AutoTrain (Moving my motorcycle to the city- finally)
May 8, 2014
If you've known me for a while, you know I enjoy motorcycling. Or rather, I have enjoyed motorcycling in years past. When I moved to the city almost 3 years ago now (yeesh time flies) I sold off most of my worldly possessions- car, furniture, television. What didn't fit into a couple of suitcases, I put into boxes and stored- except the largest, my motorcycle.
I did not sell my 2002 Honda Shadow Sabre 1100, I stored it at my father's house in Florida with the hope that he could at least start it up every so often, run it for a bit to keep it from rotting away. As with everything over time, every few weeks turned into every few months, and then every few months might turn into once a year. It had in fact gotten to the point where it hadn't been started in a year, where I was sitting at one of my favorite bars in the city and heard a few motorcycles start up across the street (this bar has windows, and I was sitting in front of them). The bug had bitten me again, and I made up my mind that night (consequently shortly after my birthday), that I would bring up my motorcycle or get one here-- somehow, some way.
I hemmed and hawed for about 30 minutes, but it was practically a done deal at this point. Friend/instigator, Dave, who has been there from the beginning of my motorcycle ownership of course was no help in talking me out of it. So with the support of my friends and bartender Sean, I began my research while enjoying a few cocktails.
Orlando>NYC is about 1100 miles, and I know from previous experience, even 400 miles (Orlando>Key West) was a bit much for my back on a single day. The Autotrain was the natural solution to shave 900 miles off the trip. I spent a couple days figuring out the complexities of insurance (Required in NYS, not in FL), tagging, street parking, garage parking, expenses. I also arranged to have my motorycle picked up and checked out by the shop in Florida. Shipping the motorcycle would've cost about the same as flying down and train-riding up, even with a couple nights of hotel if needed, so I booked it.
Fast forward about a 2 1/2 weeks. I had to push my northbound back trip a few days because of some colossal storm front moving through the country, making the last couple hundred miles of riding a miserable prospect. After flying to Orlando, I spent a few days making arrangements riding around Orlando to make sure everything was safe and that the wheels wouldn't fall off (also visiting colleagues/friends/family). I packed everything onto the back of of the bike (see post photo) and the next day I was on my way to the autotrain. It was 90degrees and 80% humidity, the short distance I had to travel that morning, I had already sweat pretty heavily and the prospect of 17+hrs on the train after that was not pleasant. Thankfully I purchased some babywipes and made myself a little more bearable (not the greatest shower, but was so happy to have it)
The train ride was uneventful aside from about 6hrs of delays and the lack of Wi-Fi. I think the "Lounge car" could be better designed itself and more conducive to a social atmosphere- From a design perspective it could be an interesting project, and perhaps could provide more incentive to travel longer distance via train. I was hoping for a place to socialize with strangers and bartender, like a bar. Instead, it was more of a cafeteria with microwave and table-style seating and airline style booze. Thankfully I slept through the delays and didn't have a firm schedule for my return so I was not terribly upset about the delays. The train had a certain demographic, largely older, so I enjoyed hearing about various peoples grandkids during meals, watched a movie, read a lot and 24hrs later I arrived just outside of DC.
The last few hundred miles were great, through DC to rural Maryland, north to Philly. Stayed a night in a sketchy (but thankfully free) hotel in South Philly. I got a couple of great cheesesteaks (one at Genos, one at Tony Lukes-- Tony Lukes wins), drove around scenic Philadelphia. The last leg was a drive up the NJ turnpike to NYC. Beat a little bit of weather to the city and I made it to home. So glad to be back in the city. It's like rediscovering the city and the region again for the first time, discovering places that were otherwise difficult or required hours-long public transit to get to. Also relearning how to drive deffensive/offensively in the city on a motorcycle. It's definitely different on 2 wheels than 4.
All in all it has been another adventure in my travels and life up here, one that will keep on adding to my world here. Looking forward to riding some in the northeast this summer. Lots of hills and mountains, overlooks and beaches, and miles and miles of roads to explore. So happy to have it here.