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Thread: Touring the GAP

  1. #1
    Neil_B
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    Touring the GAP

    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?

  2. #2
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    A lot of old school tourists did it with rear panniers only in the 70's. That used to be how it was done. There can be some handling issues that way though. It also really restricts you weight wise, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    You might look at a frame bag as well, to allow for a bit more carrying capacity.

    Something like this:
    http://www.jandd.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=FFP

    As to the trailer and rough terrain? Remember, I pulled a heavy trailer across the fire roads up in Michigan in sandy conditions with a road touring bike.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  3. #3
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe View Post
    A lot of old school tourists did it with rear panniers only in the 70's. That used to be how it was done. There can be some handling issues that way though. It also really restricts you weight wise, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    You might look at a frame bag as well, to allow for a bit more carrying capacity.

    Something like this:
    http://www.jandd.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=FFP

    As to the trailer and rough terrain? Remember, I pulled a heavy trailer across the fire roads up in Michigan in sandy conditions with a road touring bike.
    Ah, but you are Terrible Tom, the man who isn't afraid of wolves. :-)

    There's a lot of conflicting advice about the towpath. The latest Adventure Cycling recommends mountain bikes for the towpath, for instance. Yet their 2007 ride described at the Bike Washington site mentioned trikes and recumbent tandems completed the ride. And their magazine cover this month shows a trailer being used, even though Bike Washington doesn't recommend them.

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    Ah, but you are Terrible Tom, the man who isn't afraid of wolves. :-)

    There's a lot of conflicting advice about the towpath. The latest Adventure Cycling recommends mountain bikes for the towpath, for instance. Yet their 2007 ride described at the Bike Washington site mentioned trikes and recumbent tandems completed the ride. And their magazine cover this month shows a trailer being used, even though Bike Washington doesn't recommend them.
    Trailers are fine I have seen a few there. The surface is good given a good year and good weather. In that case fairly skinny tires (28mm) on a road bike are fine but given some rain it can become extremely muddy. Since you can't be sure of the weather fatter tires are a good idea.

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    Aging Gearhead
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    I have only limited experience on the C&O, but what little I saw of it was mostly two parallel single tracks with mud puddles and weeds in-between. That leads me to think that a standard 2-wheeled trailer might be, at the least, bothersome. A single wheel (a la BOB) would probably be a perfect fit.

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toodman View Post
    I have only limited experience on the C&O, but what little I saw of it was mostly two parallel single tracks with mud puddles and weeds in-between. That leads me to think that a standard 2-wheeled trailer might be, at the least, bothersome. A single wheel (a la BOB) would probably be a perfect fit.
    That's a fairly accurate observation. I have seen folks manage with two wheeled trailers, but I wouldn't choose one. I did use a one wheeled trailer there and found one problem. There are these walkways that you have to use to get to the trail in Cumberland that were difficult to get bike and trailer through. It was easier to walk them through separately.

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    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    I have pulled an BOB trailer over far rougher terrain than you will encounter on a towpath.

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    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    I was just reading a Crazyguy journal about a trip on the C&O. The author had at least one rainy day. In addition to figuring out how to carry your stuff, you should make sure you've got fenders on the bike.

    Speedo

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    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    My wife toured last summer on her Trek 7.5 WSD over many miles of the crushed limestone canal paths, Hennepin canal, Hennepin Feeder canal and the I & M canal. We did as you did and got her a stronger rear wheel and kept her rear load reasonable. One nice thing about that bike is it will accept larger tires and if you are willing to drop $100 on a front rack, try the Old Man Sherpa. Or for a $100 buy a steel fork and standard front rack as another option if you really need the carrying capacity.

  10. #10
    RPM: 85. MPH: varies. edtrek's Avatar
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    Hi, here's a copy of my Pgh-DC trip report in 2006, and a copy of our Pgh-DC trip report in 2004. (We do it every other year).

    The GAP is a great surface, the C&O is a bit rougher (and it doesn't drain well). You'll have no problem with a one-wheel trailer; you'll regret a two-wheel trailer (I did). The C&O is double-track, and the two wheel trailer was a mistake for me.

    The WMRT is a great alternative. There's a bike shop and a good restaurant when it goes through town. I'm not aware of any other great alternatives.

    Re expenses, somehow I always spend about $40/day in food/gatorade, and $40-$90/day for a room.

    May I mention some details? A fundamental question in 2008 is where you start/stop on the western edge. The GAP is not complete to Pgh. Look at the Great_Allegheny_Passage Yahoo group and ask their advice. Personally, I strongly discourage riding from Pgh to McKeesport. McKeesport is a much better place to start/end your adventure. (The trail should be complete in Oct.2008)

    Check out the maps on http://www.atatrail.org.
    Check out this book: Linking Up: Planning Your Traffic Free Bike Trip Between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC by Mary Shaw, Roy Weil. It's on Amazon for (I think) $5. It's a must-read.

    Best meal along the route IMO is The GI Dayroom in Meyersdale PA.

