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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Nobody Expects A Man in the Baggage Car

mtd:102 ytd:236
Rode Falls Church, Va to Union Station via the W&OD, Custis, and Mt.Vernon trails. They were all in excellent (paved) condition. Weather was cool and sometimes light rain. It's fantastic to have a network of trails.

Saw a Syrian protest at the Lincoln Memorial. Saw the ongoing work on the reflecting pond, and I wonder if that project isn't just a facade for a major underground deep-government project, hidden in plain sight. Saw the Capital building which looks a bit like Parisian barricades.

Rode to Union Station. My recent Amtrak experience is small stations: Pittsburgh, Connellsville, Harper's Ferry. Union Station is like the ORD of Amtrak. Also, a remarkable structure. Rolled in with my bike, no problem at all. In Union Station there was no need to take elevators between levels, the track platforms are at the same level as the outer doors. (So are the tracks, so you have to lift your bike up into the baggage car).

The Amtrak experieince is great. There's a phenomenon common to cyclists I call GBCWHW: Great, But Can We Have WiFi? When a new bit of cycling infra is introduced, it's wonderful, it's magical, it's a capability where there was none before, it's a miracle after years of planning, coordinating, and persuading. And while the magic persists and we continue to appreciate the new (bridge, ramp, service), very quickly the cyclist mind turns to: Great, But Can We Have WiFi? I love the Amtrak service and I really look forward to onboard Wifi, which is a thing they do on other routes. I'm very happy with my RORO service, I just wonder: I can has RORO&Wifi, por favor?

I really try not to delay the train when disembarking (I can't quite say detraining, although the Amtrak announcements use that term) so I'm positioned outside the locked baggage compartment fifteen minutes before arrival. In a few minutes the conductor arrived to unlock the door, and I go into the baggage compartment and derack my bike, then retrieve my five bags and start loading the bike so I can roll off in one Therblig.

The train arrives just as I finish schlepping, and a different story is onfolding on the platform. An Amtrak worker drives a tug pulling baggage carts out on the platform, stops next to the arriving train, the train stops and she opens the big baggage hatch.

I'm standing inside the baggage hold, the door opens, and by reflex I said "Hiiiiii!" as is my wont. I don't think she expected that, it kind of startled her. Nobody expects a man in the baggage car.

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