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Cycle Tourist Needing A Ride Please - Kansas City to Denver! (with bike)

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Cycle Tourist Needing A Ride Please - Kansas City to Denver! (with bike)

Old 08-12-19, 12:22 PM
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capnjammer
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Cycle Tourist Needing A Ride Please - Kansas City to Denver! (with bike)

I'm a British cyclist touring from NYC to Anacortes, WA. Picked up a slight injury so took some extra time off in Kansas City and I'd like to make that time up, so I'm looking for a ride from here to Colorado, ideally Denver or Pueblo.

I'll be travelling with a bike and panniers, so you'll need some space or a rack, but not that much as it's only two bags on the rear! It would seem the Amtrak train from here to La Junta isn't currently taking bicycles, the train to Denver involves some long waits and takes over 24 hours, and one way car rental is incredibly expensive!

Any help very gratefully received - am happy to pitch in with gas and good conversation!

Many thanks,
James
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Old 08-12-19, 01:00 PM
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Maybe you could ride to somewhere with better connections in the direction you are heading. In other words, ride now and catch a train or bus later. You’d still arrive at your destination at the same time.
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Old 08-12-19, 01:11 PM
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greyhound will take bikes, but you need to box.
they may have boxes at the larger stations.
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Old 08-12-19, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by capnjammer View Post
I'm a British cyclist touring from NYC to Anacortes, WA. Picked up a slight injury so took some extra time off in Kansas City and I'd like to make that time up, so I'm looking for a ride from here to Colorado, ideally Denver or Pueblo.

I'll be travelling with a bike and panniers, so you'll need some space or a rack, but not that much as it's only two bags on the rear! It would seem the Amtrak train from here to La Junta isn't currently taking bicycles, the train to Denver involves some long waits and takes over 24 hours, and one way car rental is incredibly expensive!

Any help very gratefully received - am happy to pitch in with gas and good conversation!

Many thanks,
James
I believe you can take a bike on the Amtrak Southwest Chief (if room is available) for a $20 up-charge between Kansas City and Albuquerque.
This is not apparent on the schedule page.
I'm not talking about a checked bag. I'm talking about sitting with your bike in the same car.
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Old 08-12-19, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by boomhauer View Post
I believe you can take a bike on the Amtrak Southwest Chief (if room is available) for a $20 up-charge between Kansas City and Albuquerque.
This is not apparent on the schedule page.
I'm not talking about a checked bag. I'm talking about sitting with your bike in the same car.
Thanks Boomhauer - I've travelled with a bike on Amtrak before, with it sitting in the carriage with me like you say, but was able to book it online. Do you know if you can book your ticket to travel online and pay for the bike up-charge whilst on the train, or at the station?
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Old 08-12-19, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by capnjammer View Post
Thanks Boomhauer - I've travelled with a bike on Amtrak before, with it sitting in the carriage with me like you say, but was able to book it online. Do you know if you can book your ticket to travel online and pay for the bike up-charge whilst on the train, or at the station?
I just managed to get through to Amtrak on the phone - apparently they say that the car for cycles has not been added on to that train (though last time I used the train the bike just went in the wheelchair space on a normal car) so it doesn't look like I can travel unless I check it, in a box.
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Old 08-12-19, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by capnjammer View Post
Thanks Boomhauer - I've travelled with a bike on Amtrak before, with it sitting in the carriage with me like you say, but was able to book it online. Do you know if you can book your ticket to travel online and pay for the bike up-charge whilst on the train, or at the station?
go ahead and try to book the ticket on-line. That's when the adder for the bicycle pops up.
That's how I did it.
It isn't obvious at all if your particular train will have room for a bike or not until you go to buy a ticket on-line. After you select your fare the next window is for "adders" like dinner service or a bicycle.
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Old 08-12-19, 04:15 PM
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other options are to google craigslist kansas city and search under ride share for someone heading west that has room for you and your bike, or there is also using some white cardboard and writing the name of where you wish to go and try hitch hiking.
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Old 08-12-19, 04:40 PM
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I did the same thing back in the midish 90s in the States, California, had a slight injury and took time off for things to mend.
Caught a few rides hitchhiking to catch up with the gang that I had been riding with at the time. One of the rides made for an interesting experience with the slightly crazy eyed fellow with his little kid in the pickup at one point pulling out a big honking silver pistol from out under his seat and waved it around while talking about shooting cougars, and also his views of "the Gays" and how they should be shot....

always remember that one, and to a Canadian, a rather stereotypical encounter that reminded me even more of some differences between our two countries.

good luck with finding a workable solution.
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Old 08-12-19, 07:41 PM
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I did a quick experiment with Amtrak web site. I put in Kansas City to Albuquerque for Saturday, August 17th. On the first screen that has the fare ($120), there is also a symbol for the number of bicycle slots available, in this case the train has six slots that can be reserved @ $20 each.

