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Thread: C&O in a day

  1. #1
    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    C&O in a day

    Well folks I have finally decided to do the whole enchilada in a one day bike ride. I have wanted to do this for 2 years. I hope to leave Friday night for Cumberland,Maryland, and then ride on Saturday at 5:00AM. For those that don't know this trail: It's flat(good) but a little rough(bad). It's a pack dirt trail with some mud holes, potholes, ped traffic, sometimes 2" gravel. I think I need to average about 13 mph with a couple of lights to make the entire trip. I'll post a TR if and when I finish. I plan on taking my touring bike(Miyata 1000) with 700x37 tires. This bike is my most comfortable ride. My biggest concern is my arse. I always ride a Brooks Pro but am beginning to 2nd guess myself. Perhaps lots of butt butter and a cushy seat might be a better choice(wishing I had a sprung seat). What do y'all think? A Thudbuster and Brooks? cushy seat and butter? Stay home;-) I am also going to put extra padding on my bars, bring lots of power bars, Gu, powder energy drink, space blanket(just in case), reg bike parts and tools. Some of you gave me great advice when I first posted this idea in the touring forum. No longer a dream, soon to be reality. I will look for your seat advice. Thanks Charlie

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    Keep on climbing
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    Good luck... That's a long, long ride for one day. I sure wouldn't even think about messing with any aspect whatsoever of my bike just days before embarking on a 180 mile ride. Leave the saddle alone!
    "There is more to life than increasing its speed" -- Mahatma Gandhi

  3. #3
    train safe buelito's Avatar
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    I'm looking forward to reading your ride report when you get done Best of luck (don't forget a light for the tunnel). Are you going it alone? I spoke with a guy in the bike shop about three weeks ago that did ti with 2 friends...they did it in total of 17 hours including stops (leisurely lunch and none of them coordinated on 'bathroom breaks').

    oh-- and HAVE FUN!

    train safe-

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    A soft / cushy saddle will actually make things worse overall, as you're likely to chafe and cause other problems. If you're already used to it, a Brooks will be ok.

    Softer grips will also be counter-productive, as you may wind up gripping a bit too hard and thus adding to hand strain. If you have flatbars you can go for the Ergon grips, they pwn. Not sure what you should do if you've got drops.

    Thudbuster sounds like a better idea to me. You might also want to use tires with some tread and a lower PSI, you probably won't need knobblies though.

    For what it's worth, you may want to check out a book on long distance cycling. I picked up one recently (iirc the one written by Burke?) which includes some discussion of mtb / offroad long distance techniques.

    How long is this C&O thingee...?
    Last edited by Bacciagalupe; 08-17-06 at 01:52 PM.

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    Good luck!!!

    Weather should be nice, path won't be muddy at all. It's too late to experiment with different saddles imho - use whatever your bottom is used to. Again, good luck!

  6. #6
    Because I thought I could ks1g's Avatar
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    When I rode the towpath last summer (4 day trip with Scouts), by the 3rd day, I was wishing I had aerobars (wide spaced for stability) or someplace to rest my arms and relieve my wrists. Expect lots of vibration and anything that can rattle or shake loose will! (You probably know that). Several people on our group used camelbacks and I'd bring one plus bike bottles. Oh - bring a warning bell - required by the Park Service and it's be a bummer if your trip got messed up by a zealous ranger! Have a great time and look forward to the TR.

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    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    OK Seems everybody says to leave the seat alone. Done! Handle bars left alone as well.
    Bacciagalupe: C&O is 186 miles of flat (semi)pack dirt.
    ks1g: Bell, Good point, especially since this is a weekend. I hate the damn things but they have their place.
    buelito: I'm going it alone.
    Bacciagalupe: Seatpost: might check out at lunch
    I'll leave tonight, sleep at the trail head in my vanagon(hotel is $123.00!!), wake up and ride by 5ish. I'm psyched!! Thanks for the input. Trip report to follow, whether I make it or not. Charlie
    PS I'm bring lots of butt butter!!

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    Bike Curious.... bobby c's Avatar
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    Way cool Charlie! Nice goal, I'd like to do that someday.

