Since 2008, I have been talking about riding the C&O/GAP bike tour. We came close a couple of times but the logistics scared us off. Last year, I did the GAP with the Rails to Trails group but did not get to see the C&O. This year, everything came together and seven years after I set my sights on doing this ride, it’s finally going to happen. Back in the early days of bicycle touring, the nerves would usually kick in a week before the ride began. All the “what ifs”. With a few tours experience, it’s become a summer routine. I still get excited, but instead of thinking about all the things that could go wrong, I installed new handlebar tape on my touring bike.
Most of the stuff is laid out on the bed aligned with the pannier it will occupy. It’s under guard so I’m not worried about anything going missing. ( I have a small dog that likes to take things to different parts of the house).
On tour, or reading about touring, there are always stories about people going out of their way to do something for the traveler. This tour however, things began before our first pedal stroke. A new friend from bikeforums.net got us a visitors resident parking pass in DC. When we get to Pittsburgh, we are staying at an airbnb host.
June 1st is our travel day and we begin the ride on June 2nd.
Sisyphus was a king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He was punished for chronic deceitfulness by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, repeating this action forever.
I laid out a lot of gear for our tour next week. The table was full with camping and cooking gear. While organizing how I’m going to carry this stuff it was only natural to be thinking about tours past. Two years ago, I cooked oatmeal one morning. After the second day of riding, I sent all that stuff home. I did cook pasta one night after riding till 10PM trying to find a place to camp on our 2008 tour. We ended up setting up our tents at the edge of a parking lot along the Erie Canal. In short, since 2007, I have cooked two breakfasts and a dinner. I may have made coffee three or four times. I rode the GAP last year with a large group and know there are plenty of places to stop and eat or purchase good food. There is really no need to carry any cooking gear.
I am not going to be Sysyphus again this year, carrying all that cooking gear and having is clanging, making me look and sound like a bearded, crazy haired prospector walking a jackass in a 1968 spaghetti western. Tomorrow morning, I’m putting all that cooking gear back into storage.
Camping is another story. The gear is a little bulky but it fits on my rear rack nicely. There are campgrounds within walking distance of town centers. When there are others camping, hanging out and talking to each other over a beer and some snacks is so much better than sitting in a motel room watching some stupid sitcom or nutty political discussion on the boob tube. A soft bed and hot shower is a major advantage, but it’s not always the best choice. But there are certainly nights when it is the best choice. We will be mixing it up on this tour.
I began following this blog in 2005 when he was keeping a journal of his cross country bike ride on a really good resource for bikers, crazyguyonabike. People from all over the world write about their bike adventures on the site, and it’s what got me into bike touring. Mike moved his journal to his own blog after having a fallout with the crazy guy host. Because it’s so easy to update, I continue to use crazyguyonabike for my bike tours.
In nine days, two of us will ride our bikes from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC. Accommodations will be a mix of camping, motels and B&B’s for our 8 day vacation on a bike. It’s all begins HERE
After tossing around all kinds of places and timelines for our annual bike tour, we finally settled on the C&O/GAP. On June 1st we are driving from Providence R.I. to Pittsburgh for an over night stay. From there we are taking a shuttle to Washington, D.C. to begin our 335 mile bike ride back to Pittsburgh.
After many long distance tours over the years, we have learned not to do much advanced planning. Winging it is the best way to go, eliminating the stress that can happen when we make reservations weeks in advance. Planning our mileages in the mornings during breakfasts gives us at least a basic idea of how much riding we will do that day. We may or may not stick to that plan but at least it gives us something to talk about over our tofu and rice cakes.
There will be lots of riding between now and then. Not for training or anything. Just because is nice to ride a bike every day.
***** Here we sit, six hours after I wrote the stuff up above and everything has changed. The shuttle from Pittsburgh to DC was $500. The bike rental was $200. We would have lost two days of our tour if we stuck to that plan. Now we finally have a final plan. For the third time.
We are going to begin in DC, taking a train with our bikes to Pittsburgh and spend the night. Now we can begin the ride back to DC early morning on June 2nd from Pittsburgh. The train is $65 with our bike and that’s a whole lot better than paying $500 for a shuttle. “More beer money” is our new mantra.
