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Too much?

Old 07-26-11, 03:47 PM
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Too much?

Ok,

I'm gearing up for my first tour this fall. Pittsburgh to DC. Just got my tent--REI Camp dome. When my second quarter bonus comes I'll order my BOB Yak (hopefully REI will have a coupon!) and my Trangia--most likely the 27-3. It's a little bulkier and heavier, but with Celiac, I may be doing a bit more cooking than boiling (no gluten means nothing made with wheat, oat, barley, or rye.) Should have everything by mid-August so I can get used to the trailer and extra weight; plus, I want to make at least one overnight test run.

I was planning on making the trip a 5 day adventure--300 miles down, train or rental back. BUT, I'm thinking about making it a round trip.

I origonally planned on taking a Thursday, Friday, Monday, and Tuesday off of work and making the trip. The extra day was to spend in DC. BUT, I thought I'd take an entire week (what's one extra vacation day?) leave Saturday morning and have 9 days to go. I'd have to average 77-75 miles per day to make the full trip. If there should be a problem, we only live an hour and half from Cumberland, MD so my wife could come get me anywhere between my starting point and Cumberland.

Does this sound too "lofty" for a newbie?
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Old 07-26-11, 03:56 PM
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60-65 miles would be best.
You will find out when you do the test tour.
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Old 07-26-11, 04:22 PM
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You have to factor in WIND, rough roads and HILLS.
A fully loaded bike is different bike on a tour.
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Old 07-27-11, 07:19 AM
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My first tour was from Seattle to Bar Harbor, ME to Philadelphia to Ocean City, NJ. I did one fully loaded test ride of 65 miles a week before I caught the train to the left coast.. I carried a big load, which included over 10 lbs. of photography equipment, and had never camped a day in my life. During the trip, I never once walked or hitched a ride. Or course, I had been riding for sport and transportation for 12 years and was at the peak of my fitness level. The point is that being a "newbie" (assuming you mean to touring) isn't the determinative issue when assessing whether something might be too much to handle. If you are new to cycling, there may be some issues (e.g., butt readiness, bike handling ability), although not necessarily. A couple of people on the x-country portion of my tour were relatively new to cycling and had never taken a tour before. However, they were not strangers to higher level "exercise." Two were collegiate runners and one was a physical therapist. If you are new to extended periods of exercise, that will probably raise additonal issues.

And there are issues aside from those related to moving the bike. For example, would sleeping in a tent during a rain storm be a problem for you? Do you have a fear of critters and insects causing your premature demise? What if you have to use a vault toilette? (I know several people who simply cannot bring themslves to use port-a-potties.) Is your diet so rigid/restricted that finding suitable food options might be difficult?

In the end, you are the best person to assess your physical and psychological limits.

In any event, is your plan to do the GAP and C&O? If so, that may be a good idea since the terrain is not demanding (although I understand that the C&O has it's bumby sections and some can become a mud puddle after significant rain), and with the wealth of information out there, it's pretty easy to plan a trip.
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Old 07-27-11, 01:18 PM
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You're going GAP + C&O Towpath? Not much wind (it's pretty sheltered) but the C&O can be very muddy after a rainstorm. At least it is pretty flat. You'll have to decide if you can handle the daily mileage day after day - I'd plan for at least one rest day. I recall lots of vibration from the towpath surface making it rough on hands and seat - that could wind up being the limiter more than miles.
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Old 07-27-11, 01:46 PM
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Aside from distances my concern would be riding back the same way you came. The C&O isn't the most scenic route and I can't imagine riding in one direction for 3 days then turning around and doing it again. At the very least consider an alternate route on the way back (ie, Custis/W&OD from DC to Rt 9 then north to Brunswick, MD to pick up the tow path again. That at least knocks off 50 miles or so of repeat terrain.

Seriously, think about either extending the ride in one direction if you want additional days or a different route back.
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Old 07-27-11, 07:23 PM
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Thanks folks! I really appreciate the advice.

I looked at the mileage/campgrounds/towns on the trip. Since we live within an hour of multiple places where I can get on the GAP, I think I'm going rethink where I'd start and how I may be able to schedule a down and back with 50-65 mile days instead of 70-75 mile days!

Plus, I want to enjoy the trip.
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Old 07-28-11, 10:34 PM
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You mentioned the use of the BOB trailer. I've been using my BOB for 2 summer's on 4 tour's so far.
I've found that I often over pack at 1st, but then repack several times and pare down the excess.
I've had good experiance with my BOB so long as the center of gravity is low.
I ride a Catrike Trail, so the tip forces are much less but can be achieved if your not paying attention.
Since I made my BOB an E-BOB, the load possibilties are endless........
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Old 07-29-11, 03:22 AM
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A friend and I just completed part of the GAP and C&O. We started at Connellsville PA and ended at Harper's Ferry. Total trail ride about 210 miles. After multiple hours riding both the GAP and C&O we found them to be monotonous. Scenery remained much the same throughout; for our last day we traveled on roads and found the change of pace and scenery much better. You may find things differently, but I don't think I would want to ride those trails one direction and then immediately retrace that route. Getting in some road miles might make for a more interesting ride. If you go one direction I recommend Pitt to DC since it will be more mileage downhill.

Bryan

P.S. Don't forget to use the WMRT (Western Maryland Rail-Trail) -- that is 20 miles of paved relief from the non-paved C&O.

https://bikewashington.org/trails/wmrt/wmrt.htm
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Old 07-29-11, 04:15 AM
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Brad, I did the GAP and C&O as a newbie a month ago. I think the time depends on your cycling skills and endurance. My pal and I did it averaging 45-50 miles a day. Of course, we did it at a casual pace with a lot of sightseeing. I think both trails have challenges. The condition of the C&O slowed us at times. The GAP is in excellent shape. We started in Pittsburgh and had 100 uphill miles to contend with. As was said in another post, cycling with a loaded rig is a different experience than cycling without the gear. I will do this trip again in a few years. I don't think I will camp. I enjoyed my experiences in each of the small towns. -- Tom

Last edited by tombilcze; 07-29-11 at 04:36 AM.
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