  11. #11
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by edtrek View Post
    The WMRT is a great alternative. There's a bike shop and a good restaurant when it goes through town. I'm not aware of any other great alternatives.
    I thought I heard that the bike shop in Hancock had closed last year. I hope I am wrong about that because it was a nice place. Anyone know for sure?

  12. #12
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by edtrek View Post
    Hi, here's a copy of my Pgh-DC trip report in 2006, and a copy of our Pgh-DC trip report in 2004. (We do it every other year).

    The GAP is a great surface, the C&O is a bit rougher (and it doesn't drain well). You'll have no problem with a one-wheel trailer; you'll regret a two-wheel trailer (I did). The C&O is double-track, and the two wheel trailer was a mistake for me.

    The WMRT is a great alternative. There's a bike shop and a good restaurant when it goes through town. I'm not aware of any other great alternatives.

    Re expenses, somehow I always spend about $40/day in food/gatorade, and $40-$90/day for a room.

    May I mention some details? A fundamental question in 2008 is where you start/stop on the western edge. The GAP is not complete to Pgh. Look at the Great_Allegheny_Passage Yahoo group and ask their advice. Personally, I strongly discourage riding from Pgh to McKeesport. McKeesport is a much better place to start/end your adventure. (The trail should be complete in Oct.2008)

    Check out the maps on http://www.atatrail.org.
    Check out this book: Linking Up: Planning Your Traffic Free Bike Trip Between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC by Mary Shaw, Roy Weil. It's on Amazon for (I think) $5. It's a must-read.

    Best meal along the route IMO is The GI Dayroom in Meyersdale PA.
    Thanks Ed. With the advice you provide in your tour reports, the Linking Up book, other books on the GAP and C & O by Metzger and High, the Bike Washington and ATA websites, Kordite's weblogs:
    http://www.tasigh.org/gps/bikeblog.html
    and comments here and elsewhere, I've come up with a rough schedule for the ride.

    June 1 - Mckeesport to Connellsville - 43 miles
    June 2 - Ride to Ohioplye, visit to Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob, ride to Rockwood - 55-60 miles (including the rides to the FLW houses.)
    June 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland, 43 miles.
    June 4 - 70 miles to Williamsport, MD
    June 5 - 100 miles to Washington, if we are up to it. If not, we can stay at any campground along the way. Harper's Ferry is 40 miles into the ride.
    June 6 - if we don't complete the century to Washington, finish it today.

    Any comments or suggestions on our plans? I've discussed the idea of trying to ride a century on the trip. My riding companion has never ridden one, and he's open to the idea. But we can skip it if need be.

    On the PA side, I've structured the ride to take advantage of two easily accessible campgrounds in Connellsville and Rockwood, and the visiting hours for Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. That explains the shorter first day mileage. Anything else we should make a special visit to?

    We plan on riding on two paved alternatives on the C & O. One is the Western Maryland Rail Trail, which runs parallel to the C & O for 21 miles. The other is the Bike Washington route through Antietam Battlefield, which will add a few miles to the trip, but get us off the towpath. Any other paved alternatives we should consider?

    We are taking everyone's advice and not starting in Pittsburgh. Our original plans were to drive to Pittsburgh in a rental car, but it would be easier for Neil F. and I to drive in my own car to Washington and be transported to the McKeesport trailhead. Do you have a recommendation for an outfitter, and about how much should we be prepared to spend for the service?

  13. #13
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Just a couple comments regarding the century...
    1. There are not too many options for stopping in the last miles leading into DC so be sure you know where the last stop is so you can decide to go or bail before the point where stops become non existent.
    2. The flatness and rough surface for parts of the route tend to be hard on the butt, so it won't be the easiest century you could do.

    Anyway, I hope you have a great trip.

  14. #14
    Senior Member DuckFat's Avatar
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    I did the trip on a touring bike with a sprung Brooks saddle. The butt was fine but the hands got a lot of vibration on the last parts of the C&O and I lost some feeling. The C&O is bumpiest the last forty miles into DC for some reason.

    It's definitely doable on a touring bike but get knobbier tires and let air out as it gets bumpy. If I were doing it over I'd take my mountain bike though.

    The BOB trailer was perfectly fine on the trip. But a dual wheeled trailer would be awful because there are long sections where the path is dual track with only about 12" width to the track and a dual wheel trailer would bounce too much on the grass on either side of the path.

    Thinks to think about:
    - Fenders are a must have -- It'll be rather wet in June.
    - Don't overpack food, there are lots of stores along the way. There are hand pump wells fro water every 5 miles or so on the C&O so you can unload some water too.
    - Harper's Ferry is worth a few hours stop.
    - Any excursion off the path involves some steep hills.
    - The entrance to the WMRT is hard to find. It's a little dirt road off the trail near an abandoned-looking farm. Look for a newish metal gate and a dirt road going around the barn. The WMRT is a blissful trail.
    - There is little camping near Ohiopyle so your plan to camp before there is a good idea. Don't push on past Connellsville.
    - Earplugs are a good idea because there are active railroads near almost the entire route.
    - Seal up or hang your food at night. Raccoons and skunks are more common than bears but there are those around too.

    Good luck. You'll love the trip, it's very scenic and you may want to add more friends as this is a newbie friendly route.