If you try to go to La Junta, CO on the same train on the same day (but without baggage service), then there are no bicycle slots available...as shown in the second screen shot below.



Here is the same train but only going to La Junta


So I think you can get "there" with a bicycle on Amtrak on the Southwest Chief train, but need to pick your stops appropriately. Here is a link to the schedule for that line and you need to use stops with the little suitcases beside them - https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/p...ule-073118.pdf

Also note that the PDF schedule above says "Trains 3 and 4: trainside checked bicycle service offered between staffed locations handling checked baggage. Customers will check in with the station agent, get a claim check/baggage tag for their bike, and hand up to a crew member inside the baggage car."

Last edited by mev; 08-12-19 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 08-13-19, 07:03 AM
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I posted this answer over on the Adventure cycling board for the OP, but figured someone else here might also find it useful. This is regarding renting a car which I have found is often more cost effective and faster than Amtrak if you avoid a few pitfalls. Most often high prices and refusals for oneway rentals can be avoided. I was burned quite a few times before I figured out some of the ways to avoid that.

A couple hints that I have found useful.
  • Always book a rental online rather than walk up to a rental desk. Walk ups often yield a refusal to let a car go one way or a big one way drop off charge. NEVER just walk up to the rental desk and ask for a car especially for a one way rental! I have been burned almost every time I did that, either with a refusal ("sorry we have no cars we can let go out one way") or with a crazy high one way drop off fee.
  • Generally going airport to airport seems to help avoid one way drop off charges when booked ahead online. I tend to try to go airport to airport when possible.
  • Using an aggregator like expedia or whatever usually finds a decent price. It also seems help find a rate without a big drop off fee even if it isn't at an airport.
A quick check on Expedia showed lots of options starting at $120 for various cars with a drop off 24 hours after pick up. That was airport to airport Kansas City to Denver. It is a 626 mile drive so 24 hours should be plenty of time to get there.

The smaller cars you may need to do more disassembly to get the bike and gear in, but I have managed to get a touring bike and gear in some sub compact economy models. Some of the models at the lower end of the scale in my search results were a Jetta, Focus, Elantra, Mirage, or even a fullsize Malibu. My bikes and gear on all my trips would have easily fit in any of them even my early heavily loaded trips. You might need to take both wheels off and maybe drop or remove the seat post. Worst case if you got stuck with a tiny car maybe take the stem loose to get the bars out of the way, or remove pedals, but I'd be surprised if you needed to do that with any of those cars.

For $200-240 there were a few SUVs.
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Old 08-13-19, 09:48 AM
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as a Brit, one thing to take into consideration with driving is that if you are tired, the risks will be more for "going on instinct" for side of the road situations.
No clear answer here, but I do know that for some people, this could be a factor to make the train option work, just from not having to concentrate fully for a very long car drive.
Ive only driven a British car in France, which was weird, but at least I didnt have to think about which side of the road to be on.
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Old 08-16-19, 08:43 PM
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removed.

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Old 08-17-19, 09:21 AM
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I'd also recommend going to the local bike shops and asking there. They will probably be willing to help out a fellow cyclist, and you'll tap into a larger community in Kansas City that you might be able to otherwise. Basically everyone who works in the shop will be thinking about people they know and connections they have that might be able to help. That will spread the word locally much better than asking on a forum with people from all over the world.
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Old 08-17-19, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by capnjammer View Post
I'm a British cyclist touring from NYC to Anacortes, WA. Picked up a slight injury so took some extra time off in Kansas City and I'd like to make that time up, so I'm looking for a ride from here to Colorado, ideally Denver or Pueblo.

I'll be travelling with a bike and panniers, so you'll need some space or a rack, but not that much as it's only two bags on the rear! It would seem the Amtrak train from here to La Junta isn't currently taking bicycles, the train to Denver involves some long waits and takes over 24 hours, and one way car rental is incredibly expensive!

Any help very gratefully received - am happy to pitch in with gas and good conversation!

Many thanks,
James
The stories some people make up to avoid cycling through boringly flat and neverending Kansas... 😂🤣😂

But seriously, good luck mate. Hope you soon arrive safely in Colorado, the land of happy cabbage. 🌞🥬
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Old 08-17-19, 01:34 PM
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Why can’t you just box the bike in one of amtrak’s boxes they are huge, just remove pedals and turn handlebars. It can then be taken off at any station that has checked baggage. I have traveled this way twice it works well. I was able to buy a box at the Amtrak station in KC both times for 15 dollars, it then takes place of one of your checked bags.
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Old 08-18-19, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Baboo View Post
I was able to buy a box at the Amtrak station in KC both times for 15 dollars, it then takes place of one of your checked bags.
$15 bucks for a bike box? Really??

