Big adventure, small wheels: Two cyclists plan tour utilizing folding bikes and Amtrak

| 3/31/2011 1:34:31 PM

Tags: Adventure Cycling Association, Path Less Pedaled, folding bicycles, Amtrak, bike tours, Russ Roca, Laura Crawford, Winona Bateman,

I love train travel: the rocking motion of the cars, moving at a more human pace than car or plane travel, the truly wonderful (and sometimes strange) characters that I meet, the space and time for creating connections and making memories.

The train delivered me to New York City for the very first time, and it reunited me with my family shortly after 9/11. On Amtrak I met a new artist friend who gave me the best advice I've ever received from a stranger...or from anyone for that matter. And years ago, during a one particularly beautiful spring, the train ferried me over crisp green prairies full of foxes and red wing blackbirds as I made my way to my father's funeral. Despite my deep sadness, I remember being so grateful to be traveling through the landscape that he loved -- and in a manner that let me take it all in as it was coming alive after a long winter.

In my memory, nearly every journey by train has been an incredible gift (even with the occasional, unexpected layovers!). From the multitude of stories that flow through my desk, I can definitely say most cyclists would say the same about bike travel!

I often fantasize about setting off on my first adventure around the world. I imagine updating my passport, loading up my touring bike, and perusing train (and ship) schedules to make it all the way around the globe without taking a plane, or hitching a lift by car. Learning about Russ Roca's and Laura Crawford's upcoming "big adventure on small wheels," I'm even more inspired about planning my tour of the globe.

Known for their popular touring site,, this spring Russ and Laura are embarking on their next big bike touring adventure, aided by Amtrak, but otherwise astride two Brompton folding bicycles. "It's a kind of modern twist on the great American road trip tradition," says Roca. "We feel that multi-modal vacations will become more popular in the coming years, and combining bicycles with train travel affords equal parts adventure and leisure."

I like the emphasis on leisure. With our mission to get people of all ages to travel by bicycle, we're always trying to think of ways to reach out beyond our core group of bike touring enthusiasts and get other cyclists (and aspiring cyclists) excited about bike travel. For some, mixing a bit of more leisurely adventuring into their plan (ahh...the dining car, a sleeper!) might make the long-distance cycling piece seem more do-able. 

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