  15. #15
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by DuckFat View Post
    I did the trip on a touring bike with a sprung Brooks saddle. The butt was fine but the hands got a lot of vibration on the last parts of the C&O and I lost some feeling. The C&O is bumpiest the last forty miles into DC for some reason.

    It's definitely doable on a touring bike but get knobbier tires and let air out as it gets bumpy. If I were doing it over I'd take my mountain bike though.

    The BOB trailer was perfectly fine on the trip. But a dual wheeled trailer would be awful because there are long sections where the path is dual track with only about 12" width to the track and a dual wheel trailer would bounce too much on the grass on either side of the path.

    Thinks to think about:
    - Fenders are a must have -- It'll be rather wet in June.
    - Don't overpack food, there are lots of stores along the way. There are hand pump wells fro water every 5 miles or so on the C&O so you can unload some water too.
    - Harper's Ferry is worth a few hours stop.
    - Any excursion off the path involves some steep hills.
    - The entrance to the WMRT is hard to find. It's a little dirt road off the trail near an abandoned-looking farm. Look for a newish metal gate and a dirt road going around the barn. The WMRT is a blissful trail.
    - There is little camping near Ohiopyle so your plan to camp before there is a good idea. Don't push on past Connellsville.
    - Earplugs are a good idea because there are active railroads near almost the entire route.
    - Seal up or hang your food at night. Raccoons and skunks are more common than bears but there are those around too.

    Good luck. You'll love the trip, it's very scenic and you may want to add more friends as this is a newbie friendly route.
    Thanks. I and Neil F., the fellow I'm riding with - we're the Neils on Wheels Bike Touring Team - read your CrazyGuy journal last night, and I changed the campground to Connellsville based on your bad time at Ohioplye. Also it doesn't make sense to hang around Ohioplye all morning waiting for Fallingwater to open at 10:00 AM.

    Food is going to be more of a problem for Neil F. than me, since he keeps Kosher, but he's started a thread on that subject, and is getting good advice. Should we bring a camp stove?

    I'd love to invite friends, if I had any, but the logistics are a little difficult - I live in a rural area outside Philadelphia, Neil F. lives in Northern New Jersey, and we have a safe place to keep my car for a week in Washington. I don't have room for any other people or any other cars. Also, the more people in a group, the more you have to worry about pacing for all the members. I know a fellow who could ride the entire GAP to Cumberland in one marathon ride - he's not going to be happy hanging with us. Still, it's a good idea.

  16. #16
    Senior Member DuckFat's Avatar
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    Finding true kosher (certified) meals in any restaurant in the area will be very hard or impossible. If you eat in restaurants he'd probably have to be very selective. It would depend on how strict he is about it. Most of the stores are small convenience stores. I don't think you'd need a stove if you can make a campfire but it might be nice to have one if it rains. There is usually dry wood available. It looked to me like they actually dump dead trees at the campsites on the C&O.

  17. #17
    Senior Moment Member jagraham's Avatar
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    Oh Geez, started working on this before I left for work, didn't see the post about keeping kosher. Western PA -- where everything is served with a side of pork. I'd make sure to bring a stove. Do you need info on Supermarkets? You know, places to buy REAL food (as opposed to convenience stores).

    I've ridden the trails on a Trek Navigator, a Novara Randonnee, and Libby has used an MTB without knobby tires. No problem on any bike. We've also used a two-wheeled trailer, a BoB and just panniers on various trips.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    Thanks Ed. With the advice you provide in your tour reports, the Linking Up book, other books on the GAP and C & O by Metzger and High, the Bike Washington and ATA websites, Kordite's weblogs:
    http://www.tasigh.org/gps/bikeblog.html
    and comments here and elsewhere, I've come up with a rough schedule for the ride.
    All good sources of info. Another good read you might try to find "184 Miles of Adventure" (http://www.patc.us/store/XX250.htm). It's a nice paperback guide, only 48 pages, and provides a wealth of info you can easily tuck into a trunk or handlebar bag. Some people print out the maps that are on the bikewashington and atatrail websites.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    June 1 - Mckeesport to Connellsville - 43 miles
    The River's Edge Campground. Libby and her friend Gooby liked staying there. There's a pool. It wasn't too expensive, although we were charged the group rate of $5 per person; we were a larger group and paid more than a regular campsite. Bring shower shoes... the showers were not in the best of shape. There are washers/dryers on site. (OK - I'm a mom and I travel with kids).


