 7:30am. Just left PGH and McKeesport.

Canít post a pic cos Iím too new. Letting this message run cos Iím only allowed 5 post in 24hrs.



I happened to go check on the bike in the luggage area. Bags have shifted and new bags loaded. One in particular is against my derailleur. Then I notice another bike which has been loaded in upright racks (hooks) exactly where the handler refused to put my bike in CHI.



Iím pissed and anxious.



I found a conductor (an assistant I presume as he identified himself as ďone of themĒ when I asked if he was the conductor) and asked if it could be moved. To his credit and despite the fact that we were now underway he attended to it immediately.

Of course that must have set off alarms when he opened the door as the senior conductor was quickly on the scene getting very defensive about procedure.

Later at Cumberland I observed the senior conductor on the platform allowing 2 cyclists to load their own bikes next to mine.
2 additional bikes have also joined the party. One laying down in free space and the other taking my original spot (though it still has rear panniers on so may be afforded a little more protection. )

I guess it comes down to the station and staff. Big city vs. small town.

oh yeah weíre 2 hrs late already. Sorry Lincoln.
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Old 09-30-21, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by David.MPB View Post
While Amtrak will take your bike the literature needs some clarification and ďwalk on serviceĒ means you hand it to the guy in the baggage car. He then balances it between the bags. Letís not forget the reason those bags are there is because they are oversized and over 50 lbs. You can ask to stand it against a wall on one side but itís his call.
No. Carry-on (not walk on) service is when you bring your bike into the coach your self and store it in the designated area. Trainside checked service is then you had your bike to a crew member and he/she stores it in the baggage car.

Bring Your Bike Onboard the Train | Amtrak

And bike accommodations in a baggage car can vary. I took the Pennsylvania from Philly to Pittsburgh last year. That route has Trainside checked service. The bike was hung from a special rack by its rear wheel. it was not balanced between luggage.

Here is my bike on the Vermonter route a couple of weeks ago. It has Carry-on service. I stored it myself.



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Old 10-01-21, 04:10 PM
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Day1 was a complete fiasco and lesson in lack of planning



After getting out of Union Station it was a bit difficult to get bearings. I never planned a sightseeing tour but rather the only thing I did want to visit was the Lincoln memorial.

Heading that direction I spied the capitol building. Went closer spoke to a cop for a few minutes. Front area is section off for repairs.

The I proceeded down the mall which was in the process of two things. Setup for Washington university ceremony and a truck show. Like big rig trucks.

Kinda took away the ďimpressive ď factor. Spoke to some people.


Anyway I saw that the Jefferson memorial was close by (ish) so off I went. Nope, a lot of repairs and construction too. On to the Lincoln. That was still impressive so a few pic s there.

I figured the whitehouse deserves a view. No it doesnít. I was so far behind and dehydrated. After the whitehouse I went to find mile zero amongst much traffic.

By the time I got to mile zero I had maybe an hour and half to get to camp. If I knew the way. And if there were no people. By this time I was done with the noise and was quite stressed.

There are no water sources in the early parts of the trail as best I could tell. Why didnít I get something in DC? Well thatís the lack of planning lesson and perhaps a little panic.

I found a gas station between locks 7 and 8 but didnít like the route to get to it.

By the time I got the water google maps was getting really confused stressing me out more.

I ended up super high on the hr monitor and bolted for the first campsite I knew about. Marsden Tract?

Anyway it was pitch black on arrival. I saw it was a paid site. National Park service. $40!!

Well that didnít sit well but I attempted to make a booking but the site would not allow selection of checkout day.

I was was so tired I didnít care. Things were dropping from trees.

Retired by 8:30 and slept well although fearful some ranger would roust me next morning.

I woke at 5:30 just so I could get out of there. Still in the dark but awesome to see the fog lifting.



So now weíre in day 2 and I realize if I had gone another four miles in the dark I would have missed the great falls overlook. So yay me.

Another plus. Because I was bit paranoid about being somewhere I shouldnít (didnít pre pay) I learned I could completely pack and leave in 45 mins. Without particularly rushing but just paying attention to what I unpacked the night before.

Thatís a target time I will now be challenged to reduce.



Spent today on an absolutely gorgeous ride. The weather perfect. Scenery perfect. People interesting and I documented all the campsites along the way.

Tonight I rest easier at Bald Eagle island campsite. With just a few train for company. I donít care about them right nowÖ..
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Old 10-02-21, 06:26 AM
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The relatively short days this time of year sucks. I much prefer a place like northwest Montana starting in mid-June, where it gets light early and stays light late. I donít have to rush to cook dinner before it gets dark.

And yes, acorns are falling from trees this time of year. I had to dodge many on roads and trails during my recent trip.

BTWÖMy friend took her bike on Amtrakís Northeast Regional service yesterday. Redcap helped her hang it.



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