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    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    Well I did it!!! It was brutal. I started at 5:02 AM!!! It’s really dark in Cumberland at that time. I used a cheesy hiking headlamp for this first hour. Had to go real slow. I wanted to save my good light for the final section. The first 100 miles were smooth as silk. I felt strong. I was averaging 15mph once the sun was up. I had to make myself slow down. Hardly took any breaks. Around mile 100-120 I was beginning to have serious doubt, legs cramping, stomach was tired of gu and bars, neck was in pain, feet falling asleep, hands going numb. My “Georgetown ride home” was on this part of the trail and flagged me down. We road for a while, he fed me potato chips and ICE water. I rested 20 minutes for my first real break and put on fresh clothes. I was rejuvenated! I rode easily to mile 140 with him (before he went to Georgetown) and then I was alone for the final 50. I popped a few ibuprofens. I never felt good for the rest of the ride but knew I could make it. The pills really helped my neck but my stomach wasn’t pleased. It took a lot longer to finish the last 60 miles, as I had to rest almost every 15 miles. Quite a shock arriving in Georgetown, cars, people, noise. I was ringing my bell all the way to Thompson’s Boathouse.
    Weather: perfect
    Trail: dry, rut free, fast and dusty (coated my legs, bike and water bottles), very very dark at 5:00AM and 8:30PM.
    Bike: flawless (I had tighten every screw, clean and lubed the whole beast, replaced the chain/rear cassette and left the seat alone)
    Food: I may never eat gu again though I am sure it helped. 3 peanut butter sandwiches, 2 blueberry muffins, 2 bananas, strawberries, peach, gu, gu ,gu, cliff bars, cliff bars, cliff bars, cytomax powder energy drink
    Body: I am in some pain today with a couple of numb toes, sore and slightly numb a$$, hands have slight bruising, neck is sore, legs tired but good. Stomach was never feeling good after 100 miles. I think more real would have been better. I filled it up today.
    The numbers: departure 5:02 AM, completion 9:22PM, total 16 hour 20 min. avg speed 13.89mph, distance 188.7 miles, total time on bike 13:35:52 hours (apparently I took more breaks that I thought-most came in the final 60).

    This was one of the most physically demanding adventures I have ever put my body through. I am very thankful for y’alls advice. It was great to have some extra clothes, leaving the seat and handlebars alone, info on trail conditions, parking info. I wanted to park in the trailhead lot and sleep in my van. Cumberland was having a huge street party so this plan was aborted. Anyway I think I planned it well, training, bike maintenance, food (could have been a little better) and clothes. Even had a shot of Irish whiskey at the end. The stomach was happy to finally recognize something. Later Charlie

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    train safe buelito's Avatar
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    congratulations!!! great that you could do it--and I am doubly impressed as you did it alone...

    train safe-

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    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by balto charlie
    Well I did it!!! It was brutal. I started at 5:02 AM!!! It’s really dark in Cumberland at that time. I used a cheesy hiking headlamp for this first hour. Had to go real slow. I wanted to save my good light for the final section. The first 100 miles were smooth as silk. I felt strong. I was averaging 15mph once the sun was up. I had to make myself slow down. Hardly took any breaks. Around mile 100-120 I was beginning to have serious doubt, legs cramping, stomach was tired of gu and bars, neck was in pain, feet falling asleep, hands going numb. My “Georgetown ride home” was on this part of the trail and flagged me down. We road for a while, he fed me potato chips and ICE water. I rested 20 minutes for my first real break and put on fresh clothes. I was rejuvenated! I rode easily to mile 140 with him (before he went to Georgetown) and then I was alone for the final 50. I popped a few ibuprofens. I never felt good for the rest of the ride but knew I could make it. The pills really helped my neck but my stomach wasn’t pleased. It took a lot longer to finish the last 60 miles, as I had to rest almost every 15 miles. Quite a shock arriving in Georgetown, cars, people, noise. I was ringing my bell all the way to Thompson’s Boathouse.
    Weather: perfect
    Trail: dry, rut free, fast and dusty (coated my legs, bike and water bottles), very very dark at 5:00AM and 8:30PM.
    Bike: flawless (I had tighten every screw, clean and lubed the whole beast, replaced the chain/rear cassette and left the seat alone)
    Food: I may never eat gu again though I am sure it helped. 3 peanut butter sandwiches, 2 blueberry muffins, 2 bananas, strawberries, peach, gu, gu ,gu, cliff bars, cliff bars, cliff bars, cytomax powder energy drink
    Body: I am in some pain today with a couple of numb toes, sore and slightly numb a$$, hands have slight bruising, neck is sore, legs tired but good. Stomach was never feeling good after 100 miles. I think more real would have been better. I filled it up today.
    The numbers: departure 5:02 AM, completion 9:22PM, total 16 hour 20 min. avg speed 13.89mph, distance 188.7 miles, total time on bike 13:35:52 hours (apparently I took more breaks that I thought-most came in the final 60).

