Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

NEED HELP SOON --- Long Tour in a week and a half

Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

NEED HELP SOON --- Long Tour in a week and a half

Reply

Old 07-07-10, 08:39 AM
  #1  
PinkFloyd1109
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 10
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
NEED HELP SOON --- Long Tour in a week and a half

Hey everyone, this is my first post and I was hoping to get as much info and as many responses as possible. My wife and I bought bikes about a month ago with the intention of doing the 350ish mile ride from Pittsburgh PA to Washington DC along the GAP and C&O. We have the right types of bikes (hybrids) but based on our schedule, it looks like the only time we'd be able to do the trip would be to leave in about a week. We had originally planned to spend more time training, but what can you do?

Basically, I need to know if the below training is sufficient to make it, and what kind of rest intervals we should be taking if we can make it. For example, should we pedal for 10 miles, rest for an hour, and repeat? We're planning only 40 to 50 miles per day, so I would think we can take our time. Thank you for your help!

Training so far:
1) Bought bikes
2) Several 10ish mile rides
3) 32 mile ride over 4 hours
4) 10 mile ride several days later
5) 36 mile ride over 4.5 hours
6) 10 mile ride several days later
7) 40 mile ride over 5 hours
8) Today

I was thinking one more 40ish mile ride this Saturday, then a 20 or 30 on Sunday to get used to back to back riding days. I'm expecting the full trip to take between 7 and 10 days.

Any and all advice appreciated!
PinkFloyd1109 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 09:44 AM
  #2  
Al Downie
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Cambridge UK
Posts: 440
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I don't think you have anything to worry about - you've already had a few good days in the saddles so you'd be aware by now if there were any serious discomfort issues. Your schedule doesn't sound too gruelling either so your legs will be fine, and you'll be able to take your time and stop for a break any time you like.

Will you be camping (and carrying heavy luggage) or staying in accommodation along the way? if it's the former, take a small pack of moist baby wipes with you - they're great for soothing a sore posterior after a long day.

I'd avoid doing anything 'different' to the training rides you've done so far - for example, if your training rides have been in normal shorts without padding, and you haven't experienced discomfort, then I think it'd be a mistake to start wearing padded shorts on the first day of your tour (tempting as it might be) because they completely change the way the saddle feels, and change the pressure points.

Enjoy it! If you don't mind me preaching a wee bit, I think too many people regard the destination as their goal and aren't happy if they don't clock-up the 'right' number of miles on any given day. In my opinion, it's better to forget about mileage and enjoy the riding, enjoy being part of the landscape, enjoy the folk you meet - the whole experience of it.

Have a great trip.
Al Downie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 09:48 AM
  #3  
chasm54
Banned.
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Uncertain
Posts: 8,651
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by PinkFloyd1109 View Post
I'm expecting the full trip to take between 7 and 10 days.

Any and all advice appreciated!
Make it 10 days. If you're new to this, on the preparation you've done you'll probably manage 35 miles per day (or maybe 40, with a rest day) without major problems. But you might find 50-60 per day, day after day, a different proposition; especially if you're loaded with gear.
chasm54 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 09:59 AM
  #4  
PinkFloyd1109
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 10
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by Al Downie View Post
I don't think you have anything to worry about - you've already had a few good days in the saddles so you'd be aware by now if there were any serious discomfort issues. Your schedule doesn't sound too gruelling either so your legs will be fine, and you'll be able to take your time and stop for a break any time you like.

Will you be camping (and carrying heavy luggage) or staying in accommodation along the way? if it's the former, take a small pack of moist baby wipes with you - they're great for soothing a sore posterior after a long day.

I'd avoid doing anything 'different' to the training rides you've done so far - for example, if your training rides have been in normal shorts without padding, and you haven't experienced discomfort, then I think it'd be a mistake to start wearing padded shorts on the first day of your tour (tempting as it might be) because they completely change the way the saddle feels, and change the pressure points.

