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  1. #1
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    C & O tow path questions

    After many years wanting to, this fall I'm finally doing it .

    So far I'm doing a cross bike with a bob trailer. Fenders, rear racks, panniers, many years bike commuting experience.

    Where do you camp there? I'm going from dc to Pittsburgh .

    Going to bring water filters.

    Any good or must have books for the trail? Or just wing it ?

    Bill

  2. #2
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    This is a ride I would like to try someday too.

    I have no first hand info.

    But would suggest you check out crazyguyonabike.com: Bicycle Touring: A place for bicycle tourists and their journals.

    Do a search for C & O and you will find many trip reports from others who have done this route. My interest comes from reading many of these reports.

    Good luck.

    R

  3. #3
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    I'm actually doing this ride in September with some buddies, but we're going from Pittsburgh to DC.

    There are actually two trail systems used, the Great Allegheny Passage: Great Allegheny Passage - www.gaptrail.org

    And the C&O Towpath: Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park - Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

    There are numerous camping and lodging sites along the paths. Just take a look at this section from DC to Cumberland (C&O Towpath):http://www.nps.gov/choh/upload/Recre...t-nov-2011.pdf

    The GAP link above also has links for Camping and Lodging. It seems like a well developed trail system so finding food and water also shouldn't be much of an issue.

  4. #4
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    C & O tow path questions

    Anybody have a suggestion for a shuttle service? I'd like to ride from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.


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  5. #5
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    Cumberland Trail Connection (Cumberland, MD)...they are a bike shop right at the trailhead of the C&O and GAP. They shuttle either direction.

    You might also look into Amtrak. They run from DC to Pitt. If the Pittsburgh terminal handles freight, you can load your bike in DC and get it in Pittsburgh. There's a terminal in Cumberland, MD but they don't handle freight so you can't unload your bike there.

  6. #6
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    What do you think your daily mileage will be? The trail is pretty much dead flat and if you can get 60 miles a day you will definitely pass through towns with services every day. No need for water filters unless you really want them, there are water pumps treated with iodine all along the C&O, and on the GAP there are plenty of shops for gatorade, ice cream, restaurants, etc... Cross bike is fine, BOB is overkill-- if it wont fit into a set of paneers with rear rack and a backpack then just dont bring it! You wont need much gear at all for the ride it's pretty casual. Definitely buy the trailbook from the ATAtrail website it has mile by mile info on whats along the trail. Theres a good iphone app for the GAP and one for the C&O as well that has all the services listed. Came in handy when I accidentally left my guidebook at a B+B!

    It's an awesome ride. I did it last summer with my girlfriend and we stayed at B+Bs every night. Im heading back to do it again this spring by myself as well. I'm from Pgh, and I got a one way car rental from PGH to DC then biked back. Wasn't too expensive at all especially split between 2 people.


    ENJOY the ride!

  7. #7
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    My wife, daughter (2YO) were thinking about doing this trip, but the shuttle part gets a little complicated with our Big Dummy. We are leaning more towards an Outer Banks loop instead.

    Amtrak is an option, but I have read that you will need to box your bike up for the trip.

    We have done about a 100 miles of the GAP trail, awesome area for sure! Your Cross bike will be perfect.

    Keep us posted with your plans.

  8. #8
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    From the Amtrak site:


    *Full-size bicycles may be carried on certain trains with designated walk-on bicycle service. Bicycles must be stowed in the designated space within the body of the car. Reservations may be made online or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL.

    *Passengers utilizing the walk-on bicycle service, where bikes are carried on select trains by the passenger and stored in designated areas, must be able to fully handle their bicycle, and be able to lift their bicycle to shoulder height. Passengers are responsible for stowage and security of bicycles.

    Seems to me that the Amtrak from DC to Cumberland/Pittsburgh has this option. I forget where I read or heard that. If not...it may be possible to buy a second ticket and bring the bike on as a "passenger". I don't know if they'd allow it...might be an idea though. Cheaper than using a shuttle service at least. I've wanted to do the C&O trip for awhile. Maybe this year. Heck, I only live 15 minutes from the trail...I've never really ridden it.

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    Nubster: good info! Utilizing the Amtrak option is the way to make this happan if you ask me.

    Checkout the below link discussing some of the difficulties potentially faced though.
    The C&O Canal Bicycling Guide - Transport and Shuttles

    Look forward to hearing some sucess stories on the train.

    Cheers

    Butch

  10. #10
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    C & O tow path questions

    Walk on would be ideal. Even boxing your bike would be ok if you're going from dc to Pittsburgh.


