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Advice: please evaluate the route of my first tour

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Advice: please evaluate the route of my first tour

Old 05-01-20, 05:37 PM
  #26  
PedalingWalrus
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do it. You're gonna have a blast.

Besides the Cumberland gap I do not see any big hills. It's not flat but not a hilly ride either.
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Old 05-02-20, 06:46 AM
  #27  
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I dunno, it's not the long climbs that worry me. The one out of Cumberland is a railroad grade so it's fairly shallow. It looks intimidating on the route I posted. But zoom in on the segment south out of Bloomington:
ridewithgps.com/routes/32505724

91 miles of irritating rollers, like riding into a gusty headwind. It's a heroic last day for the trip, after I have worn myself out riding 11 days. I know the trip will be a blast but that day won't be fun until I drink beer with my friends the next day. Plenty of daylight, so I can rest and nap if I need to, but still... I could cheat, and pack up my luggage in Bloomington and mail it to myself so I am as light as can be on the last day. That's worse than skipping the trails by using Amtrak. You guys routinely do this stuff loaded for bear.

I plan on training for that day by riding the hilly part of the Civil War Century, a popular event around here. It's being held while I am on my trip so it's just a practice run. I've done it before, unloaded, on the heavy bike, when I was a younger man. Slowly.

-Ed
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Old 05-02-20, 06:54 AM
  #28  
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Only you know your doable daily distances, day after day.
i know mine and that's too much.

But we ain't your mom, do as you please.
The idea is to have a good time.
So have a good time whatever you do.
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Old 05-02-20, 09:21 AM
  #29  
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You're right djb, I'll find out this summer.

I guess I am chattering about my epic grand adventure.

Thanks to all for the helpful input.

-Ed
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Old 05-02-20, 10:33 AM
  #30  
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Hey, no matter on the chatter. That's what most of us do here all the time, and it's a big part of the fun.

Definitely getting out and riding and gradually increasing distances and stamina is important, no substitute for hours in the saddle.
I really do wonder how the reality and atmosphere for traveling vis a vis the covid situation will be.
My wife and I had plans for Europe and that's off the table, but even a week+ long idea from Toronto to Montreal is a nice idea, but frankly who knows how train transport will be, let alone traveling, camp grounds etc... So many unknowns at this point.
Cheers
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Old 05-02-20, 10:39 AM
  #31  
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I will honestly say that the C&O would not be my concern, even when wet. I rode it during Hurricane Irene and had torrential downpours, and had not issues on it, using the stock tires on a Long Haul Trucker. Now, that being said, the route out of Pittsburgh on will be very hilly for quite a while, making going a lot more difficult that any of the GAP/C&O. I rode across Indiana and Ohio going towards Pittsburgh last year, and live in Pittsburgh. The hills get rough around here. It can be done, but I still plan for lower daily milage than you are planning, just in case, and so I can enjoy it more, and stop if I want, without fear of getting behind schedule.
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Old 05-02-20, 11:22 AM
  #32  
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phughes, did you ride my route???

When you say hilly route out of PGH, do you mean the Montour / Panhandle trails, or a road route which is further north? Or do you mean the mountains of eastern Ohio? I've got the Ohio section broken into 2 days, but I'm depending on the rail trails to get me to the Ohio border with moderate effort. The nice folks on BikePGH helped me with that part.

The Bug is a scary unknown. All my stays are cancellable with short notice, just in case. Indiana is opening on a limited basis Monday, so we'll see how that experiment goes. If there is a resurgence this fall, they may close down again, and the party I am riding to will be cancelled anyway. Luckily solo bike riding is one of the few sports left to do, so I can keep training. Even if I cancel I will get to do a lot of riding, so that part is a win/win.

For the record, that 91 mile day can turn out 3 ways: I do it and pay for the next 2 weeks; I crash in French Lick where there are numerous hotels; I call the SAG wagon which will be in range at that point. I'm trying to have options and not bet on one horse here.
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Old 05-04-20, 10:47 AM
  #33  
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The trail is okay, roads are a different story. Still, once off the trails Ohio will be hilly for a while. It sounds like you had good help planning your way through here.

