I did my first overnight tour this past weekend and absolutely loved it. Everything went so well, I'm ready to jump into a 5- to 6-day trip. I was originally planning to ride in NW Michigan but after this past weekend, I decided my Michigan route did not have enough miles each day and my brain would rot sitting in campgrounds.
I am now planning to ride the Great Allegheny Passage mid October starting in Pittsburgh. I may or may not have a friend along.
I'd like to ride all the way to DC but I have a maximum of six days to ride and I need to ride BOTH ways so that I don't have to deal with shuttles or return transportation.
I have been Googling the heck out of GAP trip reports, sites, and postings. I'm having a bit of trouble pulling it all together and have some questions.
- Can I expect to cover roughly the same number of miles on crushed limestone trail as I would be comfortable riding on highway asphalt? I would assume not but not sure how much less.
- I like to stop and see the sights. I'm not driven to achieve any particular distance each day as long as there is interesting stuff to see. I look at the mileage charts and I think Cumberland is probably too short a ride (134 miles) to stretch out over three days. True or false?
- Is Cumberland a good stopping point or am I cheating myself if I turn around there? Are there any must-see attractions if I go a bit father east?
- I ride a Trek 520 with Bontrager Hardcase tires. Should I get some wider tires with a bit more tread? I have read lots of people using Conti Touring Contact. Are treaded tires a necessity on packed limestone or would I do okay with smooth 32c tires?
- I do have an older Cadex mountain bike with 26" Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires that I could ride instead. Would it be bad etiquette to ride the trail with studded tires?
- Assuming I ride just to Cumberland, where are the best sites to camp between Pittsburgh and Cumberland (including an overnight in or near Cumberland)? I hate the crapshoot of passing up a nice campground to ride a few more miles only to have to stay at a crappy site when I run out of daylight.
Your thoughts are appreciated.