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  11. #11
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    Here is the page that details bicycle allowances.

    Amtrak - Plan - Policies - Baggage Policy & Service - Special Items

    There is walk-on bicycle service on certain routes, but not the one in question (Capital Limited). Bicycles can be boxed and put on the train as checked luggage, which can only be loaded and unloaded in DC and Pittsburgh. That works great if you are doing the GAP & C&O, not so great if you only want to ride one of them.

  12. #12
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    Here's a good rundown on the ride and train: Bicycle Times rides to Washington | Bicycle Times Magazine

    They have experimented with roll-on roll-off service for bikes on the Captiol Limited line, but nothing has been committed yet. My guess it will happen eventually though.

    Like the above poster said, you can NOT stop halfway. There is no baggage service in Cumberland.

  13. #13
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    I rode a recumbent trike from Florida to Pittsburg a few years ago and did the C&O and GAP trails into Pittsburg.
    There are some great campsites along the rivers on the C&O and many inexpensive hostel sort of lodging along the GAP. There are water pumps at most campsites on the C&O but the water always tasted of iron so bad it was only drinkable in a survival situation IMO.
    have a great trip!

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    I have done the C&O 5 times. Don't forget about amtrak if you are doing Pittsburgh to DC, you can check your bike. Otherwise, it is only a two hour drive from cumberland to DC, the Holiday Inn in cumberland will be happy to hold your bikes while you drive to DC and train back up...BTW, they serve Sam Adams on Amtrak.

    Any other questions, post here and I will do my best to answer. I know all the best places to eat, stay and grab a cold beer.

  15. #15
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    Rambo47

    First time DC to Pittsburgh rider and would welcome any advice. Looking for fav restaurants, interesting stops or side trips along the way. Leaving this Tuesday morn out of Pitts on Amtrak. Have made all B & B reservations and intend to take my time along the C & O for exploring (40 mile days 1- 3) then pickup the pace and miles from Hancock home. Schedule as follows:

    Day 1 - Spend first nite in DC, 4 hrs pedal among the monuments.
    Day 2 - DC to Leesburg, about 35 miles. Leesburg Colonial Inn
    Day 3 - to Shepherdstown, 40m. Thomas Shepherd Inn
    Day 4 - to Hancock, 50m. River Run B & B
    Day 5 - to Cumberland, 60m. Cumberland Inn & Spa
    Day 6 - to Confluence, 60m. Parkerhouse
    Day 7 - to the Point! about 90 miles.

    Thanks in advance for any input!

  16. #16
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    ^^ That sounds like a good plan/pace. The last 90 mile day to the point will be as easy as your 50 miles to Hancock-- it's all smooth and downhill!

    I'll maybe see you on the trail. I'm going Pgh to DC and leaving on Wednesday, biking through the night trying to do it all in one push.

  17. #17
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    Tsidey,

    Sounds like a cool trip. My expertise would be in the C&O section, so here it goes:

    -DC- be sure to have a bell for your bike, the traffic dies off once you get past Great Falls. I would make time to walk the trail out to the falls viewing area, it is not far and well worth the view and pics to show later.

    -Leesburg, unless you have shuttle taking you back to White's Ferry, be VERY careful of the traffic on rt 15, it is heavy and rush hour starts early

    -Shepardstown is a small college town so there are lots of cool places to eat and carb reload

    -Williamsport (mp100) is a funky small town, lots of places to grab lunch

    -the Western Maryland Rail Trail parallels the C&O for 25 miles, you pick it up just past Ft Frederick State park (MP 112) and it takes you right into Hancock and it is paved.

    -If you have time, check out Ft Frederick state park, the fort is pretty cool

    - in Hancock, there is a laundromat next to the Pizza Hut, Weaver's family restaurant is a great place to eat, wierd hours though. Place on the east side of town, Terrace Restaurant maybe, awesome big breakfast with easy access to the WMRT. There is also a Sheetz, should make you feel at home.

    -If you take the WMRT out of Hancock it will dump you back onto the canal 15 miles up

    - little Orleans, there is a bar/greasy spoon if you go through the via duct when the trail zig zags to the other side of the canal (NHP campsite there as landmark)

    -Paw Paw - you will need a light for that tunnel, Pawpaw, WV is a bit off the canal but there is a convince store there if you need some supplies.

    -Old Town - there is an old elementary school there where someone has converted the cafeteria to a greasy spoon. When you hit the Old Town lock house, cross the canal, turn right at the stop sign and the school is on the right.