Last edited by phughes; 05-04-20 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 05-05-20, 04:39 AM
  #34  
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The 6" of rain we had in April caused the Potomac to rise, good deal of trail flooding in addition to usual quagmire spots.

Here's a shot near Williamsport by friends who have walking sections of the Towpath when the sun was actually shining. Further downstream the Towpath was completely under water.:

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Old 05-06-20, 09:55 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
The 6" of rain we had in April caused the Potomac to rise, good deal of trail flooding in addition to usual quagmire spots.

Here's a shot near Williamsport by friends who have walking sections of the Towpath when the sun was actually shining. Further downstream the Towpath was completely under water.:
It's been rainy, cloudy & chilly too. Today in Northern Virginia it was actually 1į F colder than Montreal. Well one can take AMTRAK from DC to Cumberland MD (skipping the bumpy muddy C&O). Cumberland has a free parking lot for folks riding the GAP though I don't know what their time limit is.
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Old 05-07-20, 04:06 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
Cumberland has a free parking lot for folks riding the GAP though I don't know what their time limit is.
I didnít notice one in September, and the workers at the welcome center didnít mention one.
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Old 05-07-20, 10:17 AM
  #37  
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Yikes. I see what you mean. Not embarrassed to say no thank you. I read somewhere that the C&O budget is out of proportion to its size because of the repairs needed due to the frequent flooding.

It's threatening to be a rainy and cold May. But September will bring Indian summer, no wind, and clear skies. Right? Also no virus worries.

I have not been out riding much because the weather isn't perfect. A lot of people feel the same way, one day last week was beautiful, and the roads were choked with riders. I plan on doing my 38 mile commute today.
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Old 05-07-20, 08:40 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I didnít notice one in September, and the workers at the welcome center didnít mention one.

Well I drove up there on a scouting run about 2 years ago, could have changed. IIRC it was across the street from the welcome center but fairly small & I didn't realize it was for GAP riders until I drove in & saw small signs about that. If the parking lot isn't available, there's street parking in downtown Cumberland though some neighborhoods look a bit sketchy. Anyway I was quite impressed with the fancy welcome center & trail-head esp compared to the Georgetown DC C&O trail-head which I'm not sure is even marked, plus parking is limited & expensive.
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Old 05-07-20, 10:08 PM
  #39  
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My 2 cents: I rode a couple of week long charity rides in my late 40's; these were fully supported and fully sagged if needed. But, my first true self supported ride was the Southern Tier from San Diego to El Paso and I did that at age 62. I rode for 13 straight days and fell in love with touring. Prior to this ride, I'd never before ridden 50+ miles on a loaded bike followed by camping. In fact I hadn't done any multi-day rides since the charity rides 13 years before. It turned out to be tiring but very doable. My point is that if you're reasonably fit, you'll probably be fine. The first two days of my tour were climbing the Sierra Nevada Mountains and that kicked my butt, however, I did complete that section. If there was a lesson for me, it is don't start your ride with serious climbs on Days 1&2. One big difference between my first tour and you planned route: I was in the West which is relatively dry; my biggest weather hazard was the wind. Also, I have found that trying to adhere to a tight schedule is the most challenging part. Consequently I try to avoid hard start and finish dates; and if I can't do that, then I'll build some cushion into my plans by front loading longer days early so that there are short days at the end. Like most new cycle tourists, I had lots of concerns before my first tour, now with thousands of miles of experiences, I know I can complete my tour.