Enjoy it! If you don't mind me preaching a wee bit, I think too many people regard the destination as their goal and aren't happy if they don't clock-up the 'right' number of miles on any given day. In my opinion, it's better to forget about mileage and enjoy the riding, enjoy being part of the landscape, enjoy the folk you meet - the whole experience of it.

Have a great trip.
Thanks for the response! We'll be staying indoors the whole way there (no camping... we'll do one adventure at a time). We've been using padded biking shorts for our training rides, so we'll keep using those.

I agree with your view on the journey being the important part. We plan to explore small towns and take lots of pictures. We were hoping to have a solid estimate of the miles, though, so we can make reservations where needed for our nightly stops. Also, we'll have to get to DC on the right day so we can take the train back to Pittsburgh with pre-purchased tickets.

Thanks again for the advice!
PinkFloyd1109 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 10:09 AM
  #5  
PinkFloyd1109
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 10
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
Make it 10 days. If you're new to this, on the preparation you've done you'll probably manage 35 miles per day (or maybe 40, with a rest day) without major problems. But you might find 50-60 per day, day after day, a different proposition; especially if you're loaded with gear.
Do you think we should knock it down to 35 even if we would be taking all day to ride 40? For example, in our training we did 40 in about 5 hours. But on the trip, I figured we'd start around 8 am and ride until 4 or 5 pm each day, since there's no real rush if we have reservations for the night. Or do you think even with a slow pace and lots of breaks, we should lower the mileage we do each day from 40 to 35?

Thanks again.
PinkFloyd1109 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 10:16 AM
  #6  
Al Downie
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Cambridge UK
Posts: 440
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I reckon the schedule will be fine, even with lots of stops and a good long lunchbreak! Given that you don't have to worry about setting up camp, cooking, striking the camp in the mornings etc, AND you'll be able to sleep in a good bed and have hot showers every day (LUXURY!!) - you'll be fresh as daisies every morning! The most challenging part will be the first 100m after lunch every day.
Al Downie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 11:10 AM
  #7  
jdom
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Waynesboro,PA
Posts: 301

Bikes: 08 LHT and 13 giant defy 2 composite

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
You will need to ride farther than 40 miles at least one day on your tour if you are not camping.
Along the C&O canal I don't think there is anywhere to stay between Cumberland and Hancock,about 60-65 miles.
jdom is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 11:14 AM
  #8  
chasm54
Banned.
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Uncertain
Posts: 8,651
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by PinkFloyd1109 View Post
Do you think we should knock it down to 35 even if we would be taking all day to ride 40? For example, in our training we did 40 in about 5 hours. But on the trip, I figured we'd start around 8 am and ride until 4 or 5 pm each day, since there's no real rush if we have reservations for the night. Or do you think even with a slow pace and lots of breaks, we should lower the mileage we do each day from 40 to 35?

Thanks again.
I'm not talking about a strict limit of 35 or 40 miles per day, I'm talking about the cumulative effect. Sixty miles in a day might be fine, but expecting to do that sort of distance every day when you aren't used to it would be a stretch. So spread the whole 350 -mile journey over ten days or so, and hard days can be followed by easy ones, that's what I'm saying.
chasm54 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 11:34 AM
  #9  
Cyclebum
Senior Member
 
Cyclebum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: NE Tx
Posts: 2,766

Bikes: Tour Easy, Linear USS, Lightening Thunderbolt, custom DF, Raleigh hybrid, Felt time trial

