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Old 09-04-08, 12:49 PM   #1
Maro
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GAP and C&O Trails: What tires?

Hello,
I plan to go on GAP and C&O Trails. Drive to Pittsburgh, leave the car there, and return on the same trail. Loaded touring. I may have close to two weeks.

I intend to use my mountain bike. What tires shall I use? I used 26x1.25 slicks, with no problems, but on the road only. What will be fast and reliable on those gravel trails? and hold for >700 miles?
I would hate to have to use fat mountain bike tires.

Are there bike shops around the trails? how is the weather there end of sept / begin oct?
Any suggestion of any kind will be appreciated, as I do not know the area.

Thank You,
Marius.
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Old 09-04-08, 06:31 PM   #2
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The C&O is rather bumpy now and there was a lot of mud last weekend. I'd go with a wider tire if possible and get some with a bit of tread. You won't need two weeks but take your time and enjoy yourself.
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Old 09-04-08, 07:04 PM   #3
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I rode the c&o on 32's and didn't have any problems. Cyclocross type tires would be great since you talking about 98% of road. Live in the area and have some insight on the area close to pittsburgh. Let me know if you have any other questions.

monkd
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Old 09-04-08, 10:07 PM   #4
Neil_B
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Originally Posted by Maro View Post
Hello,
I plan to go on GAP and C&O Trails. Drive to Pittsburgh, leave the car there, and return on the same trail. Loaded touring. I may have close to two weeks.

I intend to use my mountain bike. What tires shall I use? I used 26x1.25 slicks, with no problems, but on the road only. What will be fast and reliable on those gravel trails? and hold for >700 miles?
I would hate to have to use fat mountain bike tires.

Are there bike shops around the trails? how is the weather there end of sept / begin oct?
Any suggestion of any kind will be appreciated, as I do not know the area.

Thank You,
Marius.
I rode the GAP twice and C & O once and a half. 32s were fine, although cyclecross tires might have been better. The C & O is very rough in spots, and the GAP has some rough patches in Ohiopyle State Park.

There are bike shops in DC, Shepardstown WV, Hancock MD, Cumberland MD, Rockwood PA, Connellsville PA, West Newton PA, and Pittsburgh. (These are legit bike shops, not rental places or outfitters.) Don't trust the ATA's Trailbook for information, since they accept advertising for shops that in fact are not open at the time of publication.
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Old 09-04-08, 10:21 PM   #5
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I've got a question......where's a good place to park a minivan for a couple of weeks that is secure?
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I rode the c&o on 32's and didn't have any problems. Cyclocross type tires would be great since you talking about 98% of road. Live in the area and have some insight on the area close to pittsburgh. Let me know if you have any other questions.

monkd
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Old 09-04-08, 10:43 PM   #6
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I've got a question......where's a good place to park a minivan for a couple of weeks that is secure?
McKeesport has a municipal parking lot that's patrolled, but it's 4 bucks a day. Ohiopyle State Park has just opened a free long-term parking lot. There's also free parking in Cumberland, MD.
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Old 09-05-08, 02:57 PM   #7
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GAP: weather, camping, food etc.

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Originally Posted by monkd View Post
I rode the c&o on 32's and didn't have any problems. Cyclocross type tires would be great since you talking about 98% of road. Live in the area and have some insight on the area close to pittsburgh. Let me know if you have any other questions.

monkd
Thanks for the reply.
How is the weather there end of sept / begin Oct ?
Can i expect like two weeks of rain , or.... Low minimum temp?
I know on the Erie canal there are lots of campgrounds, serviced or not.
What about the GAP, from Pittsburght to Cumberland?
Do I need to plan camping or accomodation in advance or (better!) just ride and fins something in the evening? Any problem with food and water?

Long term parking in Pittsburg, as I do not think it will be boring to ride the trail twice: Pittsburgh to DC and back!

Thks,
Marius
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Old 09-05-08, 03:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maro View Post
Thanks for the reply.
How is the weather there end of sept / begin Oct ?
Can i expect like two weeks of rain , or.... Low minimum temp?
I know on the Erie canal there are lots of campgrounds, serviced or not.
What about the GAP, from Pittsburght to Cumberland?
Do I need to plan camping or accomodation in advance or (better!) just ride and fins something in the evening? Any problem with food and water?

Long term parking in Pittsburg, as I do not think it will be boring to ride the trail twice: Pittsburgh to DC and back!

Thks,
Marius
That would be towards the end of hurricane season, although this year seems pretty active so you could have copious rain (and mud ) Could be cold, could be hot.

Camping along the GAP is pretty much limited to established campgrounds and state parks, with 10 - 15 miles between them. Most have full services available. The C&O offers free hiker/biker sites every 5-8 miles with water and port-a-potties, in addition to commercial camps near towns. So a little more planning for the GAP, but I shouldn't think that you'll need reservations.

