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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cover Photo. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge connecting Brooklyn to Staten Island.
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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.