John Neller - Boeing Employees Bicycle Club
June 8-11 from Portland to Eugene
Credit Card Tour
Space available for 2 riders from TWBC
If interested please continue reading.
Hello, my name is John Neller, and I am a member of the Boeing Employees Bicycle Club, living in Auburn WA. In addition to being a cyclist, I am also an enthusiastic train rider, and a member of Rail Passengers of America (RPA), a rail advocacy organization. As such I have often combined bicycle rides with trains, both in the US and abroad. I have found this to be a good combination of modes of transportation, allowing me to extend bike trips without having to ‘double back’, and to visit locations that would otherwise be too far apart to incorporate in a single bike trip.
Too often, the public, including cyclists, overlooks rail travel, and I would like to encourage cyclists to take advantage of the opportunity of using trains, and also to encourage rail operators to see cyclists as customers. The Amtrak Cascades trains, which provide service from Eugene Oregon to Vancouver BC, include racks for ten bicycles in their baggage cars. Other trains, such as the Coast Starlight (Seattle to Los Angeles) and the Empire Builder (Seattle to Chicago) also now carry unboxed bicycles.
Some years ago I regularly took my bike on the trains from Seattle to Bellingham and then biked to Vancouver BC over two days, after which I returned to Seattle via the train. I have also led this ride with the Boeing Employees Bicycle Club and other friends. More recently I have developed a ride from Portland OR to Eugene, with a return by train to Portland. I have done this ride both by myself and with the Boeing club. I have been thinking about ‘spreading the word’ about such travel by organizing a ride and inviting the major clubs along the Amtrak Cascades corridor to participate with two riders from each club.
This ride will take place over four days: June 8, 9, 10, and 11. It will start near downtown Portland and follow the Willamette River valley. There will be overnight stays in Salem, Albany, and Eugene. Parts of the route will use the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. The pace will be ‘social’, a category used by many clubs. The route will use trails, bike lanes, shoulders, and mostly lower-traffic roads. The total distance is about 178 miles. There are a couple hills on the first day and one on the second day. The fourth day, riding around Springfield and Eugene, mostly on trails along the river, is optional – we will be returning on the afternoon train to Portland. There are no costs other than lodging, food, and the train fares.
I am making arrangements with Amtrak to allow more than ten unboxed bicycles on the train from Eugene to Portland. Nevertheless, the number of bikes is limited, so I am inviting each club to send two members, and I must rely on the clubs to pick the members. Let me stress that the train is an integral part of this ride; if people do not want to return to Portland on the train this ride is not for them. If this ride is successful other groups can lead their own rides.
The first day will start from the Motel 6 at 518 NE Holladay St in Portland (phone 503-234-4391) at 9:00 AM and take several trails to Oregon City. From there we’ll ascend the hill over the downtown area and then use some back roads to reach South End Road, which is a known bicycle route to Canby. This is probably the biggest hill on the ride. The nastiest part of the route starts at the intersection of South End Road and Highway 99E; the first half or three-quarters of a mile is on a four lane road with almost no shoulders Some of the rest of the day is along Highway 99E, with good shoulders most of the way. The end of the first day is at the Motel 6 in Salem. The address is 1401 Hawthorne Ave NE and the phone number is 503-371-8024. The distance is about 55 – 60 miles.
The second day is from Salem to Albany, mostly following the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. At the top of Scravell Hill, we go west into northwest Albany. The stop is at the Motel 6. The address is 2735 Pacific Blvd SE and the phone number is 541-926-4233. The distance is about 50 miles.
The third day is from Albany to Eugene, again using the Scenic Bikeway, this time as far as the small town of Peoria. From Peoria we ride through Harrisburg and Junction City, then take back roads into the northern outskirts of Eugene, where we catch the trail along the river. The motel stop is the Downtown Inn. The address is 361 W Seventh St and the phone number is 800-648-4366.
The distance is about 55 – 60 miles.
The fourth day is a ride round Springfield and Eugene, using the trails on both sides of the river. The distance is about 25 miles. The ride this day is optional. We return to Portland on the afternoon train. The train number is 508, and it leaves at 4:30 PM and arrives in Portland at 7:05 PM.
Rather than have people make individual reservations, Amtrak prefers that we go through the Group Sales office. They told me that they had made similar arrangements for other groups, including bicycle groups. I will be the contact between the cyclists and Amtrak. (this exposes John to some financial risk if you decide to cancel, don’t leave him holding the bag for your prepaid train fare. twbc)
Traveling to Portland and returning home.
By Train: You can find schedules for the Amtrak Cascades trains by going to www.amtrak.com on the internet. When you look at the schedule you must note that it also includes some buses. I recommend Amtrak Cascades over The Coast Starlight Train
The Coast Starlight Train, runs between Seattle and Los Angeles. Because it has a much longer route, it is more prone to delays, especially when coming from California. It also has different storage facilities for bikes, with which I am not familiar.
There are several ways to make reservations. You can buy tickets at staffed Amtrak stations, or you make reservations on-line at www.amtrak.com. You can also make reservations over the phone by calling 800-872-7245. You will hear an automated voice named Julie; you should say ‘agent’. Julie will then suggest that she can answer some questions, but you should say ‘agent’ again, and you will be connected to an agent.
If you are driving to Portland, there is Station Place Parking Garage near Union Station at the corner of NW Marshall St and NW Station Way. The phone numbers are 503-221-1660 and 503-227-3875. The ride will begin at 9:00 AM, so I suggest parking cars the evening before.
In the near future I will send a more detailed description of the route. Please contact me with any questions or concerns.