Tag: C&O canal bike trail

Martha’s Vineyard.

The Campgrounds at Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard
The Campgrounds at Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard

We drove back to New England but were certainly not ready to end our bike tour. We decided to drive out to Wood’s Hole and catch the ferry to “the Vineyard” to do a day of riding, eating, drinking beer and sightseeing. We got all that accomplished.

A bit of fun with the panorama function on my camera.
A bit of fun with the panorama function on my camera.

One of the things that struck me was how much better riding is when it’s done in civilization. The GAP for me is rated a little below OK. With the stories we heard of the C&O conditions, I really think it would have soured both Brandon and I on bike touring.  MORE

Bike Tour Day 1. Pittsburgh to Connellsville PAore

After staying in a wonderful airbnb, we took a Uber to the train station to unbox and assemble our bikes. Withing a few pedal strokes I knew I had severely over packed. I found a post office a mile away and shipped home all my cooking and some of the camping gear. Keeping only the tent and a pillow, just in case.

It was 1:30 by the time we got riding and we got in a slow 62 miles to the town of Connellsville, PA. We ran into a father and son from Alaska, Jeff and Finn who turned us on to a cheap motor lodge at the top of a pretty severe hill. Normally this would not be an issue, but after riding 60 miles on dirt, it was kind of tough.

Today we will continue into Myerdale, around 60 miles. More about today later today.  Pictures and all that stuff.

Bike Tour Travel Day

Red Roof Inn Baltimore Airport
I like Red Roof. It’s inexpensive. That’s the extent of the good things to say. You get the point.

I drove the the Red Rood Inn at Baltimore airport last night. Brandon is flying in from Austin this morning.  We will drive 30 miles to Union Station in DC, box our bikes and do the tourist thing while we wait to board the 4:30 Amtrak to Pittsburgh.

Tomorrow morning we begin our bike ride from Pittsburgh to DC on the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O canal towpath. We will be mixing camping with soft beds and hot showers.

It’s Touring Time

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The bike all packed up and ready to go.

Early Sunday morning I drive to Baltimore to pick up Brandon.  We begin our tour on Monday in Pittsburgh and should arrive back in DC on the following Sunday or Monday.  The weather looks dicey but we will make do.

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Brandon from Austin.
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amidnightrider from Cape Cod

 

The Whole Enchilada

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.

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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).

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The sentry. Midnight, the deaf cat.
The thief
The thief

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

SisyphusSisyphus 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 prospector and mulesound 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.

Crazy Guy On A Bike

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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

Bike Tour

Swains Lock on the C&O canal
Swains Lock on the C&O canal

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.