    This was one of the most physically demanding adventures I have ever put my body through. I am very thankful for y’alls advice. It was great to have some extra clothes, leaving the seat and handlebars alone, info on trail conditions, parking info. I wanted to park in the trailhead lot and sleep in my van. Cumberland was having a huge street party so this plan was aborted. Anyway I think I planned it well, training, bike maintenance, food (could have been a little better) and clothes. Even had a shot of Irish whiskey at the end. The stomach was happy to finally recognize something. Later Charlie

    Congrats~!

    Nicely done. Sounds like you'll be starting a brevet series next year?

    Did you go through Haper's Ferry? One of my favorite spots...

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    Congrats on a serious accomplishment!! I rode the whole canal earlier this summer over 4 days and my arms & a** were a little sore at that pace. I'm glad everything worked out so well for you.
    God grant me the serenity to accept the hills and winds I cannot change;
    courage to challenge the cagers I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
    (with apologies to AA)
    24 mi. roundtrip -- Maryland suburbs to DC and back.

  13. #13
    Dagger Boy Extort's Avatar
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    Sounds like you had tons of fun! Congratulations!

    For next time, try to eat more solid food at the beginning of the ride and save the gu until later when you really need faster pick me ups...
    Women think they're so clever because they can fake an orgasm for the sake of a relationship, but men can fake a whole relationship for the sake of an orgasm.

  14. #14
    Senior Member orcanova's Avatar
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    Great riding! Congrats. That is a lot of miles for one day

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    A Little Bent Hammertoe's Avatar
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    Fabulous job!! Although the C&O is flat it is NOT pavement.
    I grew up right off Falls Rd (Potomac was a sleepy 4 corner town in the sticks and none of those mansions were built). I have hiked the entire C&O (not in one day) so I do admire the feat!!!
    Last edited by Hammertoe; 09-01-06 at 08:39 PM.

  16. #16
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    Great ride. Riding 180 miles on the C&O is like riding 270 on the street on a road bike. I've ridden the C&O but never in one day...or two.....

  17. #17
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    Congratulations Charlie! I wish we had trails like that over here on the west coast.
    I know it's late now but regarding you Brooks saddle and your butt.....I was going to suggest you take with you a gel seat cover, just in case.....
    .cinelli.olympic.surly.long.haul.trucker.kona.ku.surly.steamroller.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone
    2 weeks later report: The body has healed except slight numbness in my big toe. It is getting better but is taking it's time. Most body parts that were numb, returned to regular within 2 days. My neck was tight(not painful) for about a week. Stomach was better after a HUGE breakfast the next morning. I was back on the bike the Monday after the Saturday ride. A few butt issues that a seat cover took care of.
    Looking back I need to work on my food intake as was mentioned by Extort. How do y'all deal with the neck pain. I was so tired of looking up. mnt and hybrids bikers would not have this kind of problem. Perhaps aero bars???
    as to doing it alone. I rode about 20 miles with my return ride and it was wonderful, a godsend. One doesn't think about the pain while making simple conversation, time goes by much quicker. Looking for a new adventure!!

    Charlie

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    Senior Member orcanova's Avatar
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    balto charlie...for my BRP trip, I took Tylenol Arthitis Pain formula caplets twice a day as a preventative measure, since sometimes my lower back bothers me. I was pain free the whole trip. The caplets are 650mg, and the first layer is a normal quick dissolve, and the second layer is time release. I got a giant bottle of it at Costco very cheap.

