How to get from Missoula, MT to Seaside, OR
January 26, 2012 8:42 AM   Subscribe

I need to get two people and two bicycles from Missoula, MT to Seaside, OR quickly, cheaply, and without disassembling the bicycles. What are my options?

Two adults, two bicycles, and panniers filled with touring gear need to make that trip in early August. We need to leave our car in Missoula to hop into at the end of the bike tour. We do not want to have to disassemble the bikes (ie- box the bikes up).

We have looked at renting a car in Missoula and dropping it off in Astoria but that will cost ~$470, plus gas.

We looked into taking Amtrak but that requires a bus to get to the coast and I don't think Amtrak buses are like city buses with the bike racks on the grill.

Time is a concern getting out to Seaside so the unreliability of hitch-hiking won't suffice.
posted by thewestinggame to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Flying is going to be your only other option besides driving, but you're going to HAVE to invest in cases and disassemble the bikes (take the wheels off).

Trains+bus probably wouldn't work either. I have looked into that (bus), and they wouldn't be able to take cargo that big.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 8:55 AM on January 26, 2012

You might want to check into UHauls or similar moving vans/trucks as well as the one-way penalties aren't as high as with car rentals. I've known other bicycle tourists who've done that to avoid boxing their bikes.
posted by BlooPen at 8:56 AM on January 26, 2012

Crazyguy has a few examples of people doing this. Tandems, recumbents, and people with BoB trailers do it most often because shipping these can be more costly than the rental fees, but regular upright riders use this option fairly frequently, too. Just get some decent straps/rope to tie the bikes to the sides of the truck.
posted by BlooPen at 9:02 AM on January 26, 2012

If you are willing to end your tour in Whitefish, MT, instead of Missoula (or hitchhike that distance), then you can take the train from Whitefish to Portland (which is a very pleasant trip) and then the Amtrak bus from Portland to Astoria, as you mention. Some Amtrak routes allow unboxed bikes, but this one does not. You would need to buy an Amtrak bike box (which is much, much bigger than a bike box you might use to fly). To get your bike in the box, you probably just need to remove your pedals unless you have very wide handlebars. The cost is $15 for the bike box and $5 to take the bike on the train. They will take the same box on the Amtrak bus to Astoria.

The bus service from Missoula to Whitefish does not work well with the train schedule and I'm not sure if they take bikes either. You can take the Greyhound to Spokane to meet the train there, but you have to box your bike in a small box for Greyhound, so that won't work for you.
posted by ssg at 9:15 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

So, this would be contraindicated, I'm guessing, by the current location of the bikes, car, and people, but just in case: could you drive the bikes to Seaside, leave them somewhere safe (bike shop, storage unit?), then drive the car to Missoula, then bus/train/fly back to Seaside?
posted by mskyle at 9:17 AM on January 26, 2012

Best answer: Piggybacking on mskyle, do you have a friend who might drive out to Seaside with you and then drive your car back to Missoula? Or a Craigslist "friend" who would do it for cash?
posted by jeffch at 9:21 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ignore the bit about Astoria in my comment above: you can take the Amtrak bus to Seaside.
posted by ssg at 9:23 AM on January 26, 2012

Best answer: From Portland to Seaside: Public Oregon Intercity Transit. This is the bus line running twice a day from Portland to Astoria via US 26 and Seaside. $17 apiece for Portland to Seaside. I'd call them to see if they allow bikes.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:30 AM on January 26, 2012

For whatever it's worth, I have done a tour where I flew to the city of my starting point with my bike boxed. I reassembled it at the airport, cut up and abandoned the box there. It wasn't that bad.

And of course, Missoula is the hometown of the Adventure Cycling Association, so you could just drop by their offices and ask what they recommend.
posted by adamrice at 9:55 AM on January 26, 2012

Do you know any profs at U of M? It's a small town; I bet you do. Ask them for trustworthy students that might be up for jeffch's suggestion of driving both ways. It's summer. I guarantee some poor student will need the cash.
posted by desjardins at 9:58 AM on January 26, 2012

At the end of the summer of 2010, I finished a bike tour in Astoria/Warrenton and took this bus to Portland to catch the train:

It also stops in Seaside. I had a touring bike and all my panniers. They let me put the bike on the bottom and I believe I brought my panniers onto the bus with me. I had 4 panniers lashed together, plus a handlebar bag and a sack of food.

In Warrenton, the stop is very badly marked and I waited in the wrong place the first day, resulting in me missing the bus, which was the only one that day. In Seaside, the bus stops at an actual gas station, which I believe sells tickets.

This bus also counts as a service of Amtrak, but Amtrak knows very little about it.
posted by akgerber at 2:23 PM on January 26, 2012

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