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    Rail riding

    Any conversions or experience in riding bicycle on rails?

    #2
    Seems like it would be fun. Lots of videos online on the subject.

    One of the many problems I see is that rails that are in reasonable condition are in use so there is a high chance of encountering someone or something that isn't expecting you or wanting you to be there. Risk vs reward doesn't seem worth the risk. If you go with 'abandoned' routes you still have plenty of legal and safety issues plus from the videos I have seen looks like a pain in the butt and no fun because they tend to be overgrown at the least and maybe also have missing or severely damaged sections. Maybe desert would have chances of a good combo of abandon and still kinda usable condition? And less people that may not like the idea? But then you got to be up to the task of being on your own in the desert which is its own thing.

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      #3
      Riding on single rails requires almost perfect balance. Adding about 4-6 inches to a tip-over or fall.
      Sound dangerous. ..Or do you mean strapping your bike on a train or subway riding rails between stations .

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        #4
        Yeah, I don't understand the OP's question

        I've ridden rail right-of-ways but most of the time they suck, loose pointy rocks... there's some around here that are hard packed dirt so rideable and I have a favorite that takes me to a local distillery, but they are... well... yucky...

        There are some interesting options in EU for taking bikes on the trains and riding from there which sounds really nice if you are staying somewhere you can charge

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        • Retrorockit
          Retrorockit commented
          Editing a comment
          They take unused rails and pave them in some places. No more pointy rocks. They're actually kind of nice.

        #5
        I suspect rail riding relating "conversions" are the tubing attachments that attach to the bike's frame, and both span over to the other rail and forward on the ridden rail:


        ​​​​​​
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        Sometimes locked-together side by side bikes are used. I remember seeing a YouTube video of a very long track ride in South America a few years ago, and there are others.

        Here's the video:



        My guess is the rigs are all homebrew, though maybe there's a related Facehook group of aficionados.
        Last edited by ncmired; 01-11-2023, 07:04 AM.

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          #6
          Here's a California rail riding company: https://www.skunktrain.com/railbikes/

          "Railbiking" seems to be a good search word.

          "Rails to Trails" is the phrase I usually see associated with repurposed and converted abandoned or surrendered rail right of ways.
          Last edited by ncmired; 01-12-2023, 05:27 AM.

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            #7
            I thought rails to trails was a thing everywhere, its been a big thing in my region for years. I think there are a few near me in WI that date back to the 1950's. For my region the 80's seem to be when a lot of lines were abandoned so we have quite a few rail trails now. I don't think many are fully paved, they all seem to have sections that are usually something like crushed limestone. I don't think 19c 110psi road tires would be ideal for the limestone sections or the paved sections in some cases. Some cases the limestone is a lot smoother than 30+ year old pavement.

            In the 80's I rode a bunch of them on my '10 speed' which had 27x1 1/4 smooth tires. Recently I have done a few on my street E bike. They tend to be pretty flat which is nice and on an E bike you can basically consider them flat because you don't feel a couple percent grade at all. I remember one we used to ride that was about 30 miles was something like a 1.5% grade almost the whole way. You can't see that but you can sure feel it pedaling. Once we figured that out we made sure to either ride it down hill or do the up hill first.

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            • Retrorockit
              Retrorockit commented
              Editing a comment
              SoFla only has 2 rail lines and they're both still busy. Central FL has some though.2% grade is a big deal to a freight train with steel wheels on wet or frozen rails.Once they get rolling they really don't like to stop.

            • ncmired
              ncmired commented
              Editing a comment
              The main reason I'm building my train bike is to ride the 300 mile-ish GAP Trail & C&O Canal, which is roughly half & half rails to trails and converted canal towpath. I'll Amtrak from home to D.C., from there Amtrak over to Pittsburgh, ride the bike back to D.C., then Amtrak ride home. Since the bike path is never too far from the D.C./Pittsburgh Amtrak line, in case of a catastrophic issue I'll uber over to the nearest rail station.

              If this trip turns out enjoyable, I'll look at the other bike trails reachable via Amtrak - but only ones with overnight B&B or hotel accommodations, as my old bones like a hot morning shower.
              Last edited by ncmired; 01-11-2023, 10:25 AM.

            #8
            I rode that Skunk Railroad when they ran a steam train on it!
            I do think a fair bit of riding a bike on the rail. That posted link showed how to do it. A rail route would be the best bike route ever, except for the damned trains.

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              #9
              If I were to engage in riding on rails I think some sort of recumbent bike setup and a throttle lock would be the way to do it since it's not really very interactive riding... that and a really big battery - enough for the TV, reading light at night and beer cooler? Click image for larger version

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              • 73Eldo
                73Eldo commented
                Editing a comment
                Then you could enclose it and give yourself a little more space? Maybe add a bathroom? Then maybe add a driver? And a cook and a wait person? Why hasn't anyone thought of this sort of setup yet?

              #10
              The overall concept seems sort of boring. Mentioned above 2% grade is huge for a train and wide sweeping curves, so no real hills, twists, turns, jumps, or anything else that might be considered 'fun', etc. Around here, we have some "rails to trails" where they took out the rail and saved the path - they are definitely some of the more boring rides....long, straight, hardly any turns, spend 15-20 minutes grinding up a 'hill' then the downside is so shallow, you can hardly coast.