I rode all of the C&O and about half of the GAP and was able to buy food every day. Water at the hiker bikers below mile 30 on the C&O was an issue. If a pump fails the weekly water quality test the NPS removes the pump handle. All of the hiker bikers between Georgetown and mile 30 were without handles. I also flew by the seat of my pants as far as camping and food stops.

The surface of the GAP is general smoother than the C&O, in my opinion the worst of the GAP is about the same as the average for the C&O. Both have rough sections.

I rode on 700cx35 (37) cyclocross tires and they were fine - those would equate to just over 1.25 in width. A little tread helps keep the tire from sliding sideways along the edge of puddles.

You should see less traffic than I did, by then you may have a lot of alone time during the week.


Good Luck and Good Journey

Doug

Last edited by dcullen; 09-05-08 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 09-05-08, 09:31 PM   #9
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The weather will be mild night time temps could be in the fourties and daytime could be 70's. That time of year is general great for cycling. The GAP from Pittsburgh to Cumberland does not have as many camping options but, there are enough to get you through. Here is a pretty good website that will help with that part of your planning. I would make sure that you took some food with you.

http://shaw-weil.com/linkup/

As far as food is concerned, there are places to stop on the GAP but, I recently had to ride quite a bit further than I wanted to without eating lunch. (Maybe it's just me)

There is an interesting parking option in Robinson township. It's an airport offsite parking facility and it's right on the Montour Run Trail which you can link up to the GAP in Mckeesport. The montour run trail has an interesting train trestle, something you don't find everywhere.

http://www.montourtrail.org/

Another option would be to go from Weirton, WV Panhandle Trail -> Montour Run Trail -> GAP -> C&O.

http://www.panhandletrail.org/

For that matter you could start at my house in St. Clairsville, OH and take historic National Road (40) to Wheeling, WV (about 13 miles) take the Wheeling Heritage bike trail north for 10 miles, ride about 20 miles on Route 2 to Weirton then hop on the the trails listed above then big, bang, boom your in Washington D.C.

http://www.wheelingheritagetrail.com/

Even St. Clairsville has a neat little bike trail that only 2.6 miles but, it has a tunnel and a bridge. I think its the only one in ohio with both.

http://www.ohiobikeways.net/national.htm

A couple of things to think about.
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Old 09-05-08, 10:01 PM   #10
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That would be towards the end of hurricane season, although this year seems pretty active so you could have copious rain (and mud ) Could be cold, could be hot.

Camping along the GAP is pretty much limited to established campgrounds and state parks, with 10 - 15 miles between them. Most have full services available. The C&O offers free hiker/biker sites every 5-8 miles with water and port-a-potties, in addition to commercial camps near towns. So a little more planning for the GAP, but I shouldn't think that you'll need reservations.

I rode all of the C&O and about half of the GAP and was able to buy food every day. Water at the hiker bikers below mile 30 on the C&O was an issue. If a pump fails the weekly water quality test the NPS removes the pump handle. All of the hiker bikers between Georgetown and mile 30 were without handles. I also flew by the seat of my pants as far as camping and food stops.

The surface of the GAP is general smoother than the C&O, in my opinion the worst of the GAP is about the same as the average for the C&O. Both have rough sections.

I rode on 700cx35 (37) cyclocross tires and they were fine - those would equate to just over 1.25 in width. A little tread helps keep the tire from sliding sideways along the edge of puddles.

You should see less traffic than I did, by then you may have a lot of alone time during the week.


Good Luck and Good Journey

Doug
During my trip two weeks ago the 'dry' spot on the C & O was from about mile 45 to mile 30. Unfortunately, I wound up camping at a site without a working pump.
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Old 09-07-08, 08:02 PM   #11
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http://pitstopparking.com/index.htm It's at about mile 7 on the montour trail and right off 376 at mountour run
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Old 09-08-08, 02:57 PM   #12
Maro
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Ohiopyle State Park free long-term parking lot

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McKeesport has a municipal parking lot that's patrolled, but it's 4 bucks a day. Ohiopyle State Park has just opened a free long-term parking lot. There's also free parking in Cumberland, MD.
If I park my car here do I need to make any reservation or pay a per day fee to access the park?
(E.G. in Ontario, Canada you have to pay $8-18 per day to enter a park).

Thank you.
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Old 09-08-08, 06:30 PM   #13
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I rode the GAP on regular 25's, no real problems, but some areas were a little squirrelly either because of mud or un-tamped crushed limestone that must of been just laid or something. People tell me (and I believe them) that the C&O is a little more rustic.

I'm sure your tires will be fine, if I had to do it again, you could get me to trade up to 28s but no bigger. some folks just love big honking tires, I'm just not one of them
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