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Thread: Train ride ride back

  1. #1

    Train ride ride back

    Has anyone done this before?

    I would like to ship my bike and ride a train to the west coast this summer. It would take only two or two and one half days to get there. We could see the scenery during the day and sleep at night while the train was still heading us to our destination. Once there, we could flower sniff our way back home on the bikes. Sounds like it could be some fun.

    Anybody done this or have any suggestions? Amtrak will send people, but I don't know about the bikes.

    Thanks, Terry

  2. #2
    welcome to the forums. i've got no information for you, but this is a very interesting topic! if you learn things outside the forum, please keep updating this thread, it will help future members!

  3. #3
    The only Vehicle train I'm aware of is the car train going from Lorton, VA to somewhere in Florida, run by Amtrack.

    If there's more out there, I'd love to hear about it :=)

  4. #4
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Fly Over Land
    I looked into this some time back and Belg is correct the Auto Train between Lorton, VA and Sanford, FL is the only route that offers the service, but not to sidecar rigs. You can not ship it on Amtrak either. Their commercial limit is a package of 100 lbs. After talking about bikes with the person on the phone trying to figure a work around we came up with the Amtrak casket service. Station to station if I could get it inside a casket. We had a good laugh and that was that.

    There is a shipping thread going, check that and train yourself out.

  5. #5
    I wonder if Union Pacfic or Burlington or someone has reasonable rates to toss one in a boxcar or a flatbed?

  6. #6
    On the Blue Roads RevWillie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Hillsborough, NC

    Unhappy Been there, done that.....ain't gonna happen again soon

    Quote Originally Posted by GSADVENTURE
    Has anyone done this before?
    Yes, this has been done before and I have a fair amount of knowledge about trains and Beemers. I was the Chief Conductor of the 2001 Rally Train from Washington DC, thru Chicago, to Portland,OR and back for the Redmond National Rally. It was my bright idea and I ran with it--until I ran into the amorphus reality of AMTRAK Inc.

    Short story:It took over 7 months to get the whole thing rolling, which was interesting since they were already running Harleys from Florida to Laconia and were already planning a NY-Sturgis run when we approached them. Anyway, we still had to "re-invent the wheel" with AMTRAK about shipping our bikes along with ourselves! Thanks to Gray Buckley (Rally Chair and organizational wizard), Charlie St. Clair (the boss @ Laconia and the person already running the Harleys on the train), and George Brown (Legal Representative and D.C. mole) in their many contributions to the process. We had our train. Unfortunately, we did not have our riders. Many gave up during the planning and some never showed up. We ran with about 60 folks.

    The train ride was fun, we quickly learned that sleepers were not such a bad idea since it gave you a chance to sleep and get fed. The coach chairs and non-functional intercom system had some drawbacks, but they were cheaper which could fund your food/drink funds when we had a station stop and you could run off the train and locate some goodies. The scenery was outstanding out of the windows and riding the train was MUCH easier than riding across the country in July. The average mileage of the train folk while off the train in OR was around 1K--we had the energy to ride around without using it up in just getting there.

    Made it back OK ( I won't talk about the little confrontation in the Chicago Yards about leaving the freight cars that had our bikes...) The Portland and DC stations were full of great people doing a great job--the Chicago situation was not so positive. After we all rested up, we realized that the Rally Train was not a bad experience after all and we should try it again.

    When we asked about a 2002 RallyTrain, we were told that they no longer wanted to carry vehicles containing gasoline and did not see a way that they could "work us in". We tried again for the '03 and '04 rallies, no luck. They even shut down Charlie St. Clair and the Harley trains. RallyTrain veterans tried to get some of their legislators involved and we even had some of the major players try to negotiate with AMTRAK and nothing was changed. The only way to ride a train with your bike is on the Auto Train from Lorton MD to around St.Augustine FL. They will consider shipping a bike as freight somewhere else, but you would have to completely drain the bike and package it up real well for a rough ride without the owner riding along-not a appealing idea to me.

    The railroads (AMTRAK) could use the business and I think that a motorcycle/rail combination can work very well. I just wished that they would listen to us and try again.
    Onward, through the fog!

  7. #7
    I would think the best bet would be to ship the bikes and ride the train. With Federal, you'd need to ship early because AFAIK it takes about a week coast to coast. With Forward Air, the bike could be there waiting for you.

    Sounds like a great plan, I love rail travel. One thing I've learned is it's always best to travel TO your destination via rail. The return can sometimes just be LONG.

  8. #8
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Santa Cruz CA
    Quote Originally Posted by dlearl476
    One thing I've learned is it's always best to travel TO your destination via rail. The return can sometimes just be LONG.
    Might be, but training out or back is a YMMV. Last time out, we flew to New England, noodled around up into Quebec, and ended up training back Toronto-Vancouver, three days of yumminess. Didn't matter that the big ride was at the end.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R, now gone

  9. #9

    I worked for Amtrak for 26 years and can tell you there are no trains that you can put any vehicle on that goes to the west coast. They only train on which you could put a bike is Auto Train which runs between northern Virginia and central Florida.


  10. #10
    Registered User ALIENHITCHHIKER's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Asheville, NC
    Terry, Three summers ago I shipped my K100RT to San Francisco and then my wife and I flew out. I packed all of our riding gear on the bike. BMW of San Francisco held the bike for us for a couple of days in their fenced lot. We toured the northern coast and then rode back home to North Carolina.

    Excellent trip & we'll probably do a similar thing sometime in the future. It allowed us to do a leisurely cross country trip with limited time-off. The only trick was coordinating our arrival with the arrival of the bike.

    I like your idea for traveling out on a train - much more pleasant way to go & an experience in its own right.


  11. #11
    Thanks a lot guys.

    It's looking like the train ride out and some other way for the bike. The limit for the bike on a train is 500 pounds. That leaves a lot of touring bikes out. Even my GS. I'll let you know when it all shakes out.

    It seems like there might be a void for a business for hauling bikes accross country. Might give that some thought too.

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