    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    June 2 - Ride to Ohiopyle, visit to Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob, ride to Rockwood - 55-60 miles (including the rides to the FLW houses.)
    Frank Lloyd Wright fan, eh? Are you just doing the general public tours or any of the other (in-depth) tours. Tickets for the regular tour at Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob run $18 each if you order online ($16+$2 service fee) and are available up until 9am of the day of the tour. For the special tours, reservations need to be made 48 hours in advance. They say to allow two hours per tour. What they don't tell you is Fallingwater is 4.5 miles to the north from Ohiopyle (and uphill on a shoulderless PA road); and Kentuck Knob is about 5.5 miles to the south. The auto directions are "Go south on 381 through Ohio Pyle for 4 miles. Turn right at the state park sign across the Meadow Run Bridge. Follow winding road up a steep hill for 1.5 miles. Turn left at the intersection. Kentuck Knob is located .08 miles on the left." It *IS* a steep hill. RVs and busses are discouraged from using this route (can't remember if they are prohibited though). My car had a hard time on this hill. [shakes head... KILLER hill]

    I think you‘re a little optimistic about your mileage for the day. Adelaide to Connellsville is about 2 miles, Connellsville to Ohiopyle is 18, Ohiopyle to Fallingwater and back is 9, Ohiopyle to Kentuck Knob and back is 11 miles and Ohiopyle to Husky Haven in Rockwood is 30 -- total would be more like 70, plus about 4 hours or so taking the tours. You could probably shave off a few miles by heading up the Kentuck Trail (MTB/hiking trail) before you get to the town of Ohiopyle, but everyone I’ve spoken to have regretted trying to get their loaded bikes up to the campground. The other thing is, although it is barely discernable (only 1-2% grade), you are headed uphill the entire trip from Connellsville to the Eastern Continental Divide. I don’t ever remember coasting on that section (in other words, continuous pedaling).

    I have an idea though... you can pm me when you firm up your plans. I've got a Chevy Suburban, and can put on the hitch rack. I'll be more than happy to SAG you to the Wright houses if you plan on doing the tours. If you run out of time, you could probably stay at the State Park... camping in Confluence is 11 miles from Ohiopyle. Your destination (Husky Haven) in Rockwood is 30 miles from Ohiopyle.

    Oh, and if the weather's hot you may want to visit the bum slide at Meadow Run (
    http://www.naturalwaterslide.com/pho...album=9&pos=41) -- here’s a map of Ohiopyle State Park -- look for the area marked “slide”: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/statepar...opyle_mini.PDF (this is a very large PDF file)


    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    June 3 - Rockwood to Cumberland, 43 miles.
    Quite do-able. The last 18 miles are known as the “Cumberland Glide”. You just coast into town. You could even start your day at Confluence, 19 miles upstream. Camp at the Outflow Campground (ask for the hiker/biker site - $6 per person) and freshen up with a warm shower. Head into town to Sister’s Café or get ice cream at Suder’s Soft Freeze, just outside the campground entrance. Don’t forget to stop at the GI Dayroom in Meyersdale. Remember to use lights in the Borden and Brush tunnels, and it is advise that you walk your bikes through these two (and the Paw Paw tunnel on the C&O)

    Where will you be staying in Cumberland? If you camp at the YMCA, bring earplugs (bring them anyway) because you will be camped *very close* to an active rail line. As a matter of fact, both trails are across river from active rail lines for most of the distance.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    June 4 - 70 miles to Williamsport, MD
    Yep, save your butt and take the paved WMRT. You may miss the Round Top Cement Mill ruins, but your butt will thank you. Walk your bikes through the Paw Paw tunnel, please. It’s darker in there than it appears, and the towpath isn’t very wide to pass people coming from the opposite direction. Stop in at Bill’s Place in Little Orleans to leave a dollar bill for the ceiling… have a beer as well. Stop in at Fort Frederick and tell the re-enactors “hello”.

    I assume you’re staying at the Red Roof Inn? We’ve always been treated well there. There is a single washer and a single dryer there (but there is a Laundromat in town next to the pizza place on Conococheague Street (Rte. 68) next to the pizza place.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    June 5 - 100 miles to Washington, if we are up to it. If not, we can stay at any campground along the way. Harper's Ferry is 40 miles into the ride.
    You’ll have to ride the dreaded mile 84-88 road detour. I didn’t find it all that bad, (my daughter thinks otherwise) but some people have had problems with the recreational boaters using more than their fair share of the roadway. It can be hot and miserable in the summer. One year we rode directly to Sharpsburg (Antietam Battlefield) via Rtes 68 and 65 from Williamsport. Libby prefers the towpath, but she handled the road well (for an 11 year old).

    100 miles is a long day on the towpath., and longer if you visit the battlefield and take a side trip into Harper’s Ferry. How fast were you planning to travel fully loaded? I think I’d break up the day, and save the century for a road trip. If you go into Harper’s Ferry, take the spiral staircase up to the bike/pedestrian bridge. Stay off of US340. The staircase is a real bytch, but we’ve always had people offer to help us carry gear (and bikes).

    If you don’t make your century, Swain’s Lock is the last available campsite at mile 16.6. There was a concession stand there that was run by the Swain family, but two years ago it closed. Then there’s Horsepen Branch H/B at mile 26, Chisel Branch H/B at 30.5 and Turtle Run H/B at 34.5 (miles from DC). White’s Ferry is at milepost 35.5 and is the last operating ferry on the Potomac ($1 per bike)


    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    June 6 - if we don't complete the century to Washington, finish it today.

    Any comments or suggestions on our plans? I've discussed the idea of trying to ride a century on the trip. My riding companion has never ridden one, and he's open to the idea. But we can skip it if need be.

