Author Topic: How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?  (Read 12651 times)

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Offline Pedal Girl

How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?
« on: March 11, 2014, 11:08:56 am »
Hi all, we're flying in from the UK to DC in April to cycle the TransAm. We had planned to hire a car to get us to the start but, having checked, it looks like there is a $400 charge for dropping the car in a different location to pick up (! >:(). Trains and buses won't take bikes in the area so I was wondering if anyone had any ideas? One option I'm thinking about is starting the ride in DC instead of Yorktown and joining the TransAm in Richmond (we plan to stay with friends here). Does anyone know how far this is on the atlantic coast route? Also where would we dip our wheels?! (I've been looking forward to that!)

Thanks!

Offline John Nelson

Re: How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2014, 11:40:49 am »
This question comes up fairly frequently. A lot of people want to do exactly the same thing as you. Here are some links to get you started:

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/forum/board/message/?o=1&thread_id=161502
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/forum/board/message/?o=1&thread_id=452826
http://forums.adventurecycling.org/index.php?topic=3483.msg16620#msg16620
http://forums.adventurecycling.org/index.php?topic=7752.msg39866#msg39866

You'll see some references to taking Amtrak to Newport News, but I don't think that's an option unless you ship your bike directly to Newport News or Yorktown (because Newport News is not a luggage stop for Amtrak).

You'll also have to decide if you want to go to Yorktown, or if you'd be okay with joining the route near Richmond, which is about the middle of the second day for most riders starting from Yorktown. A small section of the Atlantic Coast Route can get you down to Richmond. For people who find it important to do the full route, they sometimes ride backwards from there to Yorktown before turning around.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2014, 04:35:17 pm »
Amtrak shows a station in Williamsburg, and one train a day from D.C. with checked baggage service.  It's an easy 10 mile ride from Williamsburg to Yorktown (and then you get to come back!).

You might check other rental car companies and check back periodically.  Charges are notoriously fickle -- what costs $400 today might be $150 next week.

Offline John Nelson

Re: How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2014, 05:45:06 pm »
I just checked Amtrak again. Today it shows that on certain trains, there is baggage service at Newport News. That might be new, as I seem to remember that Newport News previously had no baggage service. The fare is $37, plus $10 for the bicycle.

Offline mathieu

Re: How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2014, 07:43:46 pm »
In 2009 I rented a van at Dulles airport, big enough to hold a boxed bike, and rode it to a hotel in Williamsburg. The next morning I returned the car to Dulles, took a shuttle to DC and had time for sight-seeing  before the afternoon train to Williamsburg.
Travelling with a boxed bike on trains is almost impossible, especially if you have other luggage.
The car rentals were glad to hand me a big car at no extra cost, because the fuel bill was on the customer and petrol prices had just gone up considerably. The van was a wallflower at the time.

Offline staehpj1

Re: How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2014, 07:45:41 pm »
I have generally found that I avoid the surcharge if I book the car online and book it airport to airport.

Offline BobG

Re: How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2014, 06:45:36 am »
Does anyone know how far this is on the atlantic coast route?

It's 144 miles from Memorial Bridge at DC to TransAm junction at Ashland VA via Atlantic Coast Route and an additional 17 miles to Richmond.

The Northeast Regional train #67 from Washington's Union Station at 7:30 AM to Williamsburg arriving at 11:15 AM does include checked baggage service for your bike at both locations. Train #95 at 2:30 PM does not. You could also board #67 at Alexandria, VA at 7:49 AM.

The schedule for Williamsburg station does not include the icon for baggage but if you click on station info you'll see that the morning train indeed has this service.  A phone call to Amtrak also confirms this.

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=am/am2Station/Station_Page&code=WBG#

http://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/358/78/Northeast-Regional-3-Schedule-030314.pdf
« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 09:18:00 am by BobG »

Offline BobG

Re: How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2014, 08:16:32 am »
Travelling with a boxed bike on trains is almost impossible, especially if you have other luggage.

