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  1. #1
    Pants are for suckaz HandsomeRyan's Avatar
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    Anyone ridden the entire C&O Towpath?

    It seems like there are a lot more dedicated road cyclists here at the tandem forum than there are tandem MTB'ers and tandem hybrid riders but I'll go ahead and throw this out there and see what kind of feedback I get.

    My wife and I have been riding our new-to-us tandem about every chance we get lately. Since we are both really enjoying our new hobby I was hoping to plan a bigger ride for us to do maybe later in the summer or fall of 2010. Since I'm just outside of DC and our tandem has wide tires, I'm thinking riding the C & O Canal Path in its entirety could be fun.

    There is a plethora of information available (such as the website I linked to) but I wondered if anyone here had ever ridden the trail and could offer any more insight into what we'd be getting into as a recreational rider and a novice rider team on a tandem. We would probably ride From Cumberland into DC as it would be a lot easier to get a ride home from DC. I'm thinking 4 days would be a good pace and we'd most likely be staying in hotels or B&B's at night.

    Have any of you ever done this ride before? I'm trying to determine if I'm planning a ride that is above the capabilities of my tandem team [after a bit of training] or our equipment.

    Any input people care to share about planning this type of 'rail-trail' touring is welcome.






  2. #2
    Senior Member WebsterBikeMan's Avatar
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    Go to crazyguyonabike. Navigate to trip journals. There is a section sorted by bike category, with a category for tandems. Several journals in the last two years cover either this portion or the full ride from Pittsburgh.

    I remember that one of them mentioned the need to climb steeply to get to lodging, but that might have been on the western piece of the trip.

  3. #3
    Pants are for suckaz HandsomeRyan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WebsterBikeMan View Post
    Go to crazyguyonabike. Navigate to trip journals. There is a section sorted by bike category, with a category for tandems. Several journals in the last two years cover either this portion or the full ride from Pittsburgh.
    Why was I not made aware of this website sooner?! Awesome! Thanks.

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    Check this out, if you haven't come across it already.
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...&highlight=GAP
    I was thinking of doing something this year too after reading this post. Unfortunately for us we have to arrange a sitter for the time of the ride plus the day to get there, and the time to get back. Have to wait about 10 more years for us. Contemplated taking the triplet, but then we could only do a small section, out and back. A lot of travel in a car with a 7 year old for 2 days of riding. We have decided to spend some extended time in Acadia this year and ride on the paths around there. That looks like a great place to ride. Have fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pablopsd View Post
    Unfortunately for us we have to arrange a sitter for the time of the ride... 7 year old...
    I would not hesitate in taking a 7 year old on the back of a tandem with a stoker kit or on a triplet. Get a trailer for your stuff.

    Before this thread was posted my wife and I were discussing riding the C&O Towpath with our 9 and soon to be 11 year olds. Two tandems, one trailer (naturally we already have a two wheel burley which is not recommended). Ride down the towpath spend a few days in DC. Lots of history and sights to show them. A fun and educational trip. Cost control with a few days camping so its not totally out of hand. Sound great!

    We rode from Ventura (north of LA) to San Diego with a similar set up when the kids were 7 and 9. Stop a lot, don't plan on going far each day, show him/her something interesting along the way s/he will have a great time - you will too.

    I would like to thank HandsomeRyan for starting this thread! Very interesting!

    The big question I have is when is the best time of year to go?
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  6. #6
    Pants are for suckaz HandsomeRyan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reversegear View Post
    naturally we already have a two wheel burley which is not recommended.
    ???

    I saw several travel logs at crazyguyonabike from people using 2 wheeled trailers and none of them seemed to have major complaints. In fact I believe there was a group from BF.net who did a group tour and 2 of the members used 2 wheeled trailers. Is there something I'm missing? I plan to use my 2 wheeled WIKE trailer so I'm interested.

  7. #7
    Senior Member CGinOhio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HandsomeRyan View Post
    ???
    Is there something I'm missing? I plan to use my 2 wheeled WIKE trailer so I'm interested.
    I don't think you are missing anything. There are a few places where the C&O is like two single tracks separated by a grass strip. A two wheel trailer might have more drag since a wheel might be in the grassy area. The only other concern is mud, but I have no idea if a trailer would be a problem or an asset in mud.

  8. #8
    Pants are for suckaz HandsomeRyan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGinOhio View Post
    I don't think you are missing anything. There are a few places where the C&O is like two single tracks separated by a grass strip. A two wheel trailer might have more drag since a wheel might be in the grassy area. The only other concern is mud, but I have no idea if a trailer would be a problem or an asset in mud.
    Cool. I'll keep thinking about it. The bigger part of me that thinks credit card camping would be simpler and allow us to keep everything we need on the bike but there is another part of me that thinks camping could be fun and add flexibility to the trip. I would prefer not to buy a $300+ BOB trailer when I've got a perfectly good WIKE cargo trailer sitting at home already. Since my wife and I are already a pretty heavy team at almost 500lbs, I really don't want to strap another 50lbs of gear onto the bike directly. At least I've got some time to figure it out before we get going on this.

