Originally Posted by Yellowjacket
I highly recommend the Autotrain. I took the train to save some time. I wanted to do the longest ride I had to date and plan for an overnight return trip and get home on a Sunday to work the next day.
I hope you try it. The GT and you will be very happy. I rode my Victory Vision (aka USS Tupperware) down from DC to Florida last Christmas and took the Autotrain back up. Buy the tickets a few weeks in advance to save quite a bit of money.
To load my bike, I rode the bike up a small ramp onto a dolly/trailer albeit one with a channel in the middle. The wheels fit nicely into the channel while my feet were firmly planted on the flooring. The loader guy tied down the bike. This palette can take two bikes. An ATV tows the palette that is on wheels to the train cars and specifically into the minivan,/SUV/motorcycle car. The latter get unloaded first. Since it was 25 degrees in Lorton, VA, there was an announcement for the brave motorcycle owner to come forward to claim the bike which is unloaded quickly to the side so I did not have to wait in the long line of cars. The train cars are split up for the loading/unloading and there is some time that is needed to chain/unchain them together. I recommend checking in on time in Lorton due to crowded waiting area while arriving and loading as early as Amtrak allows (1pm or 2pm) in Sanford so you can take the free shuttle to the old town Sanford. There is a great German restaurant called Willow Tree Cafe. Eat and drink well and take the last shuttle back to get on the train.
The price included a seat, dinner and breakfast (with 2 seatings each meal), and the bike. We left Sanford, FL, at 4p.m. and got into Lorton, VA ~ 10a.m. The train stops briefly at Florence, SC to change crews. The arrival time can vary as the railroad is owned by the freight company and the freight trains take priority. Bring earplugs as some parents do not keep their children in line. I found the seat a bit hard for the long duration. I spent quite a bit of time in the entertainment/snack car next to the dining car to pass time and get tired enough to sleep.
Thanks for the info! There was a nice article in a recent AMA magazine as well, and the pictures there showed some sort of front wheel lock apparatus being used (which I kind of see in one of your pics). A little concerned about that, but I think the KGT front wheel/disc arrangement is all pretty standard dimensions, so will probably fit no problem.
I was a little more concerned about the tying-down. For example, if they use a handlebar tie-down, that is probably a no-no on a GT because of the relatively weak bars.
I'm sure it'll all work out if I do it, but first-hand experience is always a plus.
We were thinking of getting a little room, so it wouldn't be that cheap, it just more seemed like an interesting idea. Get a fresh start on the tour in new territory and kind of skip over the places you ride more frequently. Makes it a bit easier to venture further afield in a given amount of time.
Kind of like a fly-rent trip, but you get your own bike. Plus, I've never been on anything but short commuter-type train trips, so a longer trip is intriguing.
Of course, we'd be going the other way. Which also means we've eaten at the Willow tree before (a few times, actually)...
Must be nice when the weather is crappy in the NE. Take a cold ride to the station, get off at the end of the trip, and you are on your bike in (hopefully warm and sunny) Florida!
I imagine it gets quite a crowd in the bike week time frame... We are thinking of going up and riding to the Formula 1 race in Montreal (June timeframe). So, hopefully we'd be escaping from the miserably hot
weather down here!