The wonderful thing about traveling by train is that you don’t have to travel in an airplane. The full-body frisks. The cramped seats. The sense of your impending demise. It’s as if airline executives and TSA officials meet regularly to come up with new ways to make airline travel more uncomfortable. Bathrooms? Let’s get rid of them. If they don’t pee before boarding they’ll just have to hold it. That will also take care of the problems with smoking and humping.
Next to air travel, rail travel is a real treat. No security lines. No fear of hurtling toward a mountain in a death spiral. And most importantly, no hassles taking your bike on board. For $15, Amtrak will provide you a box the size of a walk-in closet, into which you can easily roll your bike. Amtrak even announced that they’ll be allowing bicycles on board without a box on all major routes in the near future.
Carrie escorted me to the train station in San Jose, where we rolled my bike into a cardboard closet and gave it up to the ticket agent, who informed us that the train would be delayed two hours. Engineers had been assessing the condition of the tracks after the recent earthquake in Napa. Since I’m writing this north of Napa, it’s safe to say that the engineers thought that the tracks weren’t impacted.
I boarded the train around 11:30pm and promptly fell asleep. I don’t think I’ve ever slept on a plane. Every bit of turbulence makes me nearly wet my pants. On a train however, the gentle rocking motion, which I admit feels exactly like air turbulence, lulls me to Slumberland.
At around 12:30am Peter boarded the train and the conductor found us a pair of seats together. We chatted for a bit until the train, once again, rocked us to sleep.
At 6:00am sharp the conductor’s voice blared through the train. He was inviting people to have breakfast in one of the various cars. For some reason bloody marys don’t sound as appetizing when someone is yelling at you to drink one. We serve screwdrivers, piledrivers, tequila shots. Drink one or we throw you off the train. If you weren’t an alcoholic when you boarded, you’ll be a convert by the time you stumble off.
Fast forward ten hours later and we arrived in Albany. The interior of the train had been kept at grocery store cold, so when we stepped off the train into 90-degree heat, it was a bit of a shock. We quickly assembled our bikes and then set off for Corvallis, where I needed to stop by a bike shop to buy some replacement cleats for my shoes. A piece of plastic had only recently broken off the Speedplay Zero cleat, making clipping in and out a bit dicey. This is what I get for using fancy gear on a bike tour. When in doubt go for the simple stuff. I normally use flat pedals and sneakers, which have proven to be perfectly reliable.
We made it to the bike shop just before it closed and then rolled to Peter’s cousin’s place to stay the night. Taryn provided homemade zucchini bread and pizza, which was fantastic. A good way to end the day and to start our adventure.