    On the PA side, I've structured the ride to take advantage of two easily accessible campgrounds in Connellsville and Rockwood, and the visiting hours for Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. That explains the shorter first day mileage. Anything else we should make a special visit to?

    We plan on riding on two paved alternatives on the C & O. One is the Western Maryland Rail Trail, which runs parallel to the C & O for 21 miles. The other is the Bike Washington route through Antietam Battlefield, which will add a few miles to the trip, but get us off the towpath. Any other paved alternatives we should consider? .
    Special visits - of course I have suggestions, but you only have 6 days. Maybe you could take a couple of extra days your next trip.

    As far as other roads - if you choose not to visit Antietam, you can pick up Canal Road at Md. Rte. 34 (the road that crosses the river and goes into Shepardstown, WV). Canal Road runs parallel to the towpath and terminates about 3 miles downstream at the Antietam Creek campsite. You can re-enter the towpath here. It appears you can take Harper’s Ferry Road to Limekiln Road and Limekiln will run parallel (more or less) to the park borders, the take a right onto Mtn. Lock Canal Road to get back to the towpath. I haven’t tried this yet (maybe I will this summer).

    Another alternative is to jump off at White’s Ferry and ride into Leesburg and catch the W&OD trail. I understand it is crowded at the DC end, though. You could plan an overnight in a motel in Leesburg ($100+/night), and call for a motel shuttle to run you to your motel. Then pick up the W&OD or return back to the towpath. The BikeWashington site has info on the W&OD.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    We are taking everyone's advice and not starting in Pittsburgh. Our original plans were to drive to Pittsburgh in a rental car, but it would be easier for Neil F. and I to drive in my own car to Washington and be transported to the McKeesport trailhead. Do you have a recommendation for an outfitter, and about how much should we be prepared to spend for the service?
    I’ve heard nothing but good reports about Freedom Trail Riders Shuttle & Delivery Service in Cumberland, MD 21502 (phone) 301-707-6097 (http://www.freedomtrailriders.com/)

    Enjoy your trip!

    Judy

  18. #18
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by jagraham View Post
    Oh Geez, started working on this before I left for work, didn't see the post about keeping kosher. Western PA -- where everything is served with a side of pork. I'd make sure to bring a stove. Do you need info on Supermarkets? You know, places to buy REAL food (as opposed to convenience stores).

    I've ridden the trails on a Trek Navigator, a Novara Randonnee, and Libby has used an MTB without knobby tires. No problem on any bike. We've also used a two-wheeled trailer, a BoB and just panniers on various trips.
    Thanks. Neil F. says he should be able to find something to eat out in the unKosher wilderness of western PA. He's riding an 80's MTB fitted for touring, I'm riding a 2008 Trek 7.5 with knobby tires and a trailer.

    Quote Originally Posted by jagraham View Post
    All good sources of info. Another good read you might try to find "184 Miles of Adventure" (http://www.patc.us/store/XX250.htm). It's a nice paperback guide, only 48 pages, and provides a wealth of info you can easily tuck into a trunk or handlebar bag. Some people print out the maps that are on the bikewashington and atatrail websites.
    I'll look that book up.

    Quote Originally Posted by jagraham View Post
    The River's Edge Campground. Libby and her friend Gooby liked staying there. There's a pool. It wasn't too expensive, although we were charged the group rate of $5 per person; we were a larger group and paid more than a regular campsite. Bring shower shoes... the showers were not in the best of shape. There are washers/dryers on site. (OK - I'm a mom and I travel with kids).
    It seems like a nice place from the description. Perfect for a first night on the trail.


    Quote Originally Posted by jagraham View Post
    Frank Lloyd Wright fan, eh? Are you just doing the general public tours or any of the other (in-depth) tours. Tickets for the regular tour at Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob run $18 each if you order online ($16+$2 service fee) and are available up until 9am of the day of the tour. For the special tours, reservations need to be made 48 hours in advance. They say to allow two hours per tour. What they don't tell you is Fallingwater is 4.5 miles to the north from Ohiopyle (and uphill on a shoulderless PA road); and Kentuck Knob is about 5.5 miles to the south. The auto directions are "Go south on 381 through Ohio Pyle for 4 miles. Turn right at the state park sign across the Meadow Run Bridge. Follow winding road up a steep hill for 1.5 miles. Turn left at the intersection. Kentuck Knob is located .08 miles on the left." It *IS* a steep hill. RVs and busses are discouraged from using this route (can't remember if they are prohibited though). My car had a hard time on this hill. [shakes head... KILLER hill]

    I think you‘re a little optimistic about your mileage for the day. Adelaide to Connellsville is about 2 miles, Connellsville to Ohiopyle is 18, Ohiopyle to Fallingwater and back is 9, Ohiopyle to Kentuck Knob and back is 11 miles and Ohiopyle to Husky Haven in Rockwood is 30 -- total would be more like 70, plus about 4 hours or so taking the tours. You could probably shave off a few miles by heading up the Kentuck Trail (MTB/hiking trail) before you get to the town of Ohiopyle, but everyone I’ve spoken to have regretted trying to get their loaded bikes up to the campground. The other thing is, although it is barely discernable (only 1-2% grade), you are headed uphill the entire trip from Connellsville to the Eastern Continental Divide. I don’t ever remember coasting on that section (in other words, continuous pedaling).

