It’s been a busyish week here at the UAL HQ. Besides getting ready for the Three Speed Camping trip this weekend and preliminary Pedalpalooza preparations, a bunch of people passed through town!
First up is Elena, a twentysomething college student touring the US via Amtrak and bicycle this summer. She’s blogging over at Summer By Rail. Obviously you can’t do a bikes-on-the-train tour across the US without stopping in Portland! Last Wednesday, May 25 she came through and had a meet-and-greet at the Green Dragon. I managed to talk with Elena for a little bit.
One of the “big deals” of her tour is to test out the new bike hooks in most of the long-distance train baggage cars. Up until now, you have to box a bike to bring it onboard the long distance routes, and that’s only if both the origin and destination station had checked baggage service. With the hooks, not only do you have to go through the pain of boxing a bike, but you can get on and off anywhere where the train stops!*
This is a big deal for me because it will make my long distance bike-and-train journeys easier. For example, I take the train to Minneapolis-St Paul when I attend the Lake Pepin Three Speed Ride. But to get my bike to the start of the ride, Red Wing, is a logistical hurdle since it’s about 45 miles away. I’ve gotten a ride and have done the “casino bus” thing twice. But there’s an Amtrak station right in the heart of Red Wing! Until now, the only way I’d get off and on there with a bike is if I had a folding one, as Red Wing is an unstaffed station. But when this program goes into play, I can simply get on and off in Red Wing itself. Much easier!
After meeting up with Elena, I learned that Lael Wilcox is in town! Everyone’s favorite footloose bike tourer and long-distance racer is getting ready to depart on her next big adventure, the Trans Am Race, a cross-country race following the route of Adventure Cycling’s classic coast-to-coast adventure. The race starts from Astoria on Saturday (there’s also racers starting in the east that same day in Yorktown, VA). She’s hoping to make it to Yorktown in 17 days, with an average of 250 miles a day! Whew. I get exhausted even thinking about that pace!
Make sure you follow her adventures. Probably the best place to do that is through the tracking bit on the Trans Am website, or hopefully she’ll post on Instagram. Also, her bf Nick at Gypsy By Trade will probably have a play by play as well. So many options!
Anyways, it was great to finally meet the legend face to face. We scared up some breakfast at the Paradox Cafe on Thursday May 26th and talked about our plans for the summer. Mine are nowhere near as ambitious as hers! 😉
Then over the weekend Madi of Family Ride rode her bike down from Seattle, pulling two centuries with “Fat” Rob Anderson (and sans children.) A visit from Madi is always fun! I got to hang out with her on Monday, her last day before taking Amtrak home. Madi, Rob, and myself managed to get on The Sprocket Podcast, Portland’s favorite bike and transportation related podcast. So without knowing, I got dragged to the Spocket Podcast’s secret lair! The talk was mostly about their ride down, though I managed to mention Lake Pepin.
Okay! There should be some more visitors soon, as Pedalpalooza draws people out of the woodwork. And I hear that a particular Bike Club president will be in town in July…
*Certain short-distance lines already have this service, like the Cascades that runs north from Portland to Seattle and Vancouver BC or south to Eugene. But none of the long distance trains have had this option until the last year.