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  1. #1
    no one cares -holiday76's Avatar
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    Last tour for a while, need suggestions

    For the past 10 years or so I've taken at minimum a two week tour every year with a few exceptions. The future will be a bit different for me as my first child is due in early July. Not that I don't expect to tour anymore but letís just say things will be different.

    So I have off next week, and I'm thinking of taking 3-5 days to go on a solo, unsupported tour from my house. I live in Phoenixville, PA, which is a western suburb of Philly.

    I've already ridden every direction. I've ridden Montreal to Philly, Chicago to Philly, Philly to Virginia Beach and back. I've done many tours in Delmarva, Shenandoah, western PA, New Jersey Etc. Not that I can't go back to any of those places, I'm just looking for something different.

    One thing I've never done is the CO Canal as I normally ride on roads.

    A few things to consider:

    - This will be my first tour alone. Normally I ride with my father who is currently in Mexico for a few weeks..
    - I will be carrying all my gear and will be camping, but I'll probably hit a hotel/motel up once, but maybe not.
    - I'm not opposed to having to return home on a train or bus provided I could bring my bike with me or pack it in a box. So I'd be up for a one way tour.
    - I've never ridden on any of the "touring routes" nor have I ever seen another cyclo tourist while on tour. Kind of strange, I know. I'd love to have that experience this time.

    That's all I can think of. I havenít even looked at a map yet but the only thing I've thought about so far is possibly getting on the CO somewhere, ending up in DC, and then taking Amtrak back to Philly. I live just an hour bike ride from Philly.

    I'm not sure if I'm up for riding on a trail though, by myself, for that long. Just sounds a little boring, plus I guess there are no amenities.

    So does anyone else have any ideas? Not asking for you to plan my tour, I hate fully planned tours anyway, but I'm just looking for some input.

    Thanks!
    Mmmm, bicycles.

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  2. #2
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    I did the C&O canal a month or 2 ago with my family. We were pretty early in the season, so we didn't see too many people, but we saw a few. I would guess that you'd get your wish to see more people if you do that. Regarding amenities, there are campsites, with water pumps (tastes a little funny sometimes, but safe to drink), and port-a-pots about every 5 miles. There are also some spots that are close enough to towns that you could find a store or restaurant.

    The trail is flat, and in itself not too exciting, but the scenery is varied enough along the way that we didn't find it boring.

    Hope that helps, enjoy your tour, where ever you decide to go.

    Chris

  3. #3
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by -holiday76 View Post
    For the past 10 years or so I've taken at minimum a two week tour every year with a few exceptions. The future will be a bit different for me as my first child is due in early July. Not that I don't expect to tour anymore but letís just say things will be different.

    So I have off next week, and I'm thinking of taking 3-5 days to go on a solo, unsupported tour from my house. I live in Phoenixville, PA, which is a western suburb of Philly.

    I've already ridden every direction. I've ridden Montreal to Philly, Chicago to Philly, Philly to Virginia Beach and back. I've done many tours in Delmarva, Shenandoah, western PA, New Jersey Etc. Not that I can't go back to any of those places, I'm just looking for something different.

    One thing I've never done is the CO Canal as I normally ride on roads.

    A few things to consider:

    - This will be my first tour alone. Normally I ride with my father who is currently in Mexico for a few weeks..
    - I will be carrying all my gear and will be camping, but I'll probably hit a hotel/motel up once, but maybe not.
    - I'm not opposed to having to return home on a train or bus provided I could bring my bike with me or pack it in a box. So I'd be up for a one way tour.
    - I've never ridden on any of the "touring routes" nor have I ever seen another cyclo tourist while on tour. Kind of strange, I know. I'd love to have that experience this time.

    That's all I can think of. I havenít even looked at a map yet but the only thing I've thought about so far is possibly getting on the CO somewhere, ending up in DC, and then taking Amtrak back to Philly. I live just an hour bike ride from Philly.

    I'm not sure if I'm up for riding on a trail though, by myself, for that long. Just sounds a little boring, plus I guess there are no amenities.

    So does anyone else have any ideas? Not asking for you to plan my tour, I hate fully planned tours anyway, but I'm just looking for some input.

    Thanks!
    The C & O has lots of rides and hikers near towns, and especially within 25 miles of DC. I doubt you will be as alone as you fear. However, there are large stretches where you will goes hours without seeing anyone, particularly on a weekday. Also, there are roads nearby you can ride if you get tired of the towpath.

    Pity your week off wasn't in mid-June. You could join the Bike Forums tour Spinnaker is leading.

  4. #4
    no one cares -holiday76's Avatar
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    To be clear, I'm not afraid to be alone . In fact I'm looking forward to it.

    I just hope to ride some route where there are people doing the same thing I am. Ideally it would be fun to be able to share a campsite or something like that.

    So I guess the trail might be a good option. I'm going to have to look into that further.
    Thanks for the suggestions!
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  5. #5
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    If you're interested in Noo Joizey, this plan incorporates a lot of touring I've done in my home state:

    Ride from home to New Hope by way of Conshohocken; I found that to be a very nice ride.

    You could then take the Delaware and Raritan Canal towpath to Trenton, (camping in Bull Island)

    Then follow the East Coast Greenway to New York City. (This and the D&RC will put you on routes that have a good number of touring cyclists.)

    Ride to Wall Street, either on the roads or on the west side greenway, then take the ferry to Atlantic Highlands, NJ. You can camp south of Sandy Hook.

