Author Topic: Riding Amtrak from Washington DC to Cumberland MD  (Read 4834 times)

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Offline mochatae

Riding Amtrak from Washington DC to Cumberland MD
« on: December 23, 2015, 10:33:04 pm »
We will be riding the C & O Towpath in May and wish to use the Capitol Limited to return to our vehicle.  Since, we are fully contained we will each have 4 panniers, 1 handlebar bag, plus tent and poles (we split the last item).  Has anyone used this service with this much gear?  We are psyched that we are able to ride the train with our bikes, but have concerns about the amount of "luggage" we have.

Offline BrianW

Re: Riding Amtrak from Washington DC to Cumberland MD
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2015, 09:41:16 pm »
I've biked the C&O and the GAP self-contained (two separate trips). Can't help you on the train part, but I will suggest that you consider seeing if you can make do with just rear panniers and bar bag. When I ride the C&O first I used four panniers, bar bag, etc. For my GAP ride just used rear panniers and bar bag, and found I didn't really need the extra space of front panniers. Especially on the GAP there are plenty of resupply opportunities and you can make do just fine with less space IMO.

For the train, get a thin, light and cheap duffle that will fit your gear inside and your panniers (flattened if possible). Conductors are more likely to notice someone juggling a pile of panniers and sundry gear than a person with one bag, even if it's on the large size.

At the end of my C&O trip in Washington, I packed my S&S bike in a backpack case, along with most of my gear. I wore the (very heavy) bike and gear backpack case on my back and carried my handlebar bag over my shoulder. Nobody looked twice at me, even though the S&S case was fairly large.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Riding Amtrak from Washington DC to Cumberland MD
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2015, 09:04:32 am »
I have not ridden that line with bike and gear, but have taken trains and other public transportation quite a bit before.  I have taken a few approaches.

One was to strap the pairs of bags together to make 4 panniers into two items.  The clerk said it was fine, but this was on a different line and I have heard of others being told that it wasn't.

A safer bet is to buy a cheap duffle bag and cram everything in it.  Walmart has the "Protege 32" Expandable Rolling Duffel Bag" for $14.  I have used them a number of times for a flight home and all my gear usually fit, but if you need more space they have a smaller model that you can put the overflow in and take as a carry on.  I typically buy them in the city where I finish my tour, but other options are possible.  You could ship it to yourself via general delivery; or arrange for a bike shop, warm showers host, or motel you plan to stay at to accept it and hold it for you.  Once the bags start to get pretty beat up I use them to get to the start of a tour and throw them away.

If you must carry it on the bike with you they make big light bags for backpackers to carry large backpacks in.

Another option would be to find a cardboard box or boxes a suitable size and pack them up.  I have flown this way with no issues.


  • Guest
Re: Riding Amtrak from Washington DC to Cumberland MD
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2015, 01:51:04 pm »
Have you read this?:

The Capitol Limited offers what Amtrak calls "Walk-On Bicycle Service." As the web site explains:

"Loading and Securing Your Bike

"Passengers must be able to fully handle their bicycle in order to carry it on the train and stow in the rack. As such you must be able to lift your bicycle to shoulder height. Passengers are responsible for supplying their own cords and locking devices. All large seat/saddlebags, handlebar bags and panniers must be removed from your bicycle, consolidated and either checked or carried with you on to the train."

The advice in Bri's second paragraph is good advice.

Offline mochatae

Re: Riding Amtrak from Washington DC to Cumberland MD
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2016, 09:02:01 pm »
I figured out the answer to my question......There are storage racks above the seats, so panniers can be stored there.