  9. #9
    Riding Heaven's Highwayson the grand tour
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    We did the Allegeny Passage and C&O from Coropolis (Pittsburgh) at mile marker #0 to DC via Cumberland Md. a couple of years ago. I did it on a cross Bike but was wishing everyday I had our Tandem instead. That ride and the areas covered were some of the most enjoyable time I've spent on a bike.
    The AP was in superior condition (once we workeded our way around Pittsburgh) and that surface could easily have been ridden on 28c or even 25C tires although I did use 32s. We did it in July and had only a little rain and the surfaced remained firm and consistent even in the most remote sections. I highly recommend this section on almost any bikeltandem, just be careful at some of the gates at road crossings because some of them feel a bit narrow and can get a little rutted out. (yes I'm trying to temp you to consider the AP)

    The C&O section is absolutely beautiful and has numerous interesting places to stop and enjoy. Even though you plan to use B&B's, if you change your mind the C&O has many locations where you can camp for the night immediately adjacent to the trail...there is plenty of space to spread out and unlimited water from the pumps at those camping locations.
    The surface of the C&O was pretty good when we did it but there were numerous areas where the surface was rutted, held water, and even presented mud near exposed tree roots and that made the riding a bit dicey at times. At those times I was very glad that I had 32C's with a Cross tread pattern....you should have even less issues with the wide tires you have.
    The C&O also had areas with two narrow'ish tracks to ride in, seperated by a strip of grass which was very picturesque. But that strip of grass must be respected as it took down one of our riders when he lost traction on his front wheel when he tried to cross over from one track to the other. As far as the gates go on this section, unfortunately I can't specifically recall how Tandem friendly they were.
    Lastly, we had some friends that rode the C&O early last year and while they loved the ride, they were quite critical of the condition of portions of the C&O trail....much more so than what I experienced a few years prior. I would suggest that as you do your homework in prep of the ride, place a larger value on trail condition reports of the ride from those that did it in "09 rather than on people like me that did it a couple of years prior.
    Despite the few cautions offered here, I sincerely hope you do the C&O....it is a wonderful ride and can be a great experience through a historic part of our country.
    From what I gather of your enthusiasm, the effort you have already put into your Tandem riding and willingness to do your homework, I think you can absolutely do this ride.
    Your Tandem ?..yes your Cignal can do the ride...it will take a bit more effort than something a little lighter or something a little more rail trail specific...but regardless - it can get it done.
    Four days is plenty of time to do it leasurely and comfortably particularly with all summer to prepare ...just be sure to have your Tandem well maintained, pack wisely-lightly... and go for it. Good Luck

    Bill J.

  10. #10
    Pants are for suckaz HandsomeRyan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by specbill View Post
    We did the Allegeny Passage and C&O from Coropolis (Pittsburgh) at mile marker #0 to DC via Cumberland Md. a couple of years ago...

    ...and go for it. Good Luck
    Great write up and thanks for the encouragement.
    Last edited by HandsomeRyan; 01-31-10 at 05:41 AM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member CGinOhio's Avatar
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    I think you have the requisite for successful C&O tandem trip: A positive can-do attitude (and wide tires) ;-) Fenders are also a very good idea.
    Our journal from our tandem tour of the GAP and C&O from last year might be helpful...
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/CGtour2009

  12. #12
    Pants are for suckaz HandsomeRyan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGinOhio View Post
    Our journal from our tandem tour of the GAP and C&O from last year might be helpful...
    Quite helpful! I have been snowed in for most of the weekend so I read your trail journal yesterday afternoon then again this morning (as your is one of the best I've found for the C&O).

    I'm really getting excited about this trip. I don't think we needed a better excuse than "it's fun" to ride the tandem but if we are training for something it might add a bit of structure to our riding this spring and summer. Since we live pretty close we might be able to do some 'day rides' of a couple sections to test our equipment and get a better [read: first-hand] idea of what we are getting ourselves into.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGinOhio View Post
    Our journal from our tandem tour of the GAP and C&O from last year might be helpful...
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/CGtour2009
    I was very interested in your decision to go with just panniers rather than the Bob trailer. I find that the Burley does not put much weight on the rear wheel and it tows well. My experience with the Burley kid trailer is why I went with the Burley cargo trailer. I am very pleased with the Burley, but like you said, a tandem with a trailer gets a little long to park etc. The two wheels would be an issue on the single track sections of the towpath however. That could be a problem.

    When we tour, I get the "old" bike with clothes for two plus four sleeping bags, four pads, the tent and all cooking equipment and a stoker that "forgets" to pedal. My wife and other son are loaded like they are on a credit card tour. Consequently I am not sure I have space for four sleeping bags on the bike... I will have to think this one over. I guess it comes down to if I can get all the stuff on the bike somehow.

    It looks like both CGinOhio and specbill had a great rides. Thank you both for posting your ride reports and helping others interested in riding it. Very much appreciated.

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