I never took a train with a bike, but plan to some more. Do you think that is pretty standard at most amtrack stations?
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Old 08-19-19, 02:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Baboo View Post
Why can’t you just box the bike in one of amtrak’s boxes they are huge, just remove pedals and turn handlebars. It can then be taken off at any station that has checked baggage. I have traveled this way twice it works well. I was able to buy a box at the Amtrak station in KC both times for 15 dollars, it then takes place of one of your checked bags.
I've done this too ... up the west coast of the USA.


Originally Posted by Bike Jedi View Post
$15 bucks for a bike box? Really??

I never took a train with a bike, but plan to some more. Do you think that is pretty standard at most amtrack stations?
Nope.

You'd have to check the station(s) you're interested in.

https://www.amtrak.com/onboard/bagga...ial-items.html

https://www.amtrak.com/bring-your-bicycle-onboard

"Bicycles/bicycle trailers may be checked in a bicycle container for $10, in lieu of a piece of baggage. Bicycle boxes are sold at most staffed locations for $15 per box. Customers may supply their own bicycle container."

Last edited by Machka; 08-19-19 at 03:12 AM.
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Old 08-19-19, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Baboo View Post
Why canít you just box the bike in one of amtrakís boxes they are huge, just remove pedals and turn handlebars. It can then be taken off at any station that has checked baggage. I have traveled this way twice it works well. I was able to buy a box at the Amtrak station in KC both times for 15 dollars, it then takes place of one of your checked bags.
One nice thing Amtrak has done is introduce curbside baggage service on many trains. So in addition to boxing your bike, you can also reserve a bike slot and when the train arrives walk your bike to the baggage car and hand it to an attendant. Both boxing bikes and curbside service require stations that have baggage service (except for a few trains like the Cascades).

While I used to box my bike, I now mostly use the curbside checkin. The issue the OP had with Lamar was that it didn't have baggage service - so neither boxing nor curbside would have worked. However, for KS to Albuquerque both would have worked.

I've got a short trip planned over Christmas using this method. I'll take my bike on the train to Tucson, bicycle to El Paso and then return with my bike on the El Paso train...
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Old 08-19-19, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Baboo View Post
Why can’t you just box the bike in one of amtrak’s boxes they are huge, just remove pedals and turn handlebars. It can then be taken off at any station that has checked baggage. I have traveled this way twice it works well. I was able to buy a box at the Amtrak station in KC both times for 15 dollars, it then takes place of one of your checked bags.
On many of the long distance trains (and some others) you no longer have to box the bike. New baggage cars came on line relatively recently. They have "racks" for bikes. The Vermonter has cubbies where you hang your bike yourself. The issue with those services is that there is a limited number of bikes that can be handled that way. Except for two routes, reservations are required. If the spaces are full, you have to box (assuming your train has checked baggage service between your stations).

Which trains offer unboxed bike services is explained here:

https://www.amtrak.com/bring-your-bicycle-onboard
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Old 08-19-19, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
So in addition to boxing your bike, you can also reserve a bike slot and when the train arrives walk your bike to the baggage car and hand it to an attendant.
There is also carry-on service, where you bring your own bike on yourself and put it in the designated area. I have twice taken my bike on the Vermonter that way. It has three cubbies/train. You hang the bike by the rear wheel. My LHT is large, so I have to remove the front wheel before hanging. There are no seat across from the cubbies so there is plenty of room to do that without getting in the way of passengers. The biggest pain is getting it into the coach. The vestibules are not spacious enough to allow you to maneuver the bike with panniers attached. I removed them on the platform and put them in a sleeping bag mesh storage bag that I didn't have any need for and carried them on that way. You could also use a thick trash bag.
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Old 08-20-19, 05:27 AM
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Since it has been more than a week, I hope by now he has decided on a method of transport and done it and is riding. Would be nice if the OP chimed in with what happened. Tailwinds, John
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Old 08-20-19, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Baboo View Post
Why canít you just box the bike in one of amtrakís boxes they are huge, just remove pedals and turn handlebars. It can then be taken off at any station that has checked baggage. I have traveled this way twice it works well. I was able to buy a box at the Amtrak station in KC both times for 15 dollars, it then takes place of one of your checked bags.
Yeah, not a bad way to go if and only if all the stations where you board, change, or exit trains have baggage service. Amtrak is way more accommodating than most airlines. The boxes are huge so it is really easy to fit the bike in virtually not work at all. I have even had them give me a free box when there was a used one left behind by another rider that had not yet been disposed of.

On the other hand I have often found a rental car faster and cheaper depending on the situation. I sometimes felt kind of wasteful going the rental car route, but when it was cheaper, faster, and more convenient it was hard to resist. I like the idea of using the train and do so when it works for me, but have not too often found it makes sense for me.

Where they serve the route where I need them light rail services OTOH have been great and are often a slam dunk, cheap, fast, and convenient. Just not available enough places.

BTW, OP if you are reading how did you make out?
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Old 08-20-19, 09:19 AM
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Probably found a ride all the way to Anacortes and is sipping piŮa coladas by the pool right now.
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