    Ride down the shore, to Point Pleasant. Southwest 'till you hit the Pine Barrens, then turn towards Philadelphia, then home. About 300-350 miles, depending on how you route it.

    This is very rough, and I'm not sure there's a lot of camping on the Jersey shore south of the one place I mentioned. I think there's camping in the Pine Barrens.
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    I like to ride around big lakes. In June, I'll load my bike on my car and drive to the Buffalo International Airport long term parking lot. I'll leave my car there for about $6/day and ride around through downtown Buffalo and across the Niagara river. From there I'll ride past Niagara Falls and circle Lake Ontario clockwise, taking a ferry back into the US at Kingston, Ontario to continue around the South side of the lake. At about Sodus Point, NY, I'll drop south about 40 miles and catch the Erie Canal towpath route back to North of Buffalo and back to my car. The whole trip is about 600 miles and I'll plan a little less than two weeks for it.

    If you're open to driving to your starting/ending point and leaving your car while you make a loop, this is an option for you.

  7. #7
    rhm
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    I've ridden the first 40 miles of the C&O many times, though not in many years. It's nice, but it's crowded, and (yeah!) it's kinda boring. There are a few standout things worth seeing on that canal; the Monocacy Aqueduct is particularly nice, now that the damage from hurricane Agnes (1972??) has been repaired (finally!). And I've always wanted to ride through the Paw Paw Tunnel, but it's far from where I've been. All in all, I guess I wouldn't recommend the C&O for such a short tour.

    That said, one way to do it would be day 1 to York, day 2 to the canal at Brunswick or Point of Rocks, day 3 to DC on the canal, then Amtrak home.

  8. #8
    imi
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    Not sure how american tow paths are compared to european, but the little experience I have on french tow paths made me figure that I would need wider tyres than my 32s to be comfortable for longer stretches... 35s would probably do? Any experienced canalers care to advise?

  9. #9
    no one cares -holiday76's Avatar
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    my latest thoughts have been to take Amtrak to DC, on Sunday, get on the trail sunday night and right out far enough to camp. Monday and tuesday ride the trail to Hagerstown or so, then jump off and head back home via Gettysburg and maybe one of the PA state bike routes which actually bring me back to my doorstep and should do so by Thursday or so.

    That way if the trail is boring I'm only on it for a few days or could really jump off at any time.

    The only problem with this is that I'd probably have to box up my bike to get it onto the train. Not a big deal but I have to make sure I can make it fit. I'd be taking a 64cm touring frame.

    As it turns out I may also have a little more time than I though so I might be able to take some extra days.

    As for the lakes thing, I've done that too a few times. I've ridden around the Chesapeak and the Delware a few times. Those are nices rides but like I said, I'd really prefer to do something different.

    Still thinking...

    EDIT:
    I'm also doing a ride with some folks from the Vintage forum on Saturday up in New Hope, PA, so I'm even considering making that my start and just riding on from there. I just need to figure out how to get out of plans I had on Saturday night .
    Mmmm, bicycles.

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by imi View Post
    Not sure how american tow paths are compared to european, but the little experience I have on french tow paths made me figure that I would need wider tyres than my 32s to be comfortable for longer stretches... 35s would probably do? Any experienced canalers care to advise?
    I used 35's when I did my canal ride, I found them to be wide enough. YMMV.

    Chris

  11. #11
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    New Hope is a great area to cycle in. Hunterdon County - over the border in NJ - is gorgeous, if hilly.
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  12. #12
    no one cares -holiday76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein View Post
    New Hope is a great area to cycle in. Hunterdon County - over the border in NJ - is gorgeous, if hilly.
    sure is. I've done a fair amount of riding up that way, but not for a few years. Do you know if the canal path on the PA side north of new hope is still washed out?
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  13. #13
    no one cares -holiday76's Avatar
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    Well, I pretty much had my decision made for me. I screwed up my dates and was planning on doing a C&V ride on Saturday but it's actually on Sunday. So it makes sense for me to just leave for the tour from that ride, in New Hope. So I guess I just need to decide where to go from there.
    Mmmm, bicycles.

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  14. #14
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -holiday76 View Post
    sure is. I've done a fair amount of riding up that way, but not for a few years. Do you know if the canal path on the PA side north of new hope is still washed out?
    As far as I know, yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by -holiday76 View Post
    Well, I pretty much had my decision made for me. I screwed up my dates and was planning on doing a C&V ride on Saturday but it's actually on Sunday. So it makes sense for me to just leave for the tour from that ride, in New Hope. So I guess I just need to decide where to go from there.
    On the 4th day of a tour I rode in 2007, I went from New Hope to Princeton, was an awesome day. I hit my stride cycling after getting over the hills in western Hunterdon County. Here's the Route.

    Not that I'm trying to talk you into riding in NJ or anything...
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  15. #15
    rhm
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    Quote Originally Posted by -holiday76 View Post
    ... Do you know if the canal path on the PA side north of new hope is still washed out?
    I rode that stretch of the path from New Hope up to Stockton last October; it was fine then. Does that help?

  16. #16
    no one cares -holiday76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    I rode that stretch of the path from New Hope up to Stockton last October; it was fine then. Does that help?
    yup, thanks
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  17. #17
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Does anyone know if the path south of New Hope is in decent shape?
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    I'm in the celtic folk fusion band Baroque and Hungry. "Mended", our new full-length studio album, is now available for download.

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