New England Randonneurs Brevet
Dighton Rock 200k, Sunday April 11 2015, details here
Below is a link to the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen’s ride schedule. All rides are open to everyone. The Sunday ride has options for different miles.
**(I’ll be riding Saturday mornings Cafe Tour on the East Bay Bike Path. It’s a great start to this seasons riding. 26 miles of easy pedaling, stopping for coffee and a snack at the halfway point in Bristol R.I.) Leaves Fort Hill at 10AM
The link offers tons of information about local club rides, charity rides, brevets, and other bike related events. There is also instructions on using their GPS files on your device.
Finally a list of events happening this year.
Everything you need to know about biking in New England is in one place ready for your perusing pleasure.
Cover Photo. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge connecting Brooklyn to Staten Island.
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As always, click and photo for big. Click again for bigger
There is still no place to ride a bike which put a severe crimp in training for biking in Panama next week. I have been putting on some time at the gym, but anyone who rides knows that a stationary bike is no substitute for the real thing. The only thing worse is riding on a trainer. I tried that one season and ended up selling the stupid thing.
Biker riders all over the northeast are pining to get back on the road and all we can do for now is dream (and write) about our upcoming trips. With that let the show begin with highlights of last years rides that we are doing again this year.
First up is the Midnight Marathon Bike ride that we do on the eve of the Boston Marathon in mid April. We load our bikes for transport to Hopkinton (some ride from Boston). We board the Amtrak to the start and the thousand or so riders bike the marathon route back to the city. No leaders, no rules, no helmet is required, no nothing. Everyone is on their own. It’s a hoot. Oh did I mention that the ride begins at midnight?
Two weeks later on the first Sunday of May, it’s the New York City Five Boroughs Ride. 30.000 riders have the roads of Manhattan, Queens, da Bronx, Brooklyn and the Verrazano Bridge to ourselves. This is a big MF bridge especially at the end of a forty mile bike ride. We also cross four other bridges to make this a five boroughs five bridges rides. Seeing all the boroughs of New York on a bicycle at 12 mph with no vehicles is the bee’s knees.
A month of training leads up to the years big tour. Riding the Great Allegheny Passage Pittsburgh, PA. to Cumberland, MD. Lat year I did it with the Rails to Trails dot org group and found it such a great ride that a couple of us are doing it again this year on our own. Or as we in the bike culture say, “self supported”.
There is also the GRAND TOUR from Florida to Austin, Texas. I have been wanting to do a cross country tour for years and time is running out for me to cross that off of my list. Twice I have been ready to go and had to cancel. I wanted to do this solo but I am not adverse to riding with company. The video is a young man who did this last summer and I am only linking his video so he can get lots of hits on his YouTube. CLICK HERE for Mr Smith’s (Barett), video. Leave him a note if you feel like it. He did a great job and deserves recognition.
This has the possibility of being a really good spring and summer.
As always, click any photo for big. Click again for bigger
The rule of thirds which is putting your subject off center can add a nice touch to a photo. Soon after entering the small town of St. Martin while bicycle touring in Austria I crossed paths with this wonderful friendly woman. By taking the photo with her off center makes her one part of the complete scene.
In contrast, putting my little dog Lucy in the center of the photo draws your attention to her and her image commands the photo.
Biking is out of the question for a while because of the heavy snowfalls we are experiencing. The winter months do offer a chance to improve this blog as well as some bike riding planning. I bought a used DSLR camera and am studying photography both online and book reading. Right now it’s Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. Along with the photography class, I’m learning use video and video editing to add some zip to the site. Even with all that there is still time to research the annual summer bicycle tour.
Brandon and have narrowed our tour to two routes. Buffalo to Albany New York on the Erie Canal, which we have done twice together. Our other option is to ride the C&O towpath from Washington to Cumberland, MD where we will join the Great Allegheny Passage trail to Pittsburgh. I did the GAP last year with a large tour group, but would love to ride the rail trail route again this summer with just the two of us. We will mix camping with Hostels and B&Bs.
In order to make sharing all the above more interesting I’m taking a blogging course. I did sign up for “blogging 101” but am also going to dive right in to blogging 201. I feel like I’m in between the two classes and can get some good experiences and training using both simultaneously. Today’s topic on “101” was to introduce yourself which can be a challenge and awkward. Introductions can lead to self depreciation, overdone self praise or just plain uninteresting rambling.