The bottom line is this: if you follow the training regime you've outlined you'll likely be fine. For added insurance, take Amtrak to Pittsburgh, That will buy you a couple of extra days for cushion. Go ride your tour, meet amazing people, and most important- have fun!
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Old 05-08-20, 04:56 AM
  #40  
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I would like to be able to avoid hard deadlines, but I don't think I can. I'm still working and have a limited window, and this trip takes 14 days, and I have stretched the daily mileage as far as I reasonably can for a first credit card tour. I know I may be asking for trouble by having a strict calendar but I do have bailout options and the schedule can change if it's a dire need. Not as easily as if I was camping, I can't just pitch a tent, but the route is planned around hotels and getting a room at the last minute is more likely than not. At least that is how I'm betting.

I had a ticket to Pittsburgh and refunded it last night. DropBarFan pointed out that Cumberland is an Amtrak bike roll-off station, so I bought that instead. Just insurance in case the towpath goes underwater. The rail trails of the GAP, etc. should be navigable, except for a stretch people have mentioned, and there must be ways around that.

Rode home from work last night and will ride back this morning, 38 miles each way. I'm slow but steady. Training has commenced.
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Old 05-08-20, 05:50 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
Well I drove up there on a scouting run about 2 years ago, could have changed. IIRC it was across the street from the welcome center but fairly small & I didn't realize it was for GAP riders until I drove in & saw small signs about that. If the parking lot isn't available, there's street parking in downtown Cumberland though some neighborhoods look a bit sketchy. Anyway I was quite impressed with the fancy welcome center & trail-head esp compared to the Georgetown DC C&O trail-head which I'm not sure is even marked, plus parking is limited & expensive.
The free, long term parking is under I-68 on Howard St., about a block away from the center. Pretty big lot. I parked there for a week with no problem:

https://www.google.com/maps/@39.6485...7i16384!8i8192
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Old 05-08-20, 12:13 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by eddie_the_K View Post
I would like to be able to avoid hard deadlines, but I don't think I can. I'm still working and have a limited window, and this trip takes 14 days, and I have stretched the daily mileage as far as I reasonably can for a first credit card tour. I know I may be asking for trouble by having a strict calendar but I do have bailout options and the schedule can change if it's a dire need. Not as easily as if I was camping, I can't just pitch a tent, but the route is planned around hotels and getting a room at the last minute is more likely than not. At least that is how I'm betting.

I had a ticket to Pittsburgh and refunded it last night. DropBarFan pointed out that Cumberland is an Amtrak bike roll-off station, so I bought that instead. Just insurance in case the towpath goes underwater. The rail trails of the GAP, etc. should be navigable, except for a stretch people have mentioned, and there must be ways around that.

Rode home from work last night and will ride back this morning, 38 miles each way. I'm slow but steady. Training has commenced.
Even wet, and when I did it, it was really wet, similar to the picture someone posted, I enjoyed the C&O much more than the GAP. I ride the GAP quite often, since I live near it, and I do like it, but the C&O is more enjoyable for me, and there is more to see. As I said, I rode from Pittsburgh to DC when Hurricane Irene hit DC, and got a lot of rain on the C&O. I had no issues. I was running Continental City Contacts as well, not really a mud tire.

I met a man finishing a trans-Am and rode with him. We had the trail to ourselves because of the Hurricane. He was pulling a Burley trailer, and also had no issues. We did see people coming the other way earlier in the trip. Some of them said they had trouble, and didn't enjoy it, but the common denominator in those who said they had trouble and didn't enjoy it, was that they didn't have fenders, and they got really muddy. I believe that made their issues seem bigger than they really were.
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Old 05-09-20, 06:03 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
We did see people coming the other way earlier in the trip. Some of them said they had trouble, and didn't enjoy it, but the common denominator in those who said they had trouble and didn't enjoy it, was that they didn't have fenders, and they got really muddy. I believe that made their issues seem bigger than they really were.
Interesting - I have fenders but have never slogged through serious mud. Sounds like fun! Maybe I'll try it next weekend when it's supposed to rain *again* but should be kind of warm.

However, on this trip I'll be staying indoors, like a civilized person. I might have to bring the bike in with me to keep it safe and dry. It may be prudent to keep it as clean as I can.

