I've decided to postpone my cross country tour to 2009. Too much to do, not enough money to do it, and I need much more experience to ride it.
Meanwhile, as training for the 2009 ride, I'm planning an unsupported trip down the GAP/C & O from Pittsburgh to Washington with a friend of mine. (I won't give his name, but you probably can guess who if you've read enough of my postings.) We are planning on a week, leaving Pittsburgh a Sunday morning in June and arriving tired and happy in Washington DC on the following Saturday. Adventure Cycling has a seven day supported tour that rides seven days in reverse, so we will break and camp at the same campgrounds they use, and generally follow their schedule.
My questions are:
I'm going to get a 36 spoke rear wheel for my Trek 7.5 fx, and knobby tires. I have a carbon fork, and I'd rather not try to get a rack on the front. Can I safely tour with rear panniers and a tent/sleeping back on the back, or have I unbalanced the bike?
I've heard the C & O towpath is rough. Is it too rough for a trailer?
We are planning on switching to the Western Maryland Trail, which is paved and runs parallel to the towpath for 20 some miles. Any other nice parallel routes I should consider to avoid the ruts and bumps of the towpath?
Any estimate on the expenses involved in such a ride? I'm estimating 150 bucks per person for food for the ride. Additional expenses will include probably at least one night in a cabin or motel, simply to get the trail grime off. Also the rental car from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh - we have a ride back from Washington, but there's no simple way to cross PA other than driving. Aside from stuff for the bike, anything else I should consider?