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
You've got it lined out just about right for your experience and for a leisurely credit card tour. Sounds like you're in for a fun trip.
Cyclebum is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 11:47 AM
  #10  
PinkFloyd1109
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 10
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by jdom View Post
You will need to ride farther than 40 miles at least one day on your tour if you are not camping.
Along the C&O canal I don't think there is anywhere to stay between Cumberland and Hancock,about 60-65 miles.
Didn't realize that. We were going to plan the stops once we were sure we could make it. Thank you for that valuable piece of advice though. Any other tips on the trail? We bought a book about it but any insight would be appreciated.
PinkFloyd1109 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 11:49 AM
  #11  
PinkFloyd1109
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 10
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
I'm not talking about a strict limit of 35 or 40 miles per day, I'm talking about the cumulative effect. Sixty miles in a day might be fine, but expecting to do that sort of distance every day when you aren't used to it would be a stretch. So spread the whole 350 -mile journey over ten days or so, and hard days can be followed by easy ones, that's what I'm saying.
That seems like good advice. Maybe we'll try to stagger between, for example, 30 miles one day and 60 the next, so we can recover while riding.
PinkFloyd1109 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 01:59 PM
  #12  
indyfabz
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 21,075
Mentioned: 150 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7733 Post(s)
Some additional considerations:

Unless you are going to spend the entire trip wearing the same riding outfits all the time, you are going to be carrying some stuff. Have you been training with your anticipated loads?

Have you practiced changing tubes in the event of flats? Are your tires suitable for the surface of the C&O, which is rougher than the GAP?

If you will be taking the train and will be packing the bikes yourselves, you will need the tools required to remove your pedals, losen your stems and bars and probably lower your seatposts. That's what you need to do to get your bikes in the Amtrak bike boxes.
indyfabz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 02:51 PM
  #13  
PinkFloyd1109
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 10
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Some additional considerations:

Unless you are going to spend the entire trip wearing the same riding outfits all the time, you are going to be carrying some stuff. Have you been training with your anticipated loads?

Have you practiced changing tubes in the event of flats? Are your tires suitable for the surface of the C&O, which is rougher than the GAP?

If you will be taking the train and will be packing the bikes yourselves, you will need the tools required to remove your pedals, losen your stems and bars and probably lower your seatposts. That's what you need to do to get your bikes in the Amtrak bike boxes.
Excellent advice, thank you! We haven't been training with our anticipated loads, though we plan to pack light (mainly clothes). Our tires should be OK for the C&O from what the shop we bought them at said, but would you be able to provide a more detailed explanation of the surface of the C&O? We haven't changed flats, but have the spare tubes and were shown how to do it. I think we can sit around looking sad if we can't figure it out, but I'm confident we can do it.

Finally, I didn't realize we need to take the bikes apart for shipment on Amtrak. Are these specifications available online, perhaps on the Amtrak site? If so, I might need to look into them.

Thanks!
PinkFloyd1109 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 03:16 PM
  #14  
aggiegrads
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Sherwood, OR
Posts: 687
Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 63 Post(s)
Don't wait for a flat to try changing a tube. Chances are that you will get a flat and it would be wise to give it a try before you head out.

There's nothing wrong with changing out one good tube for another for practice.
aggiegrads is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 03:56 PM
  #15  
CGinOhio
Senior Member
 
CGinOhio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Northeast Ohio
Posts: 160

Bikes: 2011 Co-Motion Nor'Wester, 2007 Co-Mo Speedster copilot tandem

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Sounds doable. The GAP/C&O was also our first tour, though we were more prepared. You will enjoy it!
But definitely practice changing tubes! Carry with you an extra tube, patch kit, and a pump or CO2 inflator ! You should be prepared to go long stretches on the C&O without help.
Also, be mentally prepared for slogging through mud on the C&O if it is rainy. Mud can really slow you down. If you expect lots of rain, it pays to try to stretch your mileage on the dry stretches of trail.
CGinOhio is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 04:14 PM
  #16  
axolotl
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 1,744
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 146 Post(s)
The C&O Canal towpath isn't nearly as smooth as the GAP Trail surface. It's a lot bumpier with pebbles embedded in the hard-packed soil, and exposed tree roots in places. In some areas, there's grass growing in the middle with two dirt tracks adjacent to the grass. But I did just fine riding my folding bike with 20" x 1.5" tires. If your tires have kevlar, it's unlikely you'll have any flats. It the current weather keeps up, mud will not be an issue, either, but heat will. But you will have shade most of the time. However one big thunderstorm can quickly change the towpath conditions. It happened to us between Williamsport and Harpers Ferry. BTW, after you cross the eastern continental divide on the GAP Trail, it will be a very easy downhill to Cumberland and doesn't take very long at all. If you go off the trail to the center of Frostburg (a nice college town worth a look), you'll have a serious uphill. Same thing if you visit Fallingwater or Kentuck Knob. The Kentuck Knob climb was ridiculous! I don't remember how hilly the road is going up to Fallingwater because I visited it in a car on an earlier trip to the Laurel Highlands.