Has anybody ever needed to really clean up a muddy bike while on tour? Do you find a self-serve car wash and carefully hose it down?
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Old 05-09-20, 07:44 PM
  #44  
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Serious sticky mud can be a real bugger, I've luckily only had bad build up a few times, to the point of having to stop and find a stick to scrape it down. The worst time was luckily with no fenders, as fenders would have gotten clogged up and possibly damaged.
Fear of this is why I set up one of my bikes with serious space between tires and fenders, anticipating worse case scenarios, but so far haven't been in those conditions.

peanut butter mud folks call it, and this is the proper imagery to have if wondering how mud could be at its worst.
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Old 05-10-20, 05:12 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by eddie_the_K View Post
Interesting - I have fenders but have never slogged through serious mud. Sounds like fun! Maybe I'll try it next weekend when it's supposed to rain *again* but should be kind of warm.

However, on this trip I'll be staying indoors, like a civilized person. I might have to bring the bike in with me to keep it safe and dry. It may be prudent to keep it as clean as I can.

Has anybody ever needed to really clean up a muddy bike while on tour? Do you find a self-serve car wash and carefully hose it down?
If you're planning to bring your bike inside when on tour then you REALLY don''t want to get a heavy build up of mud, especially a clay-based mud, on it.

Clay-based mud is extremely tenacious and it doesn't take a lot of it to stop you as it's also very slippery. Clay-based mud does not even have to be deep to bring you to a standstill. I found that out one day in a local park when I went to take a shortcut through an undeveloped area of it. Withing thirty to fifty feet the wheels had a very heavy build up of a clay-based mud and the wheels kept slipping and the bike came to a stop.

I have ridden a bicycle through much deeper mud that wasn't clay-based and did not have nearly the trouble.

As for cleaning the bike before bringing it inside. Good luck finding a car-wash when you most need one. Getting packed mud off a bike involves a LOT of scrubbing and you need a stiff bristle brush if you don't have a high-pressure hose available.

Speaking of high-pressure water such as a hose at a car wash; be extremely careful not to aim the hose at parts in such a manner that the pressure drives crud in past seals.

Cheers
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Old 05-10-20, 08:06 AM
  #46  
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I used a potter's wheel in my distant past and yes, clay can get very slick. My last house had very clay-ey soil, and it was usually damp. It will cling to everything and stain anything.

If those microscopic clay particles get into the chain (and how could they not?) I would think it's a total loss, come to an end before its time. I can imagine it getting past seals in the spinny parts too, without a pressure wash.

Even if the soil on the C&O is "clean dirt" it's out of my trip.

- Ed
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Old 05-10-20, 08:20 AM
  #47  
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We are so lucky now with the interwebs thingee that it's so much easier to get fairly reliable forecasts, a real plus for planning any dirt ride.
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Old 05-10-20, 08:28 AM
  #48  
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Thanks for posting this route. I live in Cincinnati and have family in DC, so I was planning on getting a ride to pittsburgh and pedaling the GAP/C&O to DC this summer, but now I'm thinking I might take advantage of your route planning and pedal the whole way. Cincinnati to Columbus is straightforward, but I didn't know how to get from Columbus to Pittsburgh.
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Old 05-10-20, 09:54 AM
  #49  
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I really wanted to continue on the rail trail and go from Columbus to Cincinnati, but the route west from there just falls apart. I had to head for Dayton and work my way southwest through Bloomington IN.

If you plan on taking this route east be aware of the treacherous crossing of the Ohio at Steubenville OH. I read up quite a bit on it. There appears to be 2 ways of crossing the river and neither is inviting. Check out this thread:
https://www.bikeforums.net/general-c...ubenville.html

I picked the small bridge and interchange over the freeway bridge. Street View is a beautiful thing for planning bike rides, too.

- Ed
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Old 05-10-20, 09:59 AM
  #50  
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And AeroGut, if you ride it before September be sure and post a ride report because I am curious myself

-Ed
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