If you ride all the way to the ticket counter, get the huge Amtrak box, pack it and check it, it's really easy. Re-assemble at the destination station and start your ride right from there. Yes, if you have to move your bike around from station to station still boxed it's a nuisance that may require a cart or assistance

Offline DanE

Re: How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2014, 07:05:16 pm »
I think you could just start your Trans-Am in DC and bypass Yorktown. Why would a UK citizen want to ride to the place where the British were defeated. In DC you can at least celebrate the burning of the White House by the Brits in the War of 1812. You could use US Bike Route 1 to ride from DC to Ashland, VA were in intersects the Trans-Am and then on into Richmond to meet your friends. Take a look at the Virginia State bicycle map. When I was last in the area Bike Route 1 was signed and easy to follow, but that has been a while. I think you would be in Richmond on your second night no matter where you started and save yourself a bunch of hassle by starting in DC.

http://www.virginiadot.org/bikemap/

Yorktown really isn't on the actual coast, you would have to travel a bit for the ocean and wheel dipping ceremonies unless you use the York River. If you use the river you could just use the Potomac River in DC.

Offline BrianW

Re: How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2014, 09:07:31 am »
Where and when are you checking for your car rental? I just did a quick search on Hertz for a one-way rental from IAD/Dulles to Williamsburg (April 4-5), and it was $200 total for a 24-hour rental, one-way. And that's without any "coupons" or discount codes applied. That's not too bad.

Were you looking from Dulles or another airport?

Offline staehpj1

Re: How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2014, 09:38:01 am »
Where and when are you checking for your car rental? I just did a quick search on Hertz for a one-way rental from IAD/Dulles to Williamsburg (April 4-5), and it was $200 total for a 24-hour rental, one-way. And that's without any "coupons" or discount codes applied. That's not too bad.

Were you looking from Dulles or another airport?

I have found that if I walk up to the counter and try to book a car one way it doesn't go well.  Similarly if I call a particular location it is generally a problem.  They seem to always either have no cars that they can let go one way or have a big surcharge.

If I go online and book I have never had a problem.  I have typically just used the search on Southwest airlines web page to find prices.  I also typically have gone airport to airport and suspect that helps avoid fees, I am not sure about that though.  I have done this a lot and never had a problem getting slapped with a one way fee.  On the other hand I have almost always had a problem when walking up to the counter or calling.

There are lots of advantages to using a car.  You can go when you want.  With other methods you can miss your bus, train, or whatever.  With a car you can stop to eat or to see an attraction along the way.  You don't have your bike jammed in a baggage compartment by a stranger who doesn't care about your bike.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2014, 09:46:19 am »
I have found that if I walk up to the counter and try to book a car one way it doesn't go well.  Similarly if I call a particular location it is generally a problem.  They seem to always either have no cars that they can let go one way or have a big surcharge.

Funny story about rental cars: A friend was flying back home, and his flight to Atlanta was delayed so much he missed the last connector.  He went out to the rental car counter about 11:00 pm and tried to rent a car one-way, about 200 miles; nothing was available.  So he went back into the terminal, called the national reservation office, and there was a $250 surcharge for one way rental that day.  He asked if there was a car available for tomorrow (starting about 40 minutes from then), and wouldn't you  know, it was a lot cheaper.  Finally he went back out to the rental counter and asked if he could pick up his reservation early; no problem.  He made it home for $80.

Offline sdotkling

Re: How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2014, 10:59:19 pm »
Even funnier: I tried renting a car at a walk-up counter at the airport. Got a quote of a gazillion dollars (well, over $100/day.) Sat down on a bench in the area and logged into the same rental company's website with my iPhone, made a reservation for 15 minutes hence, walked back up to the counter and got the same car for $32/day.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Offline PeteJack

Re: How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2014, 01:08:43 pm »
We rode down the Atlantic Coast route to joint the Transam in Mineral Virginia.On the way we stayed overnight in Fredricksburg, site of three civil war battles. If you're lucky you get to crash at the fire house in Mineral and learn about Volunteer Fire Departments in the US, an important institution little known in the UK. In small towns VFDs rule. If you need to know where to camp e.g. go to the VFD. They'll often let you stay in their firehouse or right next to it. Since I was there they've had an earthquake in Mineral, very rare on the E coast.

Offline mathieu

Re: How to get from Washington DC to Yorktown, VA?
« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2014, 03:10:57 pm »
I agree that Yorktown isn't much, but I would not skip Williamsburg! Remember that the TransAm was previously called the Bicentennial Trail. There is no other town along the route that highlights the era of Independance as strong as Colonial Williamsburg. You might call some of the performances  Disney-history or even kitsch, but the total  is unique and very American. After Williamsburg, Richmond is nice and Mineral is entirely forgettable.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2014, 04:23:55 pm by mathieu »