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Old 08-28-08, 07:04 AM   #1
rdubbz
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anyone ride the C&O canal?

I'm thinking of riding the C&O this fall from cumberland to DC. I was wondering if my Trek 7.5fx would be able to do it? I'm going to be getting the biggest tires I can fit on the rim, but am concerned about the low spoke count? How's the condition of that trail?
Thanks.
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Old 08-28-08, 07:18 AM   #2
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I'm thinking of riding the C&O this fall from cumberland to DC. I was wondering if my Trek 7.5fx would be able to do it? I'm going to be getting the biggest tires I can fit on the rim, but am concerned about the low spoke count? How's the condition of that trail?
Thanks.
It's bumpy and rocky, as my 7.5fx would tell you if it could. It rode the trail last week. See "The Historian's Tour - Pittsburgh to ?" in the Clydesdale forum.
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Old 08-28-08, 09:03 AM   #3
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Even dry, the towpath is packed sand with stones, and yes, it can be rough, but your bike shouldn't have a problem.
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Old 08-28-08, 12:14 PM   #4
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You will be fine. You could easily do the ride on 700x28 tires. I think anything pas 700x32 is overkill and will just slow you down.
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Old 08-28-08, 12:22 PM   #5
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You will be fine. You could easily do the ride on 700x28 tires. I think anything pas 700x32 is overkill and will just slow you down.
I beg to disagree. Unless you are a 150-lb biking stud, and/or want to do in excess of 75-80 miles/day, put the cushiest tires you can on it.
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Old 08-28-08, 12:27 PM   #6
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I did it on 700x32s, I had a blast. If I were doing it all over I'd put some semi-knobby 700 tires on.
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Old 08-28-08, 07:54 PM   #7
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Yeah, put on the biggest tires you can and let out some air on the bumpiest sections near DC/Great Falls.

You pulling a trailer or running panniers? A trailer may save your spokes.
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Old 08-29-08, 06:29 AM   #8
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I've been meaning to ask about this exact thing. I'm planning on riding from Cumberland back to DC at the end of September. I have Kenda Kwicks on my Kona Jake and they seem to handle the parts of the canal that I've ridden with no problem (700x30, semi-slick w/decent knobs for cornering/muck). Sure it's a bit bumpy, but I wouldn't expect anything less. I'll be keeping an eye on this thread and will probably post my own asking for suggestions in the next week. And I'll read through the Historian's thread, since that seems to be the most recent one covering the trip (I've read plenty of others). Can't wait to do this!

Actually, any suggestions for car rentals to get up to Cumberland? I know Hertz and Enterprise both have dropoff points up there (unfortunately Avis doesn't--their pickup place is right around the corner from me in DC). Which one is closer to the start of the trail up there?
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Old 08-29-08, 06:34 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the good info. Excellent thread and pictures, Historian. If I use my Trek I think I'll get some semi-knobby as suggested. Just a rack and maybe milk crate (the trailer looks nice, but I don't have). Call me crazy, but if my wife doesn't stop me I may actually buy a salsa la cruz soon and use that for the trip.
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Old 08-29-08, 06:37 AM   #10
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You might want to check out the following if you haven't already:
http://www.bikewashington.org/canal/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/coTowpath/
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Old 08-29-08, 07:36 AM   #11
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Hmmm, been reading the Historian's thread and it does look like he had a fair bit of spoke troubles with his 7.5's wheels. You might want to pick up a few FiberFix spokes for your trip (thanks for the link Tom). Actually, I should probably get a few myself.
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Old 08-29-08, 07:42 AM   #12
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Hmmm, been reading the Historian's thread and it does look like he had a fair bit of spoke troubles with his 7.5's wheels. You might want to pick up a few FiberFix spokes for your trip (thanks for the link Tom). Actually, I should probably get a few myself.
Or get some real spokes and a Unior Cassette *******. Make sure the lock ring isn't overtightened before you go and the cassette ******* will easily remove the cassette to replace drive side outer spokes (those are the ones that fail).
http://harriscyclery.net/itemdetails.cfm?ID=2456

It isn't all that much more trouble to put in real spokes.
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Old 08-29-08, 07:48 AM   #13
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Hmmm, been reading the Historian's thread and it does look like he had a fair bit of spoke troubles with his 7.5's wheels. You might want to pick up a few FiberFix spokes for your trip (thanks for the link Tom). Actually, I should probably get a few myself.
Actually, that's not the wheel that came with the 7.5fx. It was an upgrade, and three shops I stopped at all advised me it was a manufacturer defect. My local shop is treating it as a defective wheel, and I should be getting a replacement.

For the record, I broke 4 spokes on tour, and 2 the week before. Six spokes in two and a half weeks - the wheel is less than 4 months old.
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Old 08-29-08, 07:58 AM   #14
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Historian and staehpj1, thanks for the info. And Neil, congrats on the journey! I think I was down near marker 0 on Sunday about the time you rolled in. Had I been paying attention to this forum I would've congratulated you in person.
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Old 08-29-08, 08:15 AM   #15
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Historian and staehpj1, thanks for the info. And Neil, congrats on the journey! I think I was down near marker 0 on Sunday about the time you rolled in. Had I been paying attention to this forum I would've congratulated you in person.
I recorded 5:10 PM as my arrival time at the marker. I was pushing through the crowd at the boathouse a few minutes earlier - did you see a hefty cyclist with a trailer?
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Old 08-29-08, 08:22 AM   #16
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I recorded 5:10 PM as my arrival time at the marker. I was pushing through the crowd at the boathouse a few minutes earlier - did you see a hefty cyclist with a trailer?
Honestly, I don't remember. I was just piddling around down there at about 5 or 6. I see people loaded up come through just about every time I'm there. You probably rode right past me. But I can tell you I definitely wasn't the "on your left" guy. I use a bell.
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Old 08-29-08, 08:41 AM   #17
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Honestly, I don't remember. I was just piddling around down there at about 5 or 6. I see people loaded up come through just about every time I'm there. You probably rode right past me. But I can tell you I definitely wasn't the "on your left" guy. I use a bell.
That "Sunday cyclist" was a woman on a comfort bike.
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Old 08-29-08, 11:07 AM   #18
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I am heading from Pittsburgh to DC on September 17 or 18 and plan on being in DC on the 21 if anyone is on the trail during that time look me up.

Jason
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Old 08-29-08, 11:31 AM   #19
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Yeah, put on the biggest tires you can and let out some air on the bumpiest sections near DC/Great Falls.

You pulling a trailer or running panniers? A trailer may save your spokes.
DuckFat - I've only ridden the C&O from Georgetown to maybe 5 miles beyond Great Falls. By your comment, is that the roughest section of the whole trail? I'd like to do the whole DC/Pitt tour someday and based on my experience I was getting concerned about being able to do it with my 38 or 35c tires. Maybe they would be OK if it isn't all like that first stretch.
Thanks,
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Old 08-29-08, 12:00 PM   #20
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Yeah, from about mile 30 all the way to Cumberland the trail is smoother. There are some rough patches near Paw Paw but overall I got beat up the most near Great Falls with a lot of washboard surfaces and little golf ball sized rocks all over the trail. Airing down the tires did help quite a bit.

Be sure to find and take the rail trail for the 21 miles from above Hackock to Fort Frederick. The entrance is tricky to find but it's the smoothest surface I have ever biked on.

Last edited by DuckFat; 08-29-08 at 09:27 PM.
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