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Old 06-02-09, 02:08 PM   #1
fast_track
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TIRE CHOICE for Great Allegheny Passage / C&O Canal Trails

I am looking for a set of all around tires for city use that will also be suitable for use on the Great Allegheny Passage / C&O Canal trails (riding a Surly Cross Check). Planning an end to end trip on these two trails. I have no experience with the trail conditions on either of these routes, but understand it to be a combination of surfaces. I won't have a chance to see the trail before hand as I live in New York.

Tires would need to be 700c size, not 26'. I have a set of Conti Contacts in 28 and like the tread pattern but fear the width will be too narrow. I was considering either the same Contacts in 32 or the Vittoria Randonneur Cross tires in a 32. I weigh about 200lbs with approx 30lbs of gear. Will be CC touring the route.

It just isn't clear to me from my research what the majority of the trail condition is on these routes. I am hoping to stay at 32c, anything larger and I would not likely keep running it while back on pavement in NY and don't really feel like buying two sets of tires right now.

Would any standard touring tire do or do I need to consider something wider and with more tread?

If I wasn't planning on using them on this trail I would probably be looking a the regular Vittoria Randonneurs or the Panaracer Pasela TG's in 32c. I just don't think either of those two choices would offer the grip I am assuming I will need for this ride.

If you have ridden either of these two trails and have a suggestion please let me know.
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Old 06-02-09, 04:50 PM   #2
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I did the C&O and GAP a few weeks ago with 700x32, while my wife had 26x1.75 on her bike. Both worked fine. The wider tires were better on the C&O part, which is generally bumpy single or double track. The GAP surface is much better, favoring the narrower tires, but either were fine. The tires for both bikes were Schwalbe Marathons.

It's a great trip, have fun-
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Old 06-02-09, 04:55 PM   #3
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Would any standard touring tire do or do I need to consider something wider and with more tread?
http://www.conti-online.com/generato...reflex_en.html
http://www.rei.com/product/709112

I think you'd be OK with either of these (better wider than 28, in my opinion).

Here's a fairly current update. We did not have any rain for the trail riding.

The GAP path is packed gravel. The quality of the path is very, very good. It's very uniform and flat and wide. I was using Ritchey "Speed Max" xcross tires (75-80PSI) at 35mm. These seem fine for road riding. My friend was using some other xcross tires at 32mm. Neither of us had any problems (or flats).

The C&O Canal path is not in as good condition. It's packed dirt in most places with rocks and roots that make it a little bit bumpy (but it's not a "mountain bike" trail). Often, it's two tracks with grass at the sides and in the middle. There are more sticks and it's harder to see stuff on the path (due to tree cover).

I suspect that the C&O will be much more muddy and loose in the rain than the GAP. This is the situation where having a more aggressive tread would matter the most.

You could get away with 28mm tires (we saw people on the GAP riding road bikes who were not having any real problems) though you might be more comfortable on wider tires (you don't need to go beyond 35mm).

Last edited by njkayaker; 06-02-09 at 05:15 PM.
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Old 06-02-09, 05:12 PM   #4
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It hasn't rained much here in the last week or so. I was on the upper part of the C&O on Sunday and there were some puddles and some mud. I use 26x1.5 and 26x2 on both and that works fine. In muddy spots on the C&O you'll feel some slipping but it's passable. As we get further into June, the rain should let up some. Here's a pic of the C&O in mid June if you've never seen it. The GAP is much nicer.
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Old 06-02-09, 05:59 PM   #5
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Thats a good picture of what the C&O canal usually looks like,it can be a little wetter sometimes or it can be dryer in the summer.There are some sections that do get pretty bad when there is alot of rain,those sections are usually short and easy enough to walk if you had to.
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Old 06-03-09, 07:48 AM   #6
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THANK YOU ALL for your info and photos. It really helps to get info from riders that are familiar with the trail and routes. I really appreciate the suggestions and your trail experiences. Really looking forward to doing this ride!!!!
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Old 06-03-09, 08:22 AM   #7
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THANK YOU ALL for your info and photos. It really helps to get info from riders that are familiar with the trail and routes. I really appreciate the suggestions and your trail experiences. Really looking forward to doing this ride!!!!
Here's a link to my photo set of the GAP and C & O:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/thehist...7607302637009/
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Old 06-03-09, 11:20 AM   #8
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Here's a link to my photo set of the GAP and C & O:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/thehist...7607302637009/
Nice pictures. It would be better if the ones that are essentially repeats were removed.
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Old 06-03-09, 11:56 AM   #9
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the C and O is flat and straight. you dont need tread at all, since there is no climbing and no turning.

there is bumpiness and some mud though, so, the bigger the better for comfort. I would look for relatively large slicks, if you want the tires to do double duty. somethinglike schwalbe marathon supremes or big apples would be ideal.
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Old 06-03-09, 01:44 PM   #10
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the C and O is flat and straight. you dont need tread at all, since there is no climbing and no turning.

there is bumpiness and some mud though, so, the bigger the better for comfort. I would look for relatively large slicks, if you want the tires to do double duty. somethinglike schwalbe marathon supremes or big apples would be ideal.
One thing I noticed with slicks though, is that they don't cut through the mud very well. I've gone down the trail with mud and the rear end slides all over the place and the back tire spins with slicks. This makes handling difficult, especially if you have weight on the bike. I'd use something with just a little tread.
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Old 06-03-09, 02:30 PM   #11
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Here's a link to my photo set of the GAP and C & O:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/thehist...7607302637009/
Looks like a great trip. Thank for sharing images from your trip. I am finally starting to get a feel for this ride!
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Old 06-03-09, 04:31 PM   #12
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Hey Historian, I know that jersey, it's the covered bridge metric century right here in my own backyard of lancaster co. pa.
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Old 06-08-09, 06:00 AM   #13
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Get a set of Panaracer Pasela's. 32 or 35. You could go larger and you really would not slow down. You can get the non-tour guard version for ~$13 each from Nashbar. The TourGuard tire is a bit more and has the kevlar belt if you feel you'll be flat-prone; I prefer the cheaper version as it rides nicer and doesn't feel "slow". Heck, Bicycle Quarterly has shown these to be one of the fastest tires there are.
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Old 06-08-09, 06:09 AM   #14
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Hey Historian, I know that jersey, it's the covered bridge metric century right here in my own backyard of lancaster co. pa.
Yes, Spinnaker and I did that ride in 2007.
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