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Old 08-19-08, 09:39 PM   #1
problempoker
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which bike to use

Next month I am planning on riding an 80 mile trip from Washington DC to Harpers Ferry WV. I will be taking a Canal Toepath trail. The trip is a steady gradual grade uphill and the terrain is gravel and dirt. Should I use my mountain bike (specialized rockhopper) or my Specialized Sirrus Sport (Basically a Flat Bar Road Bike) equipped with cycrocross tires (700c X 32mm). I'm leaning towards the Sirrus, I'm not really to keen on th idea of a 80mile trip on a mountain bike. Any opinions? My only fear is I am really going to feel the road on the Sirrus and it may become rather annoying come mile 60.
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Old 08-19-08, 10:01 PM   #2
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If it were just gravel and dirt, the Sirrus would be fine. You will find rocks and tree roots also - which would have me wanting to run at least 38mm tires if I didn't have the benefit of a suspension. (I rode this on a full suspension tank of a MTB 5 years ago)

Good luck with your adventure.
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Old 08-19-08, 10:01 PM   #3
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I took my road bike on the C&O Towpath with 32mm tires with tread a few times. I think it is doable but quite painful. It is not only rough on the butt but also painful on the hands because they also have to absorb some tough shocks (a few bumps make both of my arms tingle). I don't wear bike gloves. Most people on it have a mountain bike. You may also get better traction.

it is just my experience, not the law. I was considering a ride up to Harper's Ferry from DC and overnighting it, but I think I will have to X that one. Well maybe, if I can get something bigger than 35's on my trek 520.
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Old 08-19-08, 11:00 PM   #4
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unfortunately 32mm is the widest tire I can fit on the bike. I bought the ritchey tricross tires, they are pretty knobby and seem to get good traction. i tested them out last night keeping the pressure at 75 psi, maybe i'll take the pressure down and see if the ride is more confortable.
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Old 08-19-08, 11:01 PM   #5
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Ive ridden about 30miles of the towpath on my flat bar road bike with 35mm tires. i specifically ordered 35mm puncture proof tires for the ride. It was okay during the ride, but when i got home my hands and arms were hurting like hell. i crawled in bed and stayed in fetal position for the rest of the day.

my friend had a comfort hybrid with 38mm tires and front and seatpost suspension and was fine. i think the biggest difference was the suspension taking the edge off the bumps.

like some folks in this thread, i was considering riding up to harpers ferry and coming back down, but I think I'll have to wait till i can borrow a mountain bike. the other route i wanted to try was taking W&OD up and C &O down.
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Old 08-20-08, 07:45 PM   #6
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Problempoker - I've done the C&O towpath twice with scout groups; either bike will work, although the MTB may be slightly more comfortable, esp. if it rains and the towpath gets muddy. My 1st full-length ride was on a hardtail MTB with a rigid fork. The second time I rode it on a Jamis Coda (flat bar 700c wheels) but used 38mm tires. Can you find some packed dirt/gravel roads and see how the bike feels on the 32s?

Also, remember you'll need to carry the bike up a circular staircase onto the pedestrian path on the rr bridge at Harpers Ferry to get across the river and into town.

jo, after several days on the towpath, everyone's hands felt beat up. I started using my handlebar bag as erzatz aerobars just to give my wrists a break. The W&OD/C&O combo is a fun ride and I did something like that last year. I took the W&OD to Leesburg, briefly up 15 to White's Ferry, and then up the towpath to Point of Rocks where I met a friend and his scout group. We rode to G'town (even found the elusive mile marker zero) and I bummed a ride with them back into NoVA. I used the Jamis for this. I think there's a version of that ride at bikewashington.org. They also have a ride that goes thru the Antietam battlefield a few miles upriver from Harpers Ferry. Another fun ride.

Do you guys know about the COTowpath group on Yahoo groups? Lot's of good info there about towpath conditions, equipment recommendations, lodging, etc.
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Old 08-20-08, 08:59 PM   #7
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thanks for the input, i did 30 miles up the canal this evening using the sirrus (using 32mm). the ride seemed quick, however, i was itching to get off the path when I got to georgetown and i switched over to the capital cresant. i have an old suspension seatpost that I might put on the bike on ride day, i'm sure its not going to help much, but come mile 70 it may make a difference.
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Old 08-21-08, 01:57 AM   #8
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thanks for the input, i did 30 miles up the canal this evening using the sirrus (using 32mm). the ride seemed quick, however, i was itching to get off the path when I got to georgetown and i switched over to the capital cresant. i have an old suspension seatpost that I might put on the bike on ride day, i'm sure its not going to help much, but come mile 70 it may make a difference.
You haven't hit the parts that will rattle your teeth. Good luck with your ride.
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