    -Cumberland- there is a downtown pedestrian mall, not a lot going on there but there is a bar with good food and cold beer.

    Have not done the GAP trail yet, work got in the way of doing the Pitt to DC trip this summer.

    Have a great trip, let me know how it goes.

  18. #18
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    C & O tow path questions

    Does anyone have a GPS track (.gpx) of the GAP?

    Edit: nevermind found it
    Last edited by Couloirman; 10-12-2014 at 07:00 AM.

  19. #19
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    i have done this 3x, just got back again. if anyone has any specific questions, just pm me

  20. #20
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    We did the GAP/C&O Canal Towpath in early June, from Pittsburgh to DC.
    The GAP is converted rail trail and very consistent in that it was in good shape and smooth, as well as being totally ride-able in the rain. The Towpath surface was very inconsistent -- some parts were smoother than others, lots and lots of small potholes on some areas and large holes in other areas and it changed constantly.

    We had one very rainy day on the Towpath and fenders are absolutely required, unless you want to wear the trail on rainy days. We were riding with rear panniers and I knew that if I could find a corplast sign, I could create a "fender" that would attach to the underneath part of the pannier frame and extend out enough to keep mud spatter off the back of my rain jacket. I found an old political sign and that made enough for "fenders" for my husband and myself. We used zip ties to attach.

    Another thing (just do it) is get a stable kick stand. Like I said, just do it.

    Ohiopyle was my favorite town on the entire trip.

    Also, it may be late enough in the year to not be a problem, but one of our group contracted Lyme Disease and we were not even camping. DEET is not effective as a tick repellent. Use a promethrin. Most of the campgrounds that we passed on the C&O were not mowed; the grass was fairly high.

    You will be riding many hours every day with no change in your position on the bike. Make sure whatever saddle you are using will be comfortable for 6 or 7 hours of saddle time.

    Personally, two 90 mile days back to back sounds totally nuts. Load up your bike at home with all the things you'll be taking and do at least one 90 mile day with that load on natural surface roads. If you wake up the next day ready to do another 90 miles, great. If not.........

    I fell in love with the paved trails along the rivers in Pittsburgh, so spend a little time there. The people were also really nice.

    Edited to note that the person on our trip who later became ill was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, NOT spotted tick fever. He is well almost a year later, but struggled with it for about 3 months.
    Last edited by June Bug; 05-07-2015 at 11:30 AM.

  21. #21
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    How good, or bad, would this trip be the end of July with two kids (10, 12) who are used to long rides, but don't always hold up the best in extreme heat?

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    The good news is that most of the trail is in the shade, next to the Potomac River so it is cooler than one would expect. For a little break, there is a paved trail that parallels the C&O for 25 miles, the Western Maryland Rail Trail, you pick it up a few miles past Little Orleans takes you into Hancock if you plan to stay there then drops you off before Big Pool.

    When I have done it with the kids, the B&B's were not keen on kids so I was stuck with Super 8 in Hancock, Red Roof in Williamsport and Cliffside in Harpers Ferry. Those hotels makes it a 4 day trip 60-30-30-60, if you choose the Cliffside in Harpers Ferry, be sure to take the park service road to the shuttle lot, then walk your bike along Rt340 a few hundred yards to the hotel ( they have a great in house restaurant and a bar...did I mention they had a bar?)

    Good luck. I am planning to camp the canal with our Boy Scout troop this July. If you see a guy on a tandem with a kid with glasses on back, that is me. My one son is legally blind but with the tandem we can still enjoy the canal as a family.

  23. #23
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  24. #24
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    The current day-use fee is $3 and is good for three days. Camping is $10/night. Even if they DOUBLE the fee it should hardly make a difference in your trip planning.

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    They only charge day use fees if you enter at Great Falls. Everywhere else is free. Camping at the hiker/biker sites is free. They only charge at the drive in sites.

    Camping - Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)

    NPS has chosen NOT to proceed with increasing the rates. Yay them!

  26. #26
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    The shuttle presented the biggest logistical headache of the trip. One couple went to Pittsburgh, left their bikes and all gear, drove back to DC and left the car in long-term parking at the airport and took the train back to Pittsburgh. The train gets into Pittsburgh around 11pm. Fortunately, their Air BnB place was only about two blocks from the train station.

    We went to Pittsburgh, checked into our motel right by the trail, DH drove the van back to DC, left it at long term parking at the airport and met up with the rest of our group and they rode back together to Pittsburgh in a shuttle van -- NOT CHEAP!

