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    Senior Member Timtruro's Avatar
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    Best tires for C&O Trail?

    I am planning to ride the C&O trail this season with a friend of mine. In reading about the trail, it occurs to me that my Sirrus with 700x32 tires would handle it ok as it appears that much of the trail is limestone or other hard pack. My friend says he is leaning more toward a mountain bike. Has anyone done this trail in recent years and do 700x32s seem like a logical choice?? thanks for your input.
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    I did about 20 miles east of Harper's Ferry last summer with 700Cx32 with little trouble. I was fortunate in that it hadn't rained too much the previous week, so there were only a few puddles, and only one that was long, deep, and muddy enough that I slipped a bit. It was a little rough, but no problems rolling. The surface did ride like a poorly maintained road.

    It's a tough call, frankly. If I were planning a multi-day trip, I'd go with 35 or 38s (if the bike could handle them) for a bit more smoothing. Fatter tires on a mountain bike would be counter-productive if you're planning to ride significant daily distances, unless they had very little tread.

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    Senior Member bkj's Avatar
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    I did the C&O and GAP in September 2013 on a Salsa Vaya with Schwalbe Marathon Plus 700x38 and had no problems. It was a very comfortable ride. The trail was dry and there was no rain but there were still some "exciting" places. I was happy to have the wider tires.

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    'Gravel Grinders' have the tire companies marketing a tire for that new niche of cycling ,

    so probably something there.. said to be harder tread rubber compound and beefier sidewalls

    top one here as an example http://www.bikeradar.com/news/articl...-taipei-40368/

    a hard pack dry course Cyclo cross tire tread idea, beefed up for all day on unpaved roads .
    Last edited by fietsbob; 03-14-14 at 01:13 PM.

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    I used WTB All-Terrain 700X38 on my Vaya on the GAP and the Katy trail. They have a nice tread and roll fairly well. My buddy rode 700X32 and they worked fine most of the time. Sometimes the trail isn't packed as well as you might think and they dug in from time to time. Some sections are really just dirt and can get a little ugly when it rains. I think the next time I ride the GAP this spring, I am going try the 700X42 Conti Tour Rides.

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    Conditions Dictate Your Choice...

    The answer is... it depends.

    I've ridden the length from Cumberland, MD to Georgetown, DC. In summer, when the trail is somewhat dry and packed, you could ride a hybrid or cyclocross tire. I've seen folks with single speed "gravel grinder" types of conversions, too.

    Your friend's instincts are good, though. For me, and since I have a choice, it's a mountain bike all the way. Because when the trail is wet, you'll bog down on thinner tires. It's tough enough with 2.1" MTB tires. My two cents...

    It'll be fun for you no matter what. So you struggle in the mud and slip around...you'll still have a blast.

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    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Taking notes here. I'm guessing that my Schwalbe Marathan Plus 26X1.35 should be fine on the GAP.

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    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    I would go up to a 700x35 and use a slick tire if the trail is dry or a faster knobby if the weather is damp. A wider tire will be more stable and allow lower air pressure without increasing the risk of pinch flat. I personally would take Vittoria Voyager Hyper, if the trail will be bone dry: Touring « Categories « Vittoria . It's a faster rolling touring slick with a very supple ride and good flat protection. It's safe on wet gravel, but wet mud or silt is not the best surface for this tire.

    If you want some small block tread along the shoulder for soggy conditions, the Clement USH is a great touring tire: http://clementcycling.com/ush

    If rain is in the forecast and thick mud is expected, go with a touring knobby like the Schwalbe Smart Sam: Smart Sam HS 367 | Schwalbe North America

    You might also find a dozen riders who know the C&O in all kinds of weather in the Touring forum.
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    I did the C&O/GAP with ACA a few years back. I Continental Travel Contacts 700x37 on my Trek 520 touring bike, which had room for a set of SGS fenders, and they worked very well. Maybe you have room.

    It was a bit muddy for about two day of our trip. Some of the ACA guys said there was no way they would run fenders on the C&O, but the folks who had a skunk stripe up their back were envious.

    I debated much before going on the trip, and even considered taking my mountain bike. I felt like I made an excellent choice.
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    A couple of years ago I rode the C&O with 700x35 tires and a couple of people in our party had 700x32 tires. The trail was very wet from recent flooding but none of us had any problems except in the one section where the trail was washed out.

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    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    I've ridden long stretches on both a cross bike with 700/32s with semi-knobby tread, and on a mountain bike. Mostly they both worked fine, although I did come close to losing it a few times on some muddy spots with the cross bike. I prefer the mountain bike though mainly because of how beat-up I felt on the cross bike. I think I lost a couple of teeth just before hitting the Paw Paw tunnel... (bring lights for that BTW.)
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    I second the Travel Contacts.I have ridden the GAP & C&O in late October the last 2 years and parts of the trail were dry and parts VERY muddy. The Travel Contacts worked GREAT. They were good for the time riding around DC on pavement.
    FWIW I ride a Giant Escape hybrid with 700X32 tires and fenders for this ride.

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    Senior Member Timtruro's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the input, I'm going to check out a slightly wider tire if the rims will take them. Otherwise, sounds like a knobbier version of th 32s might fill the bill, I'll check with the guys at the LBS to see what the bikes would handle.
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    Senior Member capejohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timtruro View Post
    I am planning to ride the C&O trail this season with a friend of mine. In reading about the trail, it occurs to me that my Sirrus with 700x32 tires would handle it ok as it appears that much of the trail is limestone or other hard pack. My friend says he is leaning more toward a mountain bike. Has anyone done this trail in recent years and do 700x32s seem like a logical choice?? thanks for your input.
    Tim: Your finally touring? Nice, and it's about time. 700x32 tires will do you just fine.

    Are you doing the C&O with the Rails to Trails group in June? That's my summer tour this year and I'm running 700x32s on my Novara Randonee bike. I'm driving to Cumberland Md. on the 20th.

    Brandon has moved to Austin and with that in mind, I'm riding the Southern Tier Route from Jacksonville Fla, to Austin in either October or next March.

    Maybe I'll see you on the canal one of these days.
    Last edited by capejohn; 03-20-14 at 12:32 PM.
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    Senior Member Timtruro's Avatar
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    Yes John doing a little "credit card" touring I hope. Not doing the C&O with an organized group just a neighbor I ride with. I don't think we can schedule it until the fall, so a ride report on your June trip would be appreciated.
    "If there are no cigars in heaven, I shall not go." -Mark Twain

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  16. #16
    Senior Member capejohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timtruro View Post
    Yes John doing a little "credit card" touring I hope. Not doing the C&O with an organized group just a neighbor I ride with. I don't think we can schedule it until the fall, so a ride report on your June trip would be appreciated.
    Tim:
    There is always a ride report HERE and HERE
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