    I have an idea though... you can pm me when you firm up your plans. I've got a Chevy Suburban, and can put on the hitch rack. I'll be more than happy to SAG you to the Wright houses if you plan on doing the tours. If you run out of time, you could probably stay at the State Park... camping in Confluence is 11 miles from Ohiopyle. Your destination (Husky Haven) in Rockwood is 30 miles from Ohiopyle.

    Oh, and if the weather's hot you may want to visit the bum slide at Meadow Run (
    http://www.naturalwaterslide.com/pho...album=9&pos=41) -- here’s a map of Ohiopyle State Park -- look for the area marked “slide”: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/statepar...opyle_mini.PDF (this is a very large PDF file)
    I thought we'd do the general tours of the houses. We'll take you up on your offer of transport. You are very kind.


    Quote Originally Posted by jagraham View Post
    Quite do-able. The last 18 miles are known as the “Cumberland Glide”. You just coast into town. You could even start your day at Confluence, 19 miles upstream. Camp at the Outflow Campground (ask for the hiker/biker site - $6 per person) and freshen up with a warm shower. Head into town to Sister’s Café or get ice cream at Suder’s Soft Freeze, just outside the campground entrance. Don’t forget to stop at the GI Dayroom in Meyersdale. Remember to use lights in the Borden and Brush tunnels, and it is advise that you walk your bikes through these two (and the Paw Paw tunnel on the C&O)

    Where will you be staying in Cumberland? If you camp at the YMCA, bring earplugs (bring them anyway) because you will be camped *very close* to an active rail line. As a matter of fact, both trails are across river from active rail lines for most of the distance.
    We were planning on the YMCA, but perhaps after a couple of night camping a hotel might be nice. I understand the Best Western in Braddock will shuttle us.

    Quote Originally Posted by jagraham View Post
    Yep, save your butt and take the paved WMRT. You may miss the Round Top Cement Mill ruins, but your butt will thank you. Walk your bikes through the Paw Paw tunnel, please. It’s darker in there than it appears, and the towpath isn’t very wide to pass people coming from the opposite direction. Stop in at Bill’s Place in Little Orleans to leave a dollar bill for the ceiling… have a beer as well. Stop in at Fort Frederick and tell the re-enactors “hello”.

    I assume you’re staying at the Red Roof Inn? We’ve always been treated well there. There is a single washer and a single dryer there (but there is a Laundromat in town next to the pizza place on Conococheague Street (Rte. 68) next to the pizza place.
    We will be crashing in a friend's basement.

    Quote Originally Posted by jagraham View Post
    You’ll have to ride the dreaded mile 84-88 road detour. I didn’t find it all that bad, (my daughter thinks otherwise) but some people have had problems with the recreational boaters using more than their fair share of the roadway. It can be hot and miserable in the summer. One year we rode directly to Sharpsburg (Antietam Battlefield) via Rtes 68 and 65 from Williamsport. Libby prefers the towpath, but she handled the road well (for an 11 year old).

    100 miles is a long day on the towpath., and longer if you visit the battlefield and take a side trip into Harper’s Ferry. How fast were you planning to travel fully loaded? I think I’d break up the day, and save the century for a road trip. If you go into Harper’s Ferry, take the spiral staircase up to the bike/pedestrian bridge. Stay off of US340. The staircase is a real bytch, but we’ve always had people offer to help us carry gear (and bikes).

    If you don’t make your century, Swain’s Lock is the last available campsite at mile 16.6. There was a concession stand there that was run by the Swain family, but two years ago it closed. Then there’s Horsepen Branch H/B at mile 26, Chisel Branch H/B at 30.5 and Turtle Run H/B at 34.5 (miles from DC). White’s Ferry is at milepost 35.5 and is the last operating ferry on the Potomac ($1 per bike)
    Neil F. made me come to my senses and drop our plans for a 100 mile day. Besides, why hurry over the trail? Isn't that what we came for?

    Quote Originally Posted by jagraham View Post
    Special visits - of course I have suggestions, but you only have 6 days. Maybe you could take a couple of extra days your next trip.

    As far as other roads - if you choose not to visit Antietam, you can pick up Canal Road at Md. Rte. 34 (the road that crosses the river and goes into Shepardstown, WV). Canal Road runs parallel to the towpath and terminates about 3 miles downstream at the Antietam Creek campsite. You can re-enter the towpath here. It appears you can take Harper’s Ferry Road to Limekiln Road and Limekiln will run parallel (more or less) to the park borders, the take a right onto Mtn. Lock Canal Road to get back to the towpath. I haven’t tried this yet (maybe I will this summer).