    If you neck was bothering you I bet adjusting your position to more upright on long rides would help alleviate that as well.

    I think I ate too much on my BRP trip as my gut seemed to widen out towards the end of the trip. I actually came back heavier than when I started, although within a week of my return I was 5 lbs. lighter than before the trip. I think I was trying too aggressively to replace all the calories I was burning. Nex time I will just try and eat normal.

  20. #20
    Calamari to go cc_rider's Avatar
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    I marvel at your tenacity.
    I elate in your audacity.
    I despair at your lunacy.

    cc

  21. #21
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    'C&O Canal Towpath Bike Ride in One Day' Report

    Here's my 'C&O Canal Towpath Bike Ride in One Day' Report.
    Date: Thursday, 5/31/12
    Total time: 16:08:08
    Miles: 185.5
    Direction: Cumberland, MD to Georgetown, D.C.
    Start time: 5:35 a.m.
    End time: 9:43 p.m.
    Moving time: 13:31:12
    Stopped time: 2:36:56
    Average speed: 11.5 mph
    Moving average speed: 13.7 mph
    Major rest breaks: 40 min @ Hancock mile 60; 10 min @ Harpers Ferry mile 126; Whites Ferry 15 min @ mile 151; and 8 min @ Great Falls Visitors Center mile 173.
    Calories burned: 9,900
    Calories consumed (food taken in): 4,100
    Bike: 2007 Fuji CrossPro 10 speed cross cycle bike. Stan's Raven cross tires 700x35 (tubeless) 40 psi. Thudbuster suspension seat post.
    Rider bio:
    Age 50,
    Height 70"
    Starting weight 197 lbs. Day after weight 192.4 lbs
    Functional threshold power 245 watts

    Temperature:
    Cumberland, MD @ 5:35 a.m. 58 degrees. Humidity 88% but rising to 100% for about 30 minutes resulting in some fog early on. No wind.
    Hancock, MD @ 10:20 a.m. 74 degrees. Humidity 39%
    Harpers Ferry @ 3:45 p.m. 80 degrees. Humidity 38%
    Whites Ferry @ 6:30 p.m. 79 degrees. Humidity 39%
    Georgetown @ 9:45 p.m. 75 degrees. Humidity 53%

    Support: Semi-supported. My wife met me at Hancock and Whites Ferry.

    Food: With the exception of 2 Gatorades & a Snickers bar that I bought at C&O Bicycle in Hancock and half an apple at Whites Ferry, I carried all my food. I mixed a bottle of Perpetuem (14 scoops) and carried Heed & Perpetuem packets, Cliff Bars, Builder Bars and Stingers in a small pack. I also consumed 3 Sportlegs tablets every 2 hours. Normally, on long rides I develop a pretty good appetite but this one was different. I felt nauseous all day and had to force myself to eat. Since I only consumed fewer than half the calories I burned I suppose my body got the rest from body fat.

    Water: Refill from towpath water pumps. I carried two water bottles on my bike. One with Heed/Perpetuem and the other with regular water. I could have done a better job of consuming water but the foul taste of iodine from the water pumps made me nauseous. Had I known how bad it was I would have used some Potable Aqua Plus tabs to neutralize the iodine.

    Preparation: Although I didn't train specifically for this ride I thought if the opportunity presented itself in the form of good late May weather on a weekday I'd go for it. I started my riding season in mid-January with some 25 mile rides and built on that progressing thru some 40 milers, a few 50 milers, a couple of 65 milers, a 75 miler, 2 centuries, and finally a hilly 120 miler. Some of these were hill rides on Skyline and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Lastly, I did interval workouts indoors to build my power. I tried to schedule my long rides 2-3 weeks apart. I also started an upper body weight lifting and core strengthening program about 6 weeks before the ride.