              If it happens to be a 'live' / in use rail, then you're risking death in getting run over by a 70mph freight train or 90+mph amtrack, or arrested if the normal or railroad police see you.

              Comment


              • Retrorockit
                Retrorockit commented
                Editing a comment
                I think rail scooters would be cool. Those powered skateboards with handlebars. Just pop the tires off and away you go.

              • ncmired
                ncmired commented
                Editing a comment
                Yep, could be very boring - the "where" and surrounding scenery would make all of the difference. A nearby (not converted rails to trails) bike & walking trail follows a river, snaking along the river and then though wooded areas, as the terrain required - makes all the difference - versus an open, say in the midwest straight with no trees or shade flattish slog.

                I'm hoping for the best on the GAP Trail & C&O Canal trek. I have looked at pictures, videos, and google earthed a fair amount of it.
                Last edited by ncmired; 01-13-2023, 10:15 AM.

              • AZguy
                AZguy commented
                Editing a comment
                Not that it's a huge deal but riding on any active line isn't legal and plenty of inactive lines wouldn't be either... granted worst case is most likely getting trespassed...

              #11
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyhcfccJkKc

              https://youtu.be/JeC1ekTjoy8
              Last edited by Retrorockit; 01-13-2023, 11:00 AM.

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                #12
                Rocket sled rail riding, huh Retro. Well, it worked for those brave aero men and even Indiana Jones, so why the hell not ...

                Last edited by ncmired; 01-13-2023, 11:16 AM.

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                • Retrorockit
                  Retrorockit commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Rails is rails.
                  It's retro, and it's got rockits
                  Last edited by Retrorockit; 01-13-2023, 11:21 AM.

                • AZguy
                  AZguy commented
                  Editing a comment
                  To modify an old quote from Evil: "If I were creating the world I wouldn't mess with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers _and rocket sleds_, eight o'clock, Day One!"

                  =]

                #13
                Originally posted by ncmired View Post
                H-California rail riding company: https://www.skunktrain.com/railbikes/

                "Railbiking" seems to be a good search word.
                Pictures = 30 minutes of typing.
                2 Rails. 4-wheels. 2-seats. 1-pedal assist E-motor. 1-Big Locomotive to push you on schedule.
                ​​

                A sDiesel-Electric Train from Willits
                1 rescue boat in case you can`t stay on schedule.​
                Last edited by dirtman; 01-14-2023, 11:04 AM.

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                  #14
                  • ncmired
                    ncmired commented

                    The main reason I'm building my train bike is to ride the 300 mile-ish GAP Trail & C&O Canal, I'll Amtrak from home to D.C., from there Amtrak over to Pittsburgh, ride the bike back to D.C., then Amtrak ride home. Since the bike path is never too far from the D.C./Pittsburgh Amtrak line,
                  ​Good luck building your train bike. Don`t worry about getting run over by a train. All the rails are gone or Relocated.
                  I live in Pittsburgh. A few years back a few of us veterans planned the ride from Pittsburgh to Wash DC.
                  Pedal bikes only. I only use my MB to rescue my dirt bikes when I run out of gas or to get parts.
                  While on a few practice rides 40-60 miles, I had to drop out. My legs could handle it by my butt couldn`t.

                  Eastern Continental Divide, PA – Mile 123.5 from Pittsburgh
                  The Eastern Continental Divide, located 23.5 miles from Cumberland, Maryland, is the highest point on the trail at 2,392 feet above sea level. This point marks the divide between the watershed that heads to the Atlantic Ocean and the watershed that heads to the Gulf of Mexico.
                  One of my vet friends dropped out at about mile 90. Before we die we plan on getting dropped off at the E-Continental divide and pedaling into WDC. and taking Amtrack or the bus back to Pittsburgh. I`ll be 72 soon and he`ll be 74 so maybe we might plan the trip in October 2023. If you make the trip before us keep us informed about Amtrack. Good luck.



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                  • Retrorockit
                    Retrorockit commented
                    Editing a comment
                    There were a lot of rails hauling coal and iron ore to Pittsburgh back in the day.Then steel to Detroit.There was oil in PA also.

                  #15
                  Yep, Retro - coal, and the like - quite the industry. Much quieter now. There are still active oil wells, but I think their recovery rates have dropped off - at least for the small business ones I know of in the New York southern tier. No more hit&miss engines - flip a switch and electric pump, when the return is worth it. Lot of gas still I think - enough and convenient enough that some have the luxury of a gas head right on their property, making free heat.

                  And thanks, dirtman, for that info - it might have been one of your earlier posts regarding the trail that clued me in on it. Timewise, I'm five years out, and you'll likely beat me to it.

                  I've got a "60 mile in one sitting seat" (and likely suitable for more), but I don't have legs - no, not the ZZ Top reference! And, no camping for me - I'm going to spring for one of the guide services, hotels, and B&Bs - I've earned it.
                  Last edited by ncmired; 01-15-2023, 05:53 AM.

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