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Old 03-06-13, 08:44 PM   #1
Max Stout
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Great Allegheny Passage - Hybrid Bike - Tires

I am planning a multi-day trip along the Great Allegheny Passage with my wife in June. We will be doing 40-50 miles per day, no camping, no cooking. We will be purchasing hybrid bikes for the trip, either Specialized, Trek, Giant, Cannondale or perhaps another make available in a LBS in the area. We are looking at the 500-600 dollar range. The specs don't show a lot of difference, so I figure they are all of equal quality.

My reason for posting is to ask two questions: how wide a tire would you recommend for the Western portion of the Great Allegheny Passage (the first hundred miles or so), and is there much difference between max tire width capability among similar bikes? I mean, are there any that won't take larger tires than 32s, or is this a non-issue as well?
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Old 03-07-13, 06:48 AM   #2
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We are riding the GAP in June also, a tandem with 700/32 tires. We've used 32s on many rail trails and don't expect the GAP to be any different. As for no camping/no cooking and 40/50 miles a day, make sure you plan out your lodging ahead of time, most of the lodging options are B&Bs so the number of rooms can be limited.
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Old 03-07-13, 07:32 AM   #3
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My wife and I have ridden the GAP & C&O 2x's and I have ridden it once ,last October by myself. I ride a Giant Escape and it has 32mm tires. I usually put on a set that has a bit more aggressive tread especially for the C&O. The GAP could even be ridden with street tires. The only area where we have encountered really "loose" gravel was from Frostburgh to Cumberland.
It is a GREAT ride and you will enjoy it.
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Old 03-07-13, 08:15 AM   #4
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100 miles of the western end (assuming the gap in the GAP is completed) - the trail from Pittsburgh to Boston (~ 20 miles) is essentially all paved. From Boston eastward, the trail is composed of fine, packed limestone chips. I ran it on a hybrid with 700x35 tires and my buddy rode it on 700x40's. Two of our three days were in rain with one day being five hours of straight rain, occasionally heavy. We had no problems. I don't think a 32 would present any issues at all.
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Old 03-07-13, 09:04 AM   #5
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The GAP is a very nice surface so as others stated you should have no problems.

The one thing that I would do is make sure you put some miles on the bikes well before you go. Cables stretch, wheels go out of true etc...

Have a great trip!
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Old 03-07-13, 10:43 AM   #6
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I have done the entire GAP and the C&O on Continental Contact 1.5 tires. I had no issues and I was riding into Hurricane Irene so the C&O was wet to say the least. On the GAP you will have absolutely no issues. Enjoy.
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Old 03-07-13, 12:07 PM   #7
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Very reassuring. Now to get the bikes and put in saddle time! Thanks all.
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Old 03-07-13, 04:40 PM   #8
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I did the C&O/GAP fully loaded on 35s. I wouldn't hesitate to do the GAP unloaded with 32s or even 28s.

Still I wouldn't considure a touring bike that won't handle 35s with fenders.
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Old 03-07-13, 05:58 PM   #9
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Have you noticed that the the trail is blocked right now east of the Paw Paw tunnel and the NPS says they dont have the funds to remove the rock slide? It may be blocked for a while but there is a detour over the mountain about 5 miles I read. Good luck and remember to post up about your trip. I'd like to tackle it one day myself.
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Old 03-07-13, 06:28 PM   #10
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You can go as low as 28mm tires on the section from Pittsburgh to Cumberland. Even thinner if that is all that you have but you will need at least 32mm on the C&O section.

PM me if you need help at the Pittsburgh end. Place to crash, sag, tour guide or whatever. If I am in town and have the time off (if needed) I would be happy to help. The offer is always open to all forum members.

BTW If I show you around or not, you should NOT miss our bicycle museum called Bicycle Heaven. It is just off the trail on the northern side of our rivers, off the bike path that runs in front of the stadiums, past the casino, you should see signs. A little hard to find so local knowledge makes it easier.
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Old 03-08-13, 06:23 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Roosterbird View Post
Have you noticed that the the trail is blocked right now east of the Paw Paw tunnel and the NPS says they dont have the funds to remove the rock slide? It may be blocked for a while but there is a detour over the mountain about 5 miles I read. Good luck and remember to post up about your trip. I'd like to tackle it one day myself.

