Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ride 160 Miles and Earn a New Bike: the Montague Navigator and the Burley Travoy

My plan is to ride my bike more this year, to use the bike as both a commuting and a recreational vehicle.

It galled me to think that I had to throw that resolution out the door in order to visit my parents and brother who live in California 2,000 miles away. My solution is the title of this post, "Ride 160 Miles and Earn a New Bike.

I'll present the plan, but first let me introduce the bike, a Montague Navigator folding bike.

Montague became famous in the bike world by making military folding bikes for paratroopers. They still make their Paratrooper model, but I chose a more standard bike because it has some features that fit my needs better.

For the Christmas season, my wife and I bought a commuter bike trailer, the Burley Travoy, that we plan to use for weekend camping.

Here are the events in the order that led me to buying my "160-mile bike."
  1. I buy the Travoy and begin researching on the net and on Google maps local touring routes.
  2. I research folding bikes, thinking to the future, but only find bikes in the $2,500 range until I discover Montague bikes.
  3. I discover a bike route planned by the Central California Cycling organization from Sacramento to Chico, California. The route passes through Oroville, where my parents live, and the route passes right by Sacramento International Airport.
  4. It appears the airlines will accept the folded bike as an extra, checked bag, but I worried about the soft bag ($100 and a smashed bicycle) and the price of the hard case ($400-500 and a smashed bank account).
  5. Then I thought about Roseville, a town close to Sacramento that is an Amtrak junction. I could travel from Fairfield to Roseville and ride my bike to Oroville. Two days of riding, stopping halfway in Marysville, and staying at my parents' place, and the bike is about half paid for in one trip.
  6. Amtrak ticket, $400; lodging (4 nights, 2 each way), $400 max; trip food, $100 = $900. Since we usually plan between $1,500 and $2,000 for the trip (plane, motel, car), I've just paid for a big hunk of the bike in one trip. Cool.
It looks like over-60 adventure cycling, but 40 miles of riding a day is definitely an attainable goal. The land is essentially flat, and I'll be commuting and riding weekends all spring. I usually stay in a motel to allow my elderly parents to keep their routine, but I'll pitch my tent in their carport so I can slip outside when they need a rest.

Amtrak allows for two carry-on bags. "Each passenger can have a total of 2 carry-on bags, each not to exceed 50 lbs. (23 kg), 28 x 22 x 14 inches (700 x 550 x 350 millimeters)."

It also states the following, regarding bicycles: "Folding bicycles under the dimensions of 34" x 15" x 48"/860 x 380 x 1120 mm will be allowed onboard all trains in lieu of a piece of baggage. They must be considered a true folding bicycle."

The Burley Travoy bag, packed with extra traveling items, measures 22" x 18" x 9", within the carry-on luggage strictures. The Montague Navigator, folded and bagged, measures 36" x 28" x 12", which meets the folding bicycle requirements for Amtrak.

Thus, I can carry on these two items, along with an under-the-seat bag with food and a book, and travel green this summer . . . and pay for my bike along the way.

I even found a route from Fairfield to Ottumwa (the eastern junction with Amtrak for me). There are even more possibilities--maybe I'll ride the bike from Ottumwa to Fairfield on the return journey if the train arrives on time at 9:00 A.M. I'll get a ride to Ottumwa when I begin the adventure, though. Two days on a train after having ridden a bike on a mid-June day for around three hours--the conductor would probably kick me off the train for bad hygiene. Can't have that!

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