Let’s be honest here: I’ve been a little reluctant to take my bike on any train that doesn’t have roll-on service — that is, a train where you can just show up with your bike, roll it up to the baggage car where there’s a hook waiting for it, and then pedal right away when you get to your destination. I’ve been a little intimidated by the logistics of having to deconstruct my bike to put it in a luggage box, which is still required for any long-distance Amtrak line.
But I have conquered the beast. And it’s so easy that I sort of can’t believe I’ve been avoiding it.
I showed up to Union Station in Portland yesterday — in the sunshine no less — and proceeded with my loaded bike to the baggage counter. Here’s how it works:
- You pay $25 for a bike box. Don’t be intimidated by previous bike boxes you may have used. These boxes are huge
- You take the pedals off your bike, put them in a bag, and tape them somewhere onto the frame (or, as I did, the rack)
- You loosen or remove the handlebars so that you can turn them sideways.
- You roll your bike into the box and tape it up. Done!
In Portland they even have tools you can borrow, so you don’t need to provide your own pedal wrench. I don’t know that every station would be so friendly, though, so it’s probably still a good idea to have your own.
You’re allowed 2 pieces of checked luggage for free, so in addition to the one for my bike I also bought another box for $5. That way I could put my various panniers and other bags into one box and turn 4 pieces of luggage into one.
And that’s it! Super easy. And then when you get to your destination, your boxes show up and you can simply reverse the process: put your pedals and handlebars back on, re-attach all your bags, and away you go!
The hardest part, for me at least, is sleeping on an overnight 16-hour train ride. Someday I will master the ability to sleep in weird places, and then I will be a much happier traveler:)
(though regardless of how much sleep I do or don’t get, it’s SO FRICKEN AWESOME to get to my destination and be able to ride off on my bike:)
So here I am, a little sleep-deprived, but ready for adventure! :)