    Ride notes: When it became clear that the weather was looking good for the last week in May, I booked a room at the Fairfield Inn in Cumberland. I worked a full day the day before so I didn't arrive in Cumberland until about 10:30 p.m. I only got 5 1/2 hours of sleep. I intended to start my ride at 4 a.m. but decided to just wake up naturally and not use the alarm. I ended up waking up at 4. I was carrying a Night Rider Minewt LED light but didn't need it since sunrise was about the same time as my start. My starting pace was about 15 mph and a heart rate in the high 130s (upper end of my Z2 range). Mentally, I divided the ride up into three 60 mile segments: Cumberland to Hancock, Hancock to Harpers Ferry, and Harpers Ferry to Georgetown. I knew I'd be getting tired for the last third of the ride so I divided that with planned stops at Whites Ferry and Great Falls Visitors Center. I had planned to do a negative split for the 2nd half of the ride but that didn't work out due fatigue, mud, and darkness. Shortly out of Cumberland I hit some fog that caused me to stop and dry my glasses. In the Cumberland-Williamsport area, I encountered quite a bit of bike breaking dead fall and high trail side weeds. 3 water pumps in a row were out before the Big Slackwater detour causing me to ride in an out of water condition for about 25 miles. Before Harpers Ferry, I jarringly hit a concealed tree root in the trail causing one hand to come off the bars and one foot to come unclipped. I came pretty close to going down. The ride from Harpers Ferry to Mile Post 0 was just a matter of forcing myself to stay on the bike and keep pedaling. Towpath conditions deteriorated between Harpers and Violets Lock with an increasing frequency of mud. Getting to Milepost 0 was anticlimactic. I got off my bike. Stopped my timers. My wife took a picture and that was it.

    Misc:
    - The combination of the Thudbuster suspension seat post and 40 psi Raven tires made for a comfortable ride.
    - A small tube of Icy Hot is worth carrying to take the edge of sore knees, etc.
    - I tried mounting an areo bar on my bike the night before the ride but I snapped a mounting bolt and couldn't use it.
    - Forget about trying to enjoy the scenery and just focus on the path in front of you and avoiding obstacles.
    - I played music from my iPhone for the middle 60 miles but the earbuds started to hurt after a while.
    - I put a blister on the palm off my right hand even with gloves on. This was irritating.
    - Chafing was a problem. This is usually not an issue with me. It bothered me all day.
    - Allow at least two days for the towpath to dry out after a good rain. When full vegetation is out it will probably take four or five days.
    - If at all possible, time your ride start so that you finish in day light. It's tough trying to keep a decent speed after Great Falls Visitors Center (GFVC) in fading light. The beginning part of the ride lends itself to lighted riding better than the end does.
    - Do not plan on picking up the pace once you get to the GFVC. There are too many people on the trail even in the dark plus you can't safely go flying through Georgetown.
    - Do this ride midweek in order to avoid the crowds.
    - If you are not familiar with Milestone 0 it will be tough to find. Even with a GPS.
    - Using a GPS to track miles remaining and ETA definitely improved my morale.
    - I should have mounted my iPhone on my handlebars to keep monitor of incoming text messages from my wife.
    - Learning to ride no hands on a gravel towpath would definitely be useful.
    - I should have brought along a sandwich or two.
    - Don't skimp on the lighting. If you are planning on holding a 15 mph pace in the dark you'll need a good light. Don't forget about the Paw Paw tunnel either.
    - Be sure to patronize C&O Bicycle in Hancock
    - My bike held up well. No major mechanical issues.
    - Deep tissue Thai massage 36 hours before the ride- bad idea.
    - Spicy Indian food for dinner the night before- bad idea.
    - Bottom line: this was the toughest ride I've done to date and I had to force myself to stay on the bike the last 60 miles. That said, I think I could knock another 90-120 minutes off this ride knowing what I know now plus drier towpath conditions.

  22. #22
    Randomhead
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    kawa001, I'm glad you dug up this old thread. The idea of doing this had occurred to me, mostly after seeing the "crush the commonwealth" went on this trail for a ways. Can you summarize what you think would improve your speed the most? Trying to arrange for dry trail might be the hardest change.

  23. #23
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Worthy bump.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
    RUSA #7498

  24. #24
    Senior Member DGlenday's Avatar
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    I live in the area - and this sounds like a fun challenge!

    I don't have the right bike for it, though. I wonder how it would be on a mountain bike? Perhaps with narrower wheels..?
    Regards,
    Duncan

  25. #25
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    mountain bike with slicks might be ok. Position is questionable for long distance in my opinion, others have done it though

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