On both sides of Hancock, you can take the parallel Western Maryland Rail-Trail which is smoothly paved. It was a nice break from the towpath.
axolotl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 05:19 PM
  #17  
jdom
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Waynesboro,PA
Posts: 301

Bikes: 08 LHT and 13 giant defy 2 composite

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I was just out to Cumberland and back to Williamsport this past weekend.It looks like they are resurfacing some of the trail between the PawPaw tunnel and Little Orleans.There smoothing it out with gravel but unfortunately it is not packed down very good.I had to pedal extra hard through some sections because I was sinking a little,I have 26x1.75 inche tires but I was also fully loaded.It might not be too bad since you are traveling light.
Also right now it's filthy dusty out there,make sure to bring some lube and a rag to clean your drive train.It could change to mud but the time you leave but a clean drive train is still needed.
jdom is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 09:56 PM
  #18  
Kazarad
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 17

Bikes: Shwinn MB

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
i really dont see you having a problem with your trip. i did a tour from Portland Oregon to Los Angles California and i hadn't touched a bike in about 7 years so i think you two will be fine. i do agree with chasm54 that you should plan on 10 days. in my experience something almost always happens to put you behind schedule (weather, roads being closed, bike problems, ect..) hope you have a fantastic trip though sounds like fun.
Kazarad is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-10, 11:19 PM
  #19  
Doug64
Senior Member
 
Doug64's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 5,390
Mentioned: 27 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 734 Post(s)
It depends on the train whether you have to box your bike or not. We've done it both ways. The Amtrak bike boxes are really large. The only thing you have to do is remove the pedals (a lot of pedals can be removed with a hex wrench.) , and loosen the stem so that the bars can be turned parallel to the front wheel. Again , all that is needed is a hex wrech. It is a good idea to carry a multi tool and a set of tire levers. The multi tool will have all the sizes of wreches you should need. Then just roll the bike into the box. Calling Amtrak on their toll-free number is not much help. If possible, go to the nearest station and they agent will usually call the other station for you and ask about requirements.


Doug64 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-08-10, 05:14 AM
  #20  
VT_Speed_TR
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Vermont
Posts: 747
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
I wouldn't worry about making the miles each day. My 11 yo son and I just did the GAP and he had not ridden more then a 14 mile ride this year. We ended up having days of 19, 38, 12, and 43 miles, which he had no issues with other then being tired at the end of the day. We didn't start the day until between 9 & 10 am, and most days were finished around 2 - 3 pm. We stopped many times for pix's and exploring off trail along the rivers or towns, and lots of water. We had temps in the upper 80's, he had a Camelback pack and water bottle, I had 2 water bottles, we had a 1/2 gal container of water in the trailer, and 2 cold bottles of Gatorade in a small cooler in the trailer. On the long days we went through most of that liquid, which kept us happy and motivated.
VT_Speed_TR is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-08-10, 08:02 AM
  #21  
Neil_B
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Mentioned: Post(s)
Tagged: Thread(s)
Quoted: Post(s)
Originally Posted by jdom View Post
You will need to ride farther than 40 miles at least one day on your tour if you are not camping.
Along the C&O canal I don't think there is anywhere to stay between Cumberland and Hancock,about 60-65 miles.
There's a B and B in Paw- Paw, a short ride across the river. The bridge is just before the tunnel.
 
