Albany, New York is the capital of the state of New York, and it is also a business and educational hub. A large number of colleges and universities make their home in and around the city, so that college-town-vibe has roots in a number of places around the city. Also, the only Brompton dealer in the upstate region keeps business across from Washington Park on Madison Avenue (only about 6 blocks from a great coffee shop on Lark Street!) I had business in Albany, and I wanted to try to make the trip without my car using only the Brompton and public transportation. While others in many places around the world routinely do this, in this part of New York State, people see this as an oddity. "If you own a car, why would you bicycle?" "You use the train? That's so quaint!"
The morning of my trip, I fit what I needed into the Brompton touring bag and pedaled the 5ish miles (8 km) to the train station. There are only 4 trains a day from Syracuse to Albany, so this one was not to be missed. Today, the train was only about 15 minutes late. I've waited for much longer before. Amtrak allows a folded bicycle as one of 3 checked bags, and I did not check. I carried on, stowing the bicycle in the convient storage rack just past the toilets from the entrance door.
Notice in the following photo that the bike fit most easily in the top space on the rack. I worried a little that it might tip, and the train started and stopped gently enough that that was no real concern. This might be a little difficult for some to lift it that high. My configuration is a very pretty heavy one, and I had no trouble. The conductor did make a comment about how small the bike folded. I have yet to see another Brompton in my travels, so I'm pretty sure he's never seen one before.
In retrospect, I am likely to avoid taking the train all the way to Albany in the future. I think I will get off at the station in Schenectady, the city-stop before Albany. Just outside of the Albany station, the train stopped for over 20 minutes while it was divided into two sections. One section went north-east to Boston and the other went south to New York City. I thought it would be better to get off at the Albany-Rensselaer station and ride from there because it was a shorter ride to my destination by a couple of miles. The 20 minute wait added to the hill climb from one side of the Hudson across the bridge down to downtown Albany and then the second hill climb up out of the valley makes me think that getting off the train earlier is a better choice.
One interesting note: I stopped off at my favorite Albany pub, C. W. Evans Brewery at the Albany Pump Station for a pint on the way out of the Hudson Valley. I rode right to the door, and folded up my bike, carrying it and my T-bag into a corner near the bar. As soon as I sat down, the owner of the establishment came up to me, interested in talking to me about folding bicycles. He's a boater, interested in finding foldies to put on his powerboat for when he is docked. I have to admit a small sin. While I did extol the virtues of the Brompton, I specifically neglected to send him directly the the LBS that sells Bromptons. I am ashamed, and I'll explain later why I was so reluctant. And he was kind enough to buy me my pint. Sigh... I am a selfish bastard...
On my way to my hotel, I did pass this sight. I couldn't help stopping for this photo. I've heard that the buses are for tours of the city of Albany, but I haven't seen any on the road?
After a quick ride (once I was out of the valley) through what was mostly sub-urban bedroom communities, arrival at the hotel cheered me up. The room was comfortable, and, more importantly, there was a good Belgian style ale at the hotel restaurant! Nobody seemed to mind that I didn't have a car to list on my hotel registration.
I will definitely make an effort to multi-modal my way to Albany again.