The closure is on the C&O, not the GAP. They are two different trails.
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Old 03-08-13, 12:55 PM   #12
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But they connect and many people ride thru, that's why I mentioned it
http://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/closures.htm
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Old 03-08-13, 01:17 PM   #13
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I rode about 50 miles on the C&O Canal trail last summer with 700x32 Ritchey Crossmax Pro tires and they were great. The GAP, from what I understand, has a better surface than the C&O, so 32s should be fine on the GAP. Having a little tread on your tires is good because the trail can be wet and muddy in sections, particularly if it has been rainy.
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Old 03-08-13, 06:48 PM   #14
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The closure is on the C&O, not the GAP. They are two different trails.
Technically maybe but most people refer to the trail from Pittsburgh to DC as the GAP. If you want to get technical there are far more than 2 trails. Both the GAP is made up of several connected trails. The collection is the GAP. I am not exactly sure how the C & O is put together as far as trails.
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Old 03-08-13, 08:03 PM   #15
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Technically maybe but most people refer to the trail from Pittsburgh to DC as the GAP. If you want to get technical there are far more than 2 trails. Both the GAP is made up of several connected trails. The collection is the GAP. I am not exactly sure how the C & O is put together as far as trails.
The C&O is not of part of the GAP. They meet in Cumberland, Maryland. No one I know refers to the entire length as one or the other. The former is a canal towpath end to end, and the latter is essentially a rail trail, with added trails.
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Old 03-08-13, 08:16 PM   #16
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I rode my Specialized Vita Elite hybrid on the GAP and C&O. The stock tire is a 28mm so that is what I had. I had no problem with the GAP, even with it raining one day, but I wish I had bigger tires when I was riding the C&O.
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Old 03-08-13, 08:20 PM   #17
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The C&O is not of part of the GAP. They meet in Cumberland, Maryland. No one I know refers to the entire length as one or the other. The former is a canal towpath end to end, and the latter is essentially a rail trail, with added trails.
Well almost every one I know refers to the GAP as the whole trail.

Most people say ,"I am planning on riding the GAP from Pittsburgh to DC"

If not then why are people in this very thread referring to the C&O when the OP never mentioned the C&O?

Last edited by spinnaker; 03-08-13 at 08:26 PM.
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Old 03-08-13, 08:30 PM   #18
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Must be a Pittsburgh thing. Kind of hard to do when it doesn't even get you half way there.
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Old 03-09-13, 09:27 AM   #19
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I'm just glad for the overall update as my son and I are going to do the whole trail this summer (C&O and GAP)
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Old 03-09-13, 09:19 PM   #20
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Technically maybe but most people refer to the trail from Pittsburgh to DC as the GAP. If you want to get technical there are far more than 2 trails. Both the GAP is made up of several connected trails. The collection is the GAP. I am not exactly sure how the C & O is put together as far as trails.
They both are part of the Potomac Heritage Trail, which extends to Reedville, VA and Point Lookout, MD.
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Old 03-11-13, 07:53 AM   #21
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Technically maybe but most people refer to the trail from Pittsburgh to DC as the GAP. If you want to get technical there are far more than 2 trails. Both the GAP is made up of several connected trails. The collection is the GAP. I am not exactly sure how the C & O is put together as far as trails.
I think in the context of what I responded to it's important to point out the difference. The OP said he's planning on riding the GAP. Someone then commented there is a detour on the GAP because of a tunnel closure. In actuality, the tunnel closure is on the C&O. If the OP is planning ro ride the GAP proper to Cumberland he need not be concerned about the detour.

Keeping them separate can cut down on confusion, especially since they are under the jurisdiction of two separte entities.
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Old 03-16-13, 09:27 PM   #22
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Just a quick thanks for the offer spinnaker. We won't be taking you up on it, but is most gracious.

I got the Trailbook Official Guide today, and I am sure I will be posting more questions as I continue planning out trip along the GAP. We won't make it to the C&O Canal this trip.

We went to four bike shops today, and my wife definitively liked the KHS Vitamin B in baby blue, so we I bought that. I am still torn between a Trek 7.2 FX and the Cannondale Quick 5. The Trek seems like a better deal, but something is pulling me to the Cannondale. Perhaps because I've already got a Trek road bike. I rode five different bikes, and they all felt like the fit was fine. Maybe the decision will come in a dream tonight.
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Old 03-16-13, 10:11 PM   #23
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The Trek has a steel fork with lowrider mounts, The Canondale has an aluminum fork. For touring the Trek has a better fork.
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Old 03-19-13, 11:42 AM   #24
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I think in the context of what I responded to it's important to point out the difference. The OP said he's planning on riding the GAP. Someone then commented there is a detour on the GAP because of a tunnel closure. In actuality, the tunnel closure is on the C&O. If the OP is planning ro ride the GAP proper to Cumberland he need not be concerned about the detour.

Keeping them separate can cut down on confusion, especially since they are under the jurisdiction of two separte entities.
When i saw the post about the trail closure I too thought C&O thus, in context of this thread, not a factor. So, good point Indy.

Still, the trail closure info is good info to have.
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Old 03-19-13, 11:43 AM   #25
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The FX series are great bikes!! Hard to go wrong!
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