Reply With Quote
Old 07-08-10, 08:04 AM
  #22  
Neil_B
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Mentioned: Post(s)
Tagged: Thread(s)
Quoted: Post(s)
Have you visited atatrail.org, the Passage's website? It lists all lodging along the GAP.
 
Reply With Quote
Old 07-08-10, 08:10 AM
  #23  
Neil_B
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Mentioned: Post(s)
Tagged: Thread(s)
Quoted: Post(s)
A list of things to bring and do, copied from another thread on another forum. One person argued my suggestions for a jacket and lots of lights were excessive. To each their own.

***************
1. Sunscreen. Large parts of the route are exposed to the sun.

2. Insect repellent.

3. Lights for the bike. A LOT of them. You have four tunnels to ride through, and while they claim Big Savage and Brush are lit, they are still very dark. Borden and Paw-Paw are not lit. And unless you are confident in your night mountain biking skills, don't ride through Paw-Paw tunnel.



4. A jacket. Not only for the rain, but also to go through Big Savage and Paw Paw - both are long, cold, and (especially Paw Paw) wet.

5. Cash. Many of the businesses along the way don't accept credit cards. Do you really want to search downtown West Newton looking for an ATM?

6. Water. Always keep tanked on fluid, especially on the C & O. If the handle is off the pump, there's no water at the campsite.

7. A map. Use the print outs from atatrail.org and the National Park Service's map of the C & O.

8. Hill climbing legs. If you go off trail, you are either going up or down. Also, there's a detour on the C & O that sends you across five miles of Maryland rollers.

9. A moment for the people who worked so hard to bring a world-class bicycle route into being. When you get to Rockwood, stop at the visitor center and give a moment of silence to Maynard Sembower, who as a little boy saw the Western Maryland Railroad build track through his hometown, and who celebrated his 100th birthday last year. He passed in September. In 2008 Rockwood honored him by using his likeness in a mural to greet trail users as they came into town. He was proud of the likeness, and when I met him during his morning in the visitor center, three months before he died, he directed me to the mural. Ride the few hundred feet into town and see it.

 
Reply With Quote
Old 07-08-10, 02:48 PM
  #24  
PinkFloyd1109
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 10
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Thanks again everyone for the info. Definitely helpful and I learned a lot of stuff I didn't know but am glad that I do (particularly trail conditions and bike transportation). Much appreciated.
PinkFloyd1109 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 07-08-10, 03:12 PM
  #25  
Shifty
Sore saddle cyclist
 
Shifty's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Eugene, OR
Posts: 3,873

Bikes: Road, touring and mountain

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 36 Post(s)
Originally Posted by PinkFloyd1109 View Post
Excellent advice, thank you! We haven't been training with our anticipated loads, though we plan to pack light (mainly clothes). Our tires should be OK for the C&O from what the shop we bought them at said, but would you be able to provide a more detailed explanation of the surface of the C&O? We haven't changed flats, but have the spare tubes and were shown how to do it. I think we can sit around looking sad if we can't figure it out, but I'm confident we can do it.

Finally, I didn't realize we need to take the bikes apart for shipment on Amtrak. Are these specifications available online, perhaps on the Amtrak site? If so, I might need to look into them.

Thanks!
You really should know how to remove wheels from the bike and how to fix a flat with a tube patch kit. Relying on the kindness of strangers is unreliable at best. I came upon a rider with a flat who had no idea of how to remove the wheel from the bike, didn't know about the brake release or getting the chain off the wheel. Practice now will save loads of trouble while traveling. C&o is a gravel path, rock punctures are likely. Good tires like Specialized Armadillos would be a good investment.
Shifty is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service