    Another alternative is to jump off at White’s Ferry and ride into Leesburg and catch the W&OD trail. I understand it is crowded at the DC end, though. You could plan an overnight in a motel in Leesburg ($100+/night), and call for a motel shuttle to run you to your motel. Then pick up the W&OD or return back to the towpath. The BikeWashington site has info on the W&OD.
    Interesting. Perhaps I should consider alternatives such as this. I'd love to spend more time, but I have limited vacation time to use for the trip. Also Neil F. will probably be missing his wife something fierce by then. She'll be in Washington to drive us back.

    Quote Originally Posted by jagraham View Post
    I’ve heard nothing but good reports about Freedom Trail Riders Shuttle & Delivery Service in Cumberland, MD 21502 (phone) 301-707-6097 (http://www.freedomtrailriders.com/)

    Enjoy your trip!

    Judy
    Judy, we will. We've backed off the idea of using an outfitter. We're back to driving six hours to Pittsburgh in a rented van.

  19. #19
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jagraham View Post
    Oh Geez, started working on this before I left for work, didn't see the post about keeping kosher. Western PA -- where everything is served with a side of pork. I'd make sure to bring a stove. Do you need info on Supermarkets? You know, places to buy REAL food (as opposed to convenience stores).
    Judy, I was planning to use google maps to find the locations of supermarkets near the trail, and then program them into my GPS. Unless such a thing already exists somewhere?
    Tour Journals, Blog, ride pix

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  20. #20
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by jagraham View Post

    I've ridden the trails on a Trek Navigator...
    Did you use a Navigator for the whole thing? All the way to DC? I'm debating which bike to bring. My 7.5 fx has 32 cm tires, and I've been having problems sinking into gravel and dirt trails. I don't know if it's a matter of the ground being too soft because it's spring, or because the tires are too narrow and I am too heavy.

  21. #21
    Senior Moment Member jagraham's Avatar
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    Neil -

    I rode my Navigator all through 2004, '05 and '06. It handled the C&O very well and was a joy to ride. It's a little slow and cumbersome to take on the road, so in late 2006 I bought a Novara Randonnee. It has 700x32 tires. I loaned my Navigator to my daughter's friend, Gooby, and she hauled the trailer with the girl's gear in it... until the girls met some teen-aged boys full of energy and then *they* hauled the trailer.

    Anyway, I digress.

    I like the Randonnee, and I like my Navigator. The Randonnee because I could load most of the gear for Libby and me in panniers and not have to worry about a trailer; the Navigator because it could handle anything the trails could dish out and was stable. I lost it twice last year - once near Cumberland in some grass on a hill, and once on the detour on a gravel road. I discovered that unlike the Navigator, the Randonnee isn't a tank and you can't just plow through obstacles, but it was a nice ride too. (I did lose it with the Navigator in 2004... around Dickerson when I hit a nasty mud puddle (actually a four mile stretch of mud puddles) and landed face-first into a patch of stinging nettles). We hit a dry spell in mid-to-late July last year when we did our trip. I don't know how 32cm tires would handle mud puddles, I guess pretty much like the Randonnee handled loose gravel - not too well, not very stable.

    For the most part, I found that the puddles are not bottomless and *usually* if you steer into the center of them, it's not as mucky as trying to steer around them.

    As far as being heavy - my guess is that you and I are near the same weight range, but my vote is "because it's spring and the ground is too soft".

    Judy

  22. #22
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by jagraham View Post
    Neil -

    I rode my Navigator all through 2004, '05 and '06. It handled the C&O very well and was a joy to ride. It's a little slow and cumbersome to take on the road, so in late 2006 I bought a Novara Randonnee. It has 700x32 tires. I loaned my Navigator to my daughter's friend, Gooby, and she hauled the trailer with the girl's gear in it... until the girls met some teen-aged boys full of energy and then *they* hauled the trailer.

    Anyway, I digress.

    I like the Randonnee, and I like my Navigator. The Randonnee because I could load most of the gear for Libby and me in panniers and not have to worry about a trailer; the Navigator because it could handle anything the trails could dish out and was stable. I lost it twice last year - once near Cumberland in some grass on a hill, and once on the detour on a gravel road. I discovered that unlike the Navigator, the Randonnee isn't a tank and you can't just plow through obstacles, but it was a nice ride too. (I did lose it with the Navigator in 2004... around Dickerson when I hit a nasty mud puddle (actually a four mile stretch of mud puddles) and landed face-first into a patch of stinging nettles). We hit a dry spell in mid-to-late July last year when we did our trip. I don't know how 32cm tires would handle mud puddles, I guess pretty much like the Randonnee handled loose gravel - not too well, not very stable.

    For the most part, I found that the puddles are not bottomless and *usually* if you steer into the center of them, it's not as mucky as trying to steer around them.

    As far as being heavy - my guess is that you and I are near the same weight range, but my vote is "because it's spring and the ground is too soft".

    Judy
    Hi Judy,

    What was your daily mileage with the Navigator, and did you fit all your gear on the bike? Did you have a front rack on the bike?

  23. #23
    Senior Member lighthorse's Avatar
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    Historian,
    Even though I have used the C&O Towpath inside the D.C. beltway as a running path for years, I have no particular information on the rest of the trip. I will only comment on two of your points.
    a. "...and I need more experience to ride it." As long as you take the time to train before you depart on a cross country trip, you don't need any special additional experience. Just do it. I completed the Southern Tier solo unsupported with zero experience. On a road bike. With two panniers. And the trip was great.
    b. I only tour with two panniers. It works fine.
    Good luck and have a good ride.
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  24. #24
    Avoid trauma Lake_Tom's Avatar
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    The C&O Towpath is more like "pounded peat" than like a contemporary graveled rail trail built by a park district. A friend of mine crashed on a remote section of that towpath when he rode through a pothole disguised under a path of leaves. Gashed his hand.

    If I was riding through Ohiopyle, I would stop at the gravel apron and watch the kayakers surf at Swimmer's Hole on the lower Yough. It is a few miles downstream from Ohiopyle (before you get to town). The park marks each rapid with posts with two letter designations. Look for SH (I think). It is the only gravel apron I recall. You will have to leave your bicycle and trundle down the slope to watch the boats. There's a lot on weekends and many fewer on weekdays.

    If I were in Ohiopyle, I would go see the waterfall. I would not like riding off the trail there. That is where the Youghiogheny River cuts through Chestnut Mountain and Laurel Mountain and all the roads are steep and twisty. The drivers are not the best. There is a new motel in Ohiopyle and rooms at Falls Market. The campground at Confluence is nice.

    The only bad segment of the Allegheny Highlands Trail is at the Pinkerton Notch before Rockwood--rough gravel. The view out of Savage Mountain tunnel over the Cumberland Gap is magnifico. They even put up park benches so you can stay a while. I have seen some people pitch a tent at the tunnel. I could dig watching the sunset and sunrise from there. A lot.
    I smell the spring in the smoky wind.

  25. #25
    Senior Moment Member jagraham's Avatar
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    Neil -

    The short version -
    If I would have mounted a front rack on the Navigator, we wouldn't have used the trailer(s). The first couple of years we traveled "heavy/bulky". I usually limit my rides to 30 miles per day max on rail/trails. That's just my comfort level, and for us, the journey is the objective -- not the destination. I'm sure if you divy up the gear between you and your evil twin (or are you the evil twin?) you could get by just using the Navigator with rear panniers. I've done many overnight/weekend sections and haven't had a problem breaking spokes, if that's one of your concerns.


    The long version (and waaaay more info you could possibly care about)--
    Up until 2004 I had done mostly day trips along the C&O canal and sections of the GAP. In 2004 we borrowed a used kid's trailer (I also had things shoved in two panniers), and we started a mother/daughter tradition of riding down the canal towpath. Libby was 10, so I carried all of the gear. We planned on 15-20 miles per day, with activities to keep her occupied. Our shortest day riding was the first day when the trailer suffered a catatrophic failure and had to be put out of it's (and our) misery. It lasted all of 9 miles... Our longest day that year was 28 miles from Little Orleans Campground to Fort Frederick.

    OK - a little about me. I am very overwight, and have had total knee replacements in both knees. I am also blessed with having epilepsy due to head trauma after a major auto accident. There's a medical device implanted in my chest wall called a vagus nerve stimulator that connects to the vagus nerve leading to my brain. It is used as an adjunct therapy with medication. When I am active it also interferes with my breathing... every 5 minutes, without fail, 24/7, unless I choose to temporarily disable it. I didn't the first trip out, but do now. My longest day riding was just over 50 miles when Libby and I rode with a boy scout troop (2006). It was a long day for me, and I just didn't enjoy it. I do much better when I don't have to make it to a certain place at a specific time.

    We traveled heavy that first (and second) year. We referred to the cargo trailer as our "RV"... used a three person dome tent, carried MREs that first year, fishing rods and tackle (in 2005 I even brought my mandolin), heavy self-inflating mattresses. I could not have made it without the trailer, our gear was big and bulky. The Navigator and trailer setup worked well... I also had a rack trunk and handlebar bag.

    I started taking weekend trips on the canal and GAP, usually alone -- Meyersdale to Confluence, Confluence to Connellsville was (and still is) one of my favorite trips -- in 30 mile chunks. When Libby and I ride this section, we ditch the trailer, and fit our gear into rear panniers and rack trunks. (We've gotten better about bringing everything but the kitchen sink, but still take some fishing gear lashed onto the bikes) She uses a basket instead of a handlebar bag. I thought about getting a rack for a front suspension bike (Old Man Mountain?) but the opportunity arose to get the Randonnee, and I jumped at it.

    We've lightened up our gear somewhat, but we still go as comfortably as we can. The self-inflating pads were replaced with Big Agnes Insulated Air Core mats, I now use a down bag, the 3-man dome tent was replaced with a Eureka Zeus 2 Exo (a single wall backpacking tent that I had condensation problems with), then hammocks, then a cheap ALPS Mounteering tent. We took the hammocks in 2006, but there weren't satisfactory trees in some of the hiker/bikers (big diameter, far apart). Fortunately for us we had stowed the Zeus in the SAG wagon. Oh, and we no longer carry MREs... except one for an emergency meal.

    BTW - have you resolved your stove dilemma, and do you need any other gear?

    Judy
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