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.