    At the end of the trip, it was very easy to ride bikes on the paved trails to the DC airport, pick up our van and head back to Texas. In retrospect, it would have been easier, cheaper overall and certainly faster to fly with our bikes from Texas to Pittsburgh and, at the end of the trip, fly from DC to Texas.

    One other note: it is not easy to find Post 0 on the C&O in DC. You have to go through a paved area for a boat house and there it is -- not obvious at all.

    One other note. Our group numbered 8 -- 4 couples. In the early planning stages, one person set up the itinerary -- miles per day and the town we'd be staying in each night. Each couple was responsible for making their own reservations for a B&B or motel in each town. Many times we were all riding together, sometimes we weren't. Many nights we all had dinner together; some nights we didn't.
    We were an older group -- the youngest person was early 50s and the oldest 74. Not trying to be joined at the hip for 10 days worked out extremely well for us as a group.
    The best defense against bullsh*t is vigilance. If you smell something, say something.
    Jon Stewart

  27. #27
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    One other odd little thing I just remembered: When we were on the GAP/C&O, several of us would abruptly get this tickly itchy throat sensation which immediately led to an incredibly intense hacking cough. I inadvertently discovered that the ONLY way I could make it stop was to chew a Clif Block. Drinking water had absolutely no effect. Likely the sweetener in the Clif Block soothed the tickle. I'm sure this was a pollen issue. If you have allergies, just have some Clif Blocks on hand or else some cough drops as part of your kit, especially if you go during prime pollinating time -- for us this was early - mid June.
    The best defense against bullsh*t is vigilance. If you smell something, say something.
    Jon Stewart

  28. #28
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    I am heading out for my annual GAP/C&O ride in a couple weeks-- hooray! I have never used Amtrak to get back though. I will be going Pgh to DC and was debating trying to see how easy it will be to take the train, since I am riding the whole thing in one push without sleep and don't wanna fall asleep at the wheel.

    Where is the closest place to the Amtrak station I can get a bike box? Do they have bike boxes at the Amtrak station in DC? That's still the only way to get on the train right-- bike sealed in a box? Hoping for roll on service in the near future!!!!


    EDIT: apparently they sell bike boxes at the amtrak station for $15.
    Last edited by Couloirman; 05-04-2015 at 01:04 PM.

  29. #29
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    Will you be going from DC to Pittsburgh on Amtrak? If so, the Capital Corridor has roll on bike service but NOT checked bagged service. Check the Amtrak website to be sure.

  30. #30
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    Im going Pittsburgh to DC and need to come back to pittsburgh afterwards. I thought roll on service was temporary and no longer offered?

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    I've been trying to figure out if the roll-on service is still around too.
    Anybody know? Amtrak's website is not very helpful.


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  32. #32
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    Necrobumping this thread so I can share some of my thoughts- I did the combined GAP/C&O in mid-October 2015.

    1. Amtrak has now instituted the roll-on/roll-off service as of late September. My crew didn't do that because the afternoon train from DC would have gotten us there very late; instead, we rented a pick-up truck in DC, loaded up our bikes DH-shuttle run style in the bed, and drove out there. One of us took the truck back to the rental car return, which for us was by the airport, and then took a cab back to our hotel.

    2. I did my tour on a Surly Cross Check with 700x41 Surly Knards as my tire. The set-up was fantastic- rolling resistance felt negligible and I was thankful to have something a little bit more beefy during the initial parts of the C&O. We also had one guy do the thing on a Surly Pugsley with at least 3" wide tires- he kept up for the most part and never complained, but then again, this guy's disposition is perpetually cheery.

    3. Trail quality is fantastic on the GAP and varies dramatically on the C&O. It was my experience that the C&O near its start in Cumberland is more rough-hewn than other places, with roots being somewhat jarring at times. Also, recognize that when you're on the C&O you may be further away from civilization than you were on the GAP.

    4. The earlier you can lay claim to a campsite on the C&O, the better. We only camped one night on the C&O, but on that day, with daylight and glycogen stores rapidly depleting, we passed at least three sites that were occupied before we finally decided that the people at the next site were going to share their site with us, no matter what. As it turns out, the guys we split the site with were super cool and were great to talk with, but they definitely had their pick of the best places to pitch their tents.

    5. Ohiopyle is a cool town and one that you should definitely carve out a few hours to see and eat your way through. The high bridge is very scenic and a great photo spot. Meyersdale is also great- consider staying at the Morguen Toole Company, which is a very cool, historic and quirky hotel/hostel. Great, entertaining and lively people work there, too.

    6. You're going to be fairly close to civilization for your first few days along the GAP, so you don't have to fret too hard about over/underpacking. There's an REI on the south side of Pittsburgh that you can hit along the way out if you need some last minute camping/snivel gear, and otherwise, you can easily pick up any food at the various markets in trail towns along the way. Last major spot to stock up on food and bike stuff is in Cumberland right before the GAP becomes the C&O; there are other towns that you'll encounter on the C&O but Cumberland is by far the largest and best-equipped. There are towns along the C&O that you can also hit up, but if you're looking to maximize your camping time along the C&O, it's my suggestion that you load up in Cumberland as so to avoid detours and whatnot.

    7. If you're not experienced with Mid-Atlantic weather conditions, familiarize yourself with the season you plan on going and pack accordingly. Be prepared for diverse weather conditions- when we went in mid-October, we rode in 70 degree bluebird conditions to freezing rain and below freezing temperatures while both camping and riding.

    I know that was a lot, but I'm happy to answer more questions if anyone wants. It really is a fantastic trip, and if you read the reports on crazyguyonabike.com, it's also pretty scalable to your level of fitness or desired intensity. Want to take eight days meandering through it all? Go for it. Down for a 3 day sufferfest sprint? You can pull that off as well. It's very fun, and I'd like to do it again sometime.

  33. #33
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    Thanks, PantslessWithWolves. I've been wanting to ride this stretch for a while, now. Last summer I thought about taking my Long Haul Trucker, but I was already in the planning stages to get my Troll. I decided the Troll would be the better bike for that trip, so I'm hoping I can make it happen this summer. I'll be in Ohio in June, I hope. If the roll-on bike service is still in effect, it should be an easy, overnight train ride from Cleveland to Pittsburgh. Going west to east means the train stops at Pitt around 5am, so an earlier start than I'd usually get. And even without roll-on service, the boxing/unboxing is not too onerous. Ride to DC, and roll my bike on to an Amtrack back to Raleigh. I hope I can make it work.

    Thanks for the camping tip especially. I was planning my route in terms of a reasonable mileage, and wasn't considering that if I made my days too long, the campsites might fill up. I may have to plan to stop earlier in the day than normal if I'm planning on staying at a free, non-reservable site.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by PantslessWithWolves View Post
    I know that was a lot, but I'm happy to answer more questions if anyone wants. It really is a fantastic trip, and if you read the reports on crazyguyonabike.com, it's also pretty scalable to your level of fitness or desired intensity. Want to take eight days meandering through it all? Go for it. Down for a 3 day sufferfest sprint? You can pull that off as well. It's very fun, and I'd like to do it again sometime.
    What was your daily mileage like? How many days for your crew?

    I've planned mine around my expected allowance of vacation days, figuring on five days from Pittsburgh to Swain's Lock (Mile Marker 16 on the C&O). The 6th day would be riding into DC and catching the train home. Longest day planned is 75 miles. Shortest is 60. It seems reasonable for a road tour, and reasonable for most rail-trails I've been on, but if the C&O is a rougher ride, and I'm a lazy, fat rider (which I am), I wonder if I should plan shorter days. However if it's comparable to road riding, then my planned mileage seems very reasonable to me.

  35. #35
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    I did this trip with some friends and we spaced our stops so that we could do it in four days. The 1st two days were over 100 miles, which was OK since the GAP is smooth. The C&O was rougher and slower. We stopped in Rockport, Hancock, Harpers Ferry and finished in Georgetown before riding to Falls Church where we had left some cars. If I did it again I would take longer. It's worth slowing down and taking it in.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
    What was your daily mileage like? How many days for your crew?

    I've planned mine around my expected allowance of vacation days, figuring on five days from Pittsburgh to Swain's Lock (Mile Marker 16 on the C&O). The 6th day would be riding into DC and catching the train home. Longest day planned is 75 miles. Shortest is 60. It seems reasonable for a road tour, and reasonable for most rail-trails I've been on, but if the C&O is a rougher ride, and I'm a lazy, fat rider (which I am), I wonder if I should plan shorter days. However if it's comparable to road riding, then my planned mileage seems very reasonable to me.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
    What was your daily mileage like? How many days for your crew?

    I've planned mine around my expected allowance of vacation days, figuring on five days from Pittsburgh to Swain's Lock (Mile Marker 16 on the C&O). The 6th day would be riding into DC and catching the train home. Longest day planned is 75 miles. Shortest is 60. It seems reasonable for a road tour, and reasonable for most rail-trails I've been on, but if the C&O is a rougher ride, and I'm a lazy, fat rider (which I am), I wonder if I should plan shorter days. However if it's comparable to road riding, then my planned mileage seems very reasonable to me.
    We did it in five days of riding. Our shortest day was like 54 miles, our longest was probably the last day at around 72 miles. I think that six days to do it would be perfect if you're looking to take a more leisurely pace- I did it with a bunch of riders who are in pretty good shape, and while I wouldn't say we were truly mashing it, we certainly felt the miles at the end of the day.

    I highly recommend getting the guidebook and doing a little recon/intel gathering via that and Google Earth to get a general idea of what will be around you give or take 10 miles of your prospective mileage targets. It's not a bad idea to figure out where you could spend the night if a mechanical waylaid you for longer than you would have liked, or where you can get a Snickers bar if you feel a bonk coming on during your last 10 miles.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by PantslessWithWolves View Post
    I highly recommend getting the guidebook and doing a little recon/intel gathering via that and Google Earth to get a general idea of what will be around you give or take 10 miles of your prospective mileage targets. It's not a bad idea to figure out where you could spend the night if a mechanical waylaid you for longer than you would have liked, or where you can get a Snickers bar if you feel a bonk coming on during your last 10 miles.
    Yeah, I usually do have an early, bail-out option in mind in case the ride doesn't go as planned. Unfortunately I'm operating with a limited amount of time off, so a delay on one day would have to be made up the following day. But I might squeeze one more day into the schedule for sight-seeing in DC. If I do that, I can have a little wiggle room if I get off schedule.

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    Thanks for all of the good info. I'm planning on doing just the C and O in early summer and you definitely brought up some things I had not considered. What other lodging choices are there on the C and O, if not the free campsites?

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    There's the "Chicken Coop" in Hancock as well as some chain motels. Sheperdstown is right across the river and has lodging. Harpers Ferry has some places to stay.

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    Anyone ever do Pittsburgh -> DC and back? I have a small dog that rides with me so s train ride or shuttle is out of question. Im on a budget so I'd drive from Massachusetts, park, ride to dc and back to Pittsburgh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by riverat View Post
    Anyone ever do Pittsburgh -> DC and back? I have a small dog that rides with me so s train ride or shuttle is out of question. Im on a budget so I'd drive from Massachusetts, park, ride to dc and back to Pittsburgh.
    After my (one way) c&o/gap trips, I have been toying with doing that - but I'm from Virginia so it would be the opposite for me. It would be cool to play with trip planning, as far as daily distances covered, the need to be in a certain town or place by a certain day/time, be able to scoot along boring sections and take time/cruise around other sections, etc.

    When are you doing your trip? The second/third week of May is best for spring trips...it's beautiful with all the new foliage, wildflowers, and such...although this timing depends on what kind of winter this end up being. For fall trips, the last two weeks in September are prime. I did the last week in September last year and I don't think it could've been any better of a trip.

    A few suggestions:

    I've never been a fan of the trail, campsites, or food stop locations in the area between DC and Montgomery County, MD (Poolesville, I guess), so I have been taking White's Ferry down to Leesburg and riding the w&od back to DC. Yeah it's paved, but it's a change of scenery and there's absolutely no comparison of food choices - w&od kills that section of the c&o. Also you end up at the same place, and can then ride the Mt. Vernon trail and check out places in DC. The ferry charges like $3 for bikes.

    Anyone doing the c&o this year should consider planning their trip to hit Shepherdstown, WV after 1100 to eat at Maria's Taqueria. This is probably some of the best food on the trail - cheap, fast, spicy, and delicious. Good beer, too.

    Buddylou's in Hancock was surprisingly good food as well. Their deck area is really relaxing in the afternoon.

    If you can avoid it, do not camp anywhere within ~15 miles east of Cumberland...the train yard is still there...the sewage treatment plant smell is still there...the trail & those campsites continue to hold lots of water after rains.

    That section of the trail is getting in pretty rough condition with holes & such. I spoke with a ranger a bit down the trail about it, they said the funding isn't there for trail repairs. Damn shame I don't live closer, because I'd be out there with a truck, crush & run, and a shovel. I donated money to the park system instead.

    My last two trips have been without any water filter or treatment, and I've stopped bringing a stove & such. There are enough places along the trail that it's totally doable.


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