Just riding the rails!! I have not been on a passenger train since I was a kid, some 45-50 years ago. I was excited to give Amtrak's roll on service for bikes a try. The roll on bike service is offered on the route I needed, Washington DC to Chicago with a stop in Pittsburgh, PA, my destination.
To pick it up from my last entry I negotiated the ten blocks or so from the mall to Union Station. It was city riding but this area looked to be mostly government offices and since it was Sunday afternoon not all that busy. Union Station in DC is a remarkable beautiful building. I rolled into the station and it literally took my breath away. Soaring and majestic with the gold leaf on the roof. I regret that I took no photos. I was a bit apprehensive about the task in front of me to get myself and bike on to the train I focused on that instead of soaking up the experience. I left myself time but I also did not have extra time to burn. It all felt a bit weird folks, rolling a loaded bike right through the station and up to the check-in desk. The lady behind the counter was very helpful and explained the process. I was ready to pack my Panniers, tent, and sleeping bag in a separate bag. That got checked as a bag and then I rolled my bike through the line to get out to the trains and down to the baggage car. They have a small room set up for bikes. They go on a rack that has the front wheel up against the wall and then standing the bike up, there is a support arm with velcro strap to secure it all. Good design. They have room for seven bikes so if you want to use this service make your reservations early. It was a $20 fee over the price of the ticket. You load it yourself so it makes for a good feeling that your bike is OK and taken care of.
So here I am with my first Amtrak travel experience and I have to tell you folks, this is a superior way to travel!! It was such a contrast to being wedged into a tiny seat with no legroom, the airline experience that I just had getting from Denver to DC. You get a nice wide seat with all the legroom a 6'4" guy can want. Reclines back and you are not invading the person behind you space, plus a foot rest. There are outlets to plug in your computer and charge your devices. You can bring your own blanket and pillows. Basically anything to pass the time. When you get tired of your seat you can wander up to the club/snack/observation car and get a beer and snack and sit and watch the world go by and socialize with other people there on the train. I did not go to the dining car for a meal, but it is there when needed. I guess the only disadvantage is the time factor. You have to not be concerned about the time it takes with delays on the routes due to freight trains having priority. Seriously people, I could skip the whole airport, airlines, TSA hassles to travel on a train with my bike!
Enjoying a Pennsylvania Beer on the train!!
Here is the Point and the start of the GAP or Great Allegheny Passage Rail Trail.
Got this picture of the Pittsburgh Paint and Glass Corporation, we sell PPG paint in our Lumberyard.
They have built these nice table benches to take breaks on for the well maintained trail. Smooth and wide and a gentle upward grade. The upward grade will continue for me the next two days until I reach the